Illegal Immigrants Amnestied By Obama Eligible For Up To $9,182 In Cash Benefits Every Year

Illegal immigrants who are given work permits and Social Security Numbers through President Obama's amnesty programs could get up to $9,182 in cash benefits from the federal government every year, according to a new later from the Congressional Research Service.

Requested by an unnamed Senator, the CRS letter details the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit and and Child Tax Credit payments a family could receive from the Internal Revenue Service without paying any income taxes to the federal government.

Families with four children who earned $23,260 would owe zero income taxes in 2014 and would be eligible for a $9,182 check from the government since both the EITC and CTC are refundable benefit programs which pay recipients benefits above and beyond any tax liability they night have.

Families with incomes above $23,260 would still receive EITC and CTC payments from the federal government, but those payments would decrease as the families income rose.

Illegal immigrants who filed tax returns using Taxpayer Identification Numbers from the IRS have been receiving billions in CTC payments from the federal government for years. Obama's Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program would make it easier for millions more illegal immigrants to receive tax benefits by giving the SSNs.

With a SSN, illegal immigrants become eligible for both CTC and EITC payments. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that if Obama's executive amnesties are kept for the next ten years, illegal immigrants will receive more than $20 billion in EITC patients over that time.

According to the CBO, under Obama's amnesty programs, illegal immigrants would also get $3 billion in health care benefits, $2 billion in Supplemental Security Income, and $1.6 billion in food stamps.

When Obama first introduced his DAPA program to the American people, he claimed it would not "offer the same benefits that citizens receive."

These official CRS and CBO letters directly contradict that statement.

Rep. Mia Love: Government Has Made it Impossible for Legal Immigrants to Start Their Own Lives

Rep. Mia Love's (R-Utah) parents came to America from Haiti with $10 in their pocket in the 1970s. After holding down several jobs, they eventually earned their own way to success. Their daughter, however, said that could probably not happen today, thanks to an overbearing federal government. Love shared her personal story with attendees today at the Conservative Political Action Conference to demonstrate how important it is to take advantage of opportunities just like her parents did and work to achieve the American Dream on their own individual efforts, before it's threatened by Washington.

Love has an impressive resume. She is the first black female Republican elected to Congress, as well as the first black Republican ever elected from Utah. More impressively, she did it without relying on the nanny state. Her own personal story is why she rejects the notion that government should run our lives.

"Too many in Washington don't trust the American people. They don't want us to have opportunities to rise to the occasion."

Love has a better vision for America.

"I think it's time we need to look within. I think it's time for Washington to trust the American people."

The Utah representative can now say that the same principles that propelled her parents' success have also offered her a way forward.

"Conservative policies work. I've seen them work as a mother, as a mayor, and I use them now as a member of Congress...The American people deserve the opportunity to rise to the occasion."

Speaking of rising, Rep. Love shared a poignant and relevant story about a hot air balloon ride she took last year. As she was getting ready to board the balloon, she asked her son to join. He declined, so her daughter jumped in instead. High in the air, they enjoyed the beauty of Utah's landscape. Then, the weather changed, and the wind took them into the backyard of a neighbor. After witnessing the exciting spectacle, Love's son felt a hint of jealousy.

"Peyton watched the excitement from the ground. He runs over and says, 'I'm ready, it's my turn! But, the opportunity for him to soar and rise to the sky had come and gone. I said, 'remember this experience, remember today...If you do not take opportunities that come today, you'll never know if they'll come back." 

This is especially true, she said, thanks to a ballooning federal government."

"The federal government has made it impossible for people to save. It's difficult for someone to start their own lives - we've got to change that."

Even just 52 days in Congress, Love recognizes how harmful the government's nanny programs can be.

"I see all these programs that are meant to help the poor, hurt those they vow to protect."

Love said that government has its own interests in mind, not those of the American people. Her solutions? We have to trust ourselves and hit government agencies where they hurt.

"Independent people are the ones that give back. Washington can't do that. Washington needs to get smaller so people are bigger...Their job is to keep their job. We have to cut the bloodline to these bureaucracies, which is the funding."

It is this positive belief in America that encouraged Love's consituents to give her a seat in Washinton to try and change the selfish status quo.

"I was elected because of the policies and the principles that belive in American exceptionalism. I believe in this country."

Preserve your right to make your own decisions, she added. 

"Unlike Washington, I believe you're capable of doing that."

I had the opportunity to interview Rep. Love Thursday morning. She expanded on how Big Government has made it extremely difficult for immigrants to legally enter and succeed in America. Below is our full conversation:

Phyllis Schlafly Honored at Annual Weyrich Awards

Marking the 50th Anniversary of her book, A Choice, Not an Echo, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum received the Paul Weyrich Award for her life of service to the conservative movement on Wednesday evening at the Annual Weyrich Awards Dinner.

“Paul Weyrich was a tremendous figure in the early conservative movement, and I am proud to have called him my friend,” Schlafly said in a statement. “It is truly an honor to receive an award that bears his name and I am thrilled that the dinner has chosen to highlight my updated A Choice, Not An Echo for a new generation of conservatives to see. We are facing the very same battles today that Paul and I faced in the last 50 years.”

Numerous members of Congress and conservative VIPs attended the dinner, including Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and former Hewlett-Packard CEO and potential 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

During dinner, guests viewed videos featuring tribute to Schlafly by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint and Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, among others.

Schlafly first self-published A Choice, Not An Echo in 1964. The book exposes Republican “kingmakers” – who picked Republican candidates and drove them to victory by funding media and staff support, feining public acclaim. More than 3.5 million copies of the book have been sold.

“She fought battles most lacked the courage to fight, and time and again she won," Dr. Ben Carson wrote in a Washington Times tribute published Wednesday.

Others awarded for their contributions to the conservative movement included FOX News host Megyn Kelly, author and former CBS investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, and Live Action President Lila Rose.

Joni Ernst Honors Military Veterans at CPAC

The lights rose in the dimly lit auditorium at CPAC on Thursday afternoon, and the camera shot turned from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to the audience.

“At this time, if you are able, I would like to ask all of our military men and women to please rise and allow us to show our deep gratitude and appreciation,” Ernst had just said.

Across the room some three dozen veterans rose, and applause broke out.

“As we gather together for the next few days to celebrate our values, our beliefs, and our great freedom, I encourage all of you to take a moment and reach out, and thank a veteran and their family,” Ernst said, “because they help to protect those rights.”

Ernst commended America’s military for defending the “ideals, values, and freedoms that make this the greatest nation in the history of mankind.”

The newly elected senator has served in the military and is married to a retired command sergeant major.

“For more than 20 years, I had the great privilege of serving my state and my country while working alongside some of our finest soldiers,” Ernst explained. “Today I serve as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, and I’ve been privileged to have commanded many levels from company to battalion.”

Ernst served as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her unit was tasked with running convoys throughout Kuwait and Southern Iraq. 

“Because of the fearless men and women like these...I will always remain optimistic about the bright future of America.”

These experiences have made Ernst a fitting addition to the Senate Armed Services Committee, where she now sits.

“We are already working on a wide range of issues, including threats from ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and others who are being radicalized by them. Congress must hold President Obama accountable to ensure that he and his administration finally develop a cohesive and strong strategy to confront these and the many other threats that we face.”

The nation must do everything possible to give veterans the quality care they were promised and deserve, Ernst stated.

FCC Approves 'Net Neutrality' Regulations

If you like what Obamacare has done to health care, you are going to love what the Federal Communications Commission is about to do to the internet.

The FCC voted by a slim 3-2 margin Thursday to pass new "net neutrality" regulations that give the federal government unprecedented control over how the internet is managed.

Just as Obamacare was supposed to make health care cheaper for all Americans, net neutrality is supposed to guarantee "free and open access to the internet," according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Wheeler's new regulations essentially turn internet service providers into public utilities the same way Obamacare turned health insurance companies into heavily regulated wards of the state. And just as Obamacare has expanded paper health coverage to millions of Americans, while making it much harder for most people to actually see a doctor, net neutrality will also bring uncertainty and stagnation to the internet in the name of providing equal access to all. 

Technology entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently explained his opposition to net neutrality regulations to The Washington Post:

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. ...  Things have worked well. There is no better platform in the world to start a new business than the Internet in the United States. ... I want there to be fast lanes because there will be applications that need fast lanes. We are just now entering a period where we are seeing new ways to create and use high bitrate applications.

People like to use movies and TV shows as a reference to issues that could occur on the Internet. [But] the real issue is that there will be many applications that we can't foresee today. [And] we need those applications to not just have priority, but guaranteed quality of service.

I want certain medical apps that need the Internet to be able to get the bandwidth they need. There will be apps that doctors will carry on 5G networks that allow them to get live video from accident scenes and provide guidance. There will be machine vision apps that usage huge amounts of bandwidth. I want them to have fast lanes.

You can read the Mercatus Centers' 5 Myths About Net Neutrality here and The Heritage Foundation's 8 Myths About Net Neutrality here.

Also like Obamacare, the FCC is expected to be sued almost immediately, causing uncertainty in the industry for years. Already in 2014, a federal court struck down a 2010 FCC regulation on this same issue.

CPAC 2015: Cruz Builds Case for 2016 Run

On Thursday at CPAC, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke privately to a room full of reporters on a range of issues, most crucially about how grassroots conservatives should choose the next Republican presidential nominee. He suggested that every rumored presidential candidate at CPAC will attempt to assure the base "they're the most conservative person who ever lived." For this reason, he said, grassroots conservatives should be very wary of candidates who are well spoken and inspiring, but aren't necessarily conservatives at heart.

“We’ve been burned before,” he said. “We’ve supported candidates who sound great, got into office, and didn’t stand for principles. What I would suggest to every Republican primary voter – what I’m going to suggest at CPAC this afternoon – is we say to every candidate ‘don’t tell me, show me.’” 

“So if a candidate says they oppose Obamacare, great,” he continued. “Show me where you’ve stood up and fought to stop it. If a candidate says they oppose President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty, wonderful, show me where you’ve stood up and fought to stop it.”

And so on and so forth. He argued that candidates should not just be fluent spokesmen and women for conservative principles, but have a real and genuine record to run on. In other words, someone like him.

“If we nominate another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole or a John McCain or a Mitt Romney—and let me be clear, those are good and honorable men [who] love their country—[we won't win because] what they did didn’t work. It’s a losing strategy and if we nominate another candidate in that mold, the same voters who stayed home in ’08 and ’12 will stay home in ’16. And Hillary Clinton will be the next president.”

“So how do we win?” he asked. “We need to look for a candidate who can energize and mobilize those millions of conservatives and bring them back."

Cruz never said explicitly that he was running for president. But he implied as much. Speaking without notes for roughly 36 minutes, he built the case for why a candidate like him—who challenges the establishment, appeals to the base, and is a proven conservative—is best qualified to carry the Republican banner in 2016. We'll see.

BREAKING: Senate Committee Approves AG Nominee Loretta Lynch

The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to approve Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch. Her full confirmation vote is now headed to the full Senate. During her confirmation hearing earlier this month, Lynch expressed support for President Obama's executive amnesty. She also said she believes illegal immigrants have a right to work in the United States. 

"Senator, I think the right and obligation to work is one that is shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here and certainly if someone is here, regardless of status, I would prefer that they be participating in the work place than not be participating," Lynch said during her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill.

Earlier this week, more than 50 House Republicans sent a letter to the Committee urging a vote to block her confirmation.

Chairman Chuck Grassley voted against Lynch's nomination. 

“As I’ve said many times throughout the nomination process, what we need from our next Attorney General – more than anything else – is independence. The current Attorney General has permitted politics to drive decision making far too often. For that reason, the question for me has been whether Ms. Lynch will make a clean break and take the Department of Justice in a new direction. After thoroughly reviewing Ms. Lynch’s testimony, both before the committee and in written follow-up questions, I remain unconvinced she will lead the department in a different direction," Grassley said in a statement after the vote. “I sincerely hope Ms. Lynch proves me wrong and is willing to stand up to the President and say ‘No’ when the duty of the office demands it. But based on my review of the record, I cannot support the nomination.”

This post has been updated with additional information.

Stacey Dash Signs Book Deal With Regnery Publishing: "There Goes My Social Life" Out This Summer

Hollywood conservative Stacey Dash has signed a deal with Regnery Publishing to release her memoir titled There Goes My Social Life, Regnery announced today.

Best known for her role as Dionne in the 90s teen classic Clueless, Dash “came out” as a conservative when she tweeted in support of then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.

“It made me furious that [Obama] was the first black president,” Dash said in a 2013 interview with Sean Hannity. “That should be a wonderful thing, right? He had an opportunity to unite us in such a profound way. And he did the exact opposite. … He took advantage of the disenfranchised, the uninformed. He knew that they would vote for him because of the color of his skin. And he used that. He used that. That to me is immoral. It’s wrong.”

Her tweet in 2012 made waves in Hollywood, and made her the target of extensive criticism both from colleagues in her field and from the left. The memoir will describe Dash’s conversion to conservatism, telling the story of her childhood in the South Bronx through her acting career.

A rare example of a successful conservative celebrity, Dash joined Fox and Friends last year. She regularly speaks on such topics from modern day feminism to second amendment issues, and earlier this week criticized Patricia Arquette’s “equality for women” Oscars speech.

“We need to become more on the offense,” Dash said. “We need to get out there, like the Democrats do. We need to get more celebrities to talk.”

Dash’s memoir will be released in the summer 2015 season.

NSA Chief Contradicts Obama: Terror Threat is Expanding, 2014 Deadliest Year on Record

National Security Agency Chief James Clapper said in front of a Senate Armed Services Committee today that the terror threat against the United States is expanding and revealed 2014 as the deadliest year on record for attacks around the world. 

"When the final accounting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled," Clapper said, detailing thousands of attacks throughout the year. 

Just yesterday Secretary of State John Kerry said in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the world is safer than ever from terror. 

"We are actually living in a period of less daily threat to Americans and to people in the world than normally; less deaths, less violent deaths today, than through the last century," Kerry said. 

Last summer, President Obama echoed that by saying the world is "less violent" than ever.

"[T]he truth of the matter is that for all the challenges we face, all the problems that we have, if you had to be — if you had to choose any moment to be born in human history, not knowing what your position was going to be, who you were going to be, you’d choose this time," Obama said. "The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed then it’s ever been. It is more educated than it’s ever been."

According to an NBC/WSJ survey released in September 2014, 47 percent of Americans now feel less safe than they did before 9/11.

Martin O'Malley Comes In At Zero Percent In Iowa

On the Democratic side, the road to 2016 is quite vanilla. Hillary Clinton is just dominating the field, but it hasn’t dissuaded former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is “very seriously” considering mounting a presidential run of his own. Yet, a new Quinnipiac poll of 619 likely Iowa Caucus goers aren’t showing him any love, according to Politico. He registered a whopping zero percent in the poll. Only three percent of caucus goers said he was their second choice. On the other hand, if Hillary decides not to run in 2016, Vice President Joe Biden’s support jumps to 30 percent:

Among 619 likely caucus-goers surveyed by Quinnipiac University, zero percent responded that they would support the former governor of Maryland in 2016. And only 3 percent say he would be their second choice.

O’Malley drew low numbers from Quinnipiac surveys in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida earlier this month, garnering just 2 percent in the Keystone State and only 1 percent in the other two swing states.

Hillary Clinton leads all other potential opponents by a wide margin, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren coming in second at 19 percent, followed by Vice President Joe Biden at 7 percent, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 5 percent and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb at 2 percent.

If Clinton does not run, 30 percent of caucus-goers responded that they would back Biden.

Still, zero percent; that hurts.

No, Obamacare Isn't Proving Its Critics Wrong


It would be a genuine challenge to identify more obsequious water-carriers for the Obama agenda than the (hilariously inept) propaganda "explanatory journalism" team at Vox. One of their ongoing projects is "Voxplaining" to Americans how Obamacare is, in fact, working quite well -- regardless of what the vulgar right-wing liars might say. Though I spent a great deal of time refuting one such effort last fall, I again feel compelled to rise on behalf of Obamacare opponents to puncture Vox's latest pseudo-factual exercise in ideological self-congratulation.  Last week, blogger Sarah Kliff, who has done some good work as a journalist on the healthcare beat, published a piece crowing that the so-called "Affordable" Care Act has been vindicated by outcomes, effectively exposing its critics as ignorant hacks.  Setting aside problems with her approach -- selecting uniquely hyperbolic predictions to "rebut," and treating shorthand critiques as granular objections, for instance -- let's examine the eight "myths" she purports to refute:

(1) Nobody wants to buy Obamacare:  Of course it's true that many people wanted to, and did, obtain coverage through Obamacare -- both on the exchanges, and through the law's Medicaid expansion.  Millions of those who enrolled through the exchanges, however, had little choice in the matter.  They have been stripped of their existing, preferred coverage, and forced to purchase new, compliant plans.  This represents an enormous violation of one of the law's central pledges.  The fact that these people were legally required to buy Obamacare is not evidence that they wanted to do so.  Kliff also asserts that it's "much worse" to be uninsured than insured. Empirical data shows that this is tragically and counter-intuitively not necessarily true, at least for those who are now covered under Medicaid.

(2) Obamacare will "never" meet its enrollment goal:  The administration's shortfall in sign-ups has, indeed, been a familiar refrain among the law's critics.  Perhaps that's because the Obamacare sign-ups did fail to meet the White House's public projections during the 2013-2014 open enrollment period.  The administration significantly inflated their stats in several ways to hide this fact. (Kliff acknowledges one recently-revealed form of malfeasance, moving the goalposts to celebrate how Obamacare "didn't completely miss" its targets). The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office also downgraded enrollment projections for 2015 by millions of people.  At the behest of Democrats on the Hill, the White House has now added an unscheduled, on-the-fly enrollment period later this year.  Finally on this point, I repeat: It's very strange to boast that millions of people have signed up for insurance due to a law that legally requires them to sign up for insurance.

(3) Obamacare will wreak havoc on the economy: Silly conservatives insisted that Obamacare would hurt the economy and kill jobs, Kliff sighs, eagerly noting that job and economic growth has continued on an upward trajectory since the law passed.  She concedes that the healthcare law does not deserve "all" of the credit for this great news, but look at all these charts showing job growth since 2010!  The US economy's historically slow, plodding recovery has most arrows pointed in the right direction, but a strong case can be made that these positive trends have emerged despite Obamacare's impact -- and have likely been slowed down by it.  CBO's 2014 assessment determined that the ACA will reduce overall full time American employment by the equivalent of 2.5 million workers over the next ten years.  The report stated that employment gains will "be smaller than [they] would have in the absence of the ACA."  CBO cited the law's work disincentives as a "central factor in slowing economic growth," both now and in the future.

(4) The website will never work: In an especially unfortunate bit of timing for Kliff (and the president, who'd just assured his nodding supporters at Vox that Healthcare.gov was working "flawlessly"), her football spike was quickly exposed as...premature.  Within days, a spate of errors and glitches caused headaches for hundreds of thousands of Obamacare consumers.  It was also revealed that bugs in the system are blocking newborn infants from being added to coverage.  Furthermore, H&R block estimates that a majority of Obamacare subsidy recipients will be forced to pay back at least a portion of their taxpayer-funded assistance, due to miscalculations and incorrect income estimates.  These problems are so widespread because Healthcare.gov's so-called "back end," which is supposed to streamline the process of reconciling this type of data, is still incomplete.  It was supposed to be fully built by late 2013.  It's now 2015.  It's also worth pointing out that taxpayers have spent more than $2 billion on the federal website.  For $2 billion, that site really should be working "flawlessly."  It's not.  Still.

(5) Only people who had coverage are signing up:  Yes, some of Obamacare's enrollees were previously uninsured.  But millions of them were not.  There's a debate over how many "new enrollees" touted by the Obama administration already had coverage prior to their plans getting canceled, but every estimate shows it's a substantial percentage.  The White House cannot reasonably celebrate as "new" these millions of coerced enrollments.  Conservative healthcare wonk Avik Roy runs the numbers and concludes that only about five million of the administration's claimed 11.4 million exchange enrollees previously lacked coverage.  Kliff offers an array of estimates on this front, the best of which (by far) comes from...the Obama administration, which she's already acknowledged has been caught cooking the books.

(6) Obamacare would cause a net-loss of insurance: This "prediction" only applied to very limited period of time, in the midst of the infamous 2013-2014 enrollment meltdown.  Most people conceded that eventually, more people would have insurance than would not.  Once again, the law mandates that people get insurance.  Interestingly, two comprehensive government studies released late last year suggested that the ranks of the uninsured had either slightly increased (US Census Bureau), or had been reduced by far fewer people than Obamacare supporters have claimed (Centers for Disease Control).  Even on this slam dunk outcome, Obamacare is not an unvarnished success.

(7) Premiums will skyrocket: Americans were promised, over and over again, that Obamacare would substantially reduce everyone's rates.  Instead, premiums have continued to tick up overall, and they have skyrocketed by double digits for many consumers.  Kliff and others are reduced to arguing that aggregate premium increases are less steep than they have been in the past, as if that proves critics wrong.  Unless the average family is paying less in premiums ($2,500 less per year, in fact), critics are not wrong.  Various healthcare experts also argue that premium hikes have been superficially and temporarily held down by certain price control provisions within the law that will expire in the next few years.  They anticipate an additional bout of major rate increases when that happens.  Another way Obamacare plans have staved off major premium increases is by severely limiting provider and coverage networks, resulting in major frustration and "access shock" for many "beneficiaries."  Finally, the fixation on premiums also distracts from the biggest cost-related challenge facing Obamacare consumers: Unaffordable out of-pocket-costs, including huge deductibles and expensive co-pays.  Among the tens of millions of Americans who remain uninsured under Obamacare, the number one reason they cite for declining to participate in the new law is lack of affordability.

(8) Obamacare just can't work: This is a subjective statement, but it's basically correct.  Far more Americans say the law has directly harmed their families than helped, Obamacare's popularity remains significantly underwater, and the law is objectively not working the way it was marketed.  Not even close.  Kliff cites a study showing that "most" Obamacare consumers have been able to get doctors appointments within two weeks.  Even if we take this study at face value, a large minority of consumers also say they've had to wait weeks or months -- or haven't been able to see a doctor at all.  This is nevertheless presented as evidence of the law "working."  Kliff also admits that there isn't a lot of data yet on Obamacare's promise of cost-curve bending, though many supporters have misleadingly credited the law with the recent slowdown in the rate of over spending increases (which is accurately attributed to the sluggish economy).

Some Obamacare opponents overstated and exaggerated predictions about the law's deleterious effects.  Critics were virtually unanimous, however, in stating that Democrats' hugely expensive and disruptive policy experiment would fail to deliver on many of the core pledges upon which it was sold to the public.  They were unambiguously correct on the whole, and the American people know it.  Far from being "debunked," the anti-Obamacare case has been exonerated by actual outcomes, in remarkable detail and breadth -- and no tendentious Voxplanation can change that reality.

Editor's Note: A version of this item is cross-posted at HotAir.com

Epilepsy Foundation Head Urges Nationwide Medical Marijuana Availability

In 2013, a six-year-old epilepsy patient named Charlotte Figi was featured in a CNN documentary about medical marijuana following a dramatic improvement in her condition after she began ingesting a low-THC strain of marijuana named "Charlotte's Web." Figi's parents turned to medical marijuana (in the form of cannabis oil) as a last resort to treat their daughter's seizure disorder, which was causing about 300 grand mal seizures per week. Figi's seizures were reduced from 1,200 a month to just three in eight months following the beginning of her treatment. Now, the head of Epilepsy Foundation is urging for nationwide availability of the strain, saying that parents of sick children shouldn't be forced to move to Colorado to treat their children.

“There is enough evidence to suggest we should really try and study this,” said father Warren Lammert.

His daughter, Sylvie, had her first seizure at 9 months old.

“She had an implanted medical device, she’s tried the ketogenic diet but we haven’t found anything that will control her seizures,” said Lammert.

Sylvie is now 16 and despite numerous treatments still lives with daily seizures.

“She’s delayed and she’s in a special school,” said Lammert.

Lammert is chairman of the board of the Epilepsy Foundation and has enrolled Sylvie in a clinical trial of CBD at New York University.

“I feel blessed to at least have the hope of this new therapy and I feel other fathers other mothers, other families should have that hope and have that option,” said Lammert.

The Charlotte's Web strain does not result in a "high" due to its low THC content. It is distributed through oil placed under the tongue.

Epilepsy is not an easy illness to treat, and each patient will respond differently to different forms of treatment. While this particular strain of marijuana may not help every patient, it's clear that it is effective at improving the quality of life of at least some epileptics. Why should the government have the power to deny a sick child access to potentially life-changing medication?

Marijuana is currently classified as a "Schedule I" drug, which is the same level as heroin and ecstasy. Being a Schedule I drug means that there is "no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S." This clearly isn't true, as evidenced by the thousands of people who use marijuana to treat everything from anorexia nervosa to glaucoma. If a politician proposed banning a form of chemotherapy in some states, but not others, they'd be laughed out of the room and rightfully called a quack. Politics shouldn't get in the way of helping those who need it, and medications should be available nationwide.

Surprise: ISIS Beheader Jihadi John Came From an Affluent London Neighborhood

Jihadi John, the masked ISIS fighter shown speaking in an English accent before beheading American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley on video last year, came from an affluent London neighborhood according to a new report in the Washington Post.

According to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize.

Just last week, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf argued jobs were the way to defeat ISIS fighters.

"We cannot kill our way out of this war," Harf said. "We can help them [Muslim countries] build their economy so they can have job opportunities for these people."

Thousands of fighters are pouring into Iraq and Syria from economically sound countries like Great Britain and even the United States. There are now more British volunteers for ISIS than there are for the British armed forces. It isn't poverty that is causing Muslim men to flock to ISIS, it's a dedication to radical Islamic ideology.

Mike Lee at CPAC: Beware Of Conservatives of "Platitudes"

Sen. Mike Lee helped open up CPAC 2015, taking the stage before 9 AM on the first full day of the conference, to tell the assembled crowd of conservative activists to support potential presidential candidates who have positive, specific messages, and to beware of those who speak in platitudes.

"Specificity is crucial," Sen. Lee said. "It's essential. Abstractions are the province of candidates who say one thing on the campaign trail and do quite another in office."

Lee said that a winning conservative candidate should be "principled, positive, and proven."

When it comes to principles, Lee said that conservatives shouldn't fear internecine disagreements. "Real conservatives don't run away from disagreements," he said. "They run toward them." Disagreements within conservatism about what conservatism means isn't something that conservatives should fear. It should be embraced.

There are too many conservatives in the Obama era defining themselves by what they're for and not what they're against, and Sen. Lee took aim at this kind of a "negative" agenda. "True conservatism isn't about the kind of government we don't want," Lee said. "It's about the kind of government we do want."

"We need to be willing to expect more out of our would-be leaders... our job is not just to find the guy who can shout 'FREEDOM' the loudest."

Lee said that a proven candidate would be someone who has shown an ability to win elections - and to govern in a way that proves they deserved to win that election. A candidate with, in Lee's words, the "battle scars" to prove they're capable of both winning and leading the country.

"When conservatives elevate unserious candidates–candidates who are not principled, positive, and proven–it's not the media's fault. It's not the establishment's fault. It's our fault."

Ben Carson at CPAC: "We Need to Stop Sitting Quietly By"

Dr. Ben Carson, for his part, had the honor of delivering the first CPAC speech of 2015. Despite his early morning remarks, however, he earned loud plaudits from the audience on several occasions. And while he touched on both domestic and foreign policy, he mostly discussed his dissatisfaction with the “PC police” and the current administration.

“It’s interesting to me that the Left in particular loves to re-label and rename things,” he said. “For instance, if you’re pro-life, you’re anti-woman. If you’re pro-traditional family, then you’re a homophobe…if you’re black, and you oppose a progressive agenda, you’re crazy.”

“We have to stop sitting quietly by,” he urged the audience.

He also expressed concern about the failure of Big Government, and its alarming growth and expansion since the 1960s.

“In 1969, 1.4 percent of our population was on food stamps,” he intoned. “Today, more than 14 percent are on food stamps – a ten fold increase.”

“We need to change course,” he said.

Not surprisingly, he also discussed the importance of having compassion for the poor and less fortunate.

“We are a very smart people and a very compassionate people, and we need to find out how [to] strengthen the framework of this country,” he said. “It is our responsibility to take care of the indigent; it is not the government’s responsibility.”

Most memorably, he recalled a story that recently deeply affected him. When he was at the airport several months ago, a woman approached him expressing broad support for his ideas, but wondered why he didn’t want “poor people to have health care.”

“You’ve been listening to the propaganda,” he said in reply. The truth is, he told the audience, is that he wants everyone to have health care, but the best way to do that is to first repeal a broken and unworkable law.

“[Obamacare] is absolutely about redistribution and control,” he emphasized.

Inspectors General to Update Congress on IRS Scandal Investigation, Lerner's 'Missing' Emails

Thursday night the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations will update the House Oversight Committee on the status of former IRS official Lois Lerner's "missing" emails. 

As a reminder, last year IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said two years of Lerner's emails, between 2010 and 2012, had been "lost" in a hard drive crash. A few months later, some of those emails were recovered after Koskinen said under oath they had been lost forever. Since the announcement of the missing emails, Congress has asked Inspectors General from different departments to look into their recovery. The emails are key in getting to the bottom of the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. 

"House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz remains concerned the IRS potentially mislead the American people about its efforts to recover former Director Lerner’s emails. The IRS has claimed under oath that most of her emails from a key time period were destroyed by a crashed hard drive, that back-up tapes were erased, and were therefore unrecoverable," a statement from the Committee says. "Through their ongoing efforts, the Inspector General’s office has discovered that the back-up tapes do exist, the data on them was never erased, and the emails are in fact recoverable."

The hearing starts at 7 p.m. eastern. You can watch live here.

CPAC 2015 Kicks Off With Heavy 2016 Presidential Speaking Line-Up

The 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference kicks off today at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel in Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C. This year's conference will no doubt determine the future of the Republican Party and possibly the country as potential 2016 presidential candidates hit the stage to make their case.

"The American Conservative Union has an important role to play as the Republican presidential nominating process begins at CPAC 2015. Nearly every top-tier candidate will appear and speak at the event. Our goal is to continue the tradition of bringing together the leaders of the conservative movement with activists from around the country. We want to have a meaningful discussion about conservative policy solutions while getting the first major look at those who would seek to lead conservatives and Republicans. 2015 is the critical year, due in large part to the fact that conservatives will play the largest role in picking the next GOP nominee in key states," American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp told Fox News' Dana Perino recently. "The field is large, interesting, and filled with strong candidates. I believe the most important role of ACU is to encourage a lively debate and primary process while at the same time reminding activists that the goal is to defeat the Democratic candidate. We want a conservative standard bearer, balanced with the absolute necessity to win. A Democratic win that would mirror a third Obama term would be a catastrophe for the federal judiciary, American energy production, the regulatory state and with the reemergence of the threat from radical Islam. The conservative movement needs to be ready for its close-up because the stakes are high."

Potential 2016 GOP candidates slated to hit the CPAC stage over the next three days include Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Mike Pence, Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, John Bolton, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry. Carson will kick off the conference Thursday morning as the first speaker. 

Heavy hitting conservative radio hosts who will be speaking include Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and others. Panel topics range on everything from intellectual property, pro-life politics to foreign policy with a heavy focus on what activists can do to make a difference.

CPAC is one of the biggest political and media events of the year. More than ten-thousand people have registered to attend this year's conference, which has been significantly growing in size since its launch back in 1974. 

Obama Tells Prosecutors They Have No Discretion On Immigration

President Obama's entire legal defense for his executive amnesty programs is that the executive branch must be afforded prosecutorial discretion when enforcing immigration laws.

So it might be a problem for his legal defense team when Obama admitted Wednesday at a Telemundo townhall that immigration officials under his policy have no prosecutorial discretion.

"The bottom line is that if somebody;s working for [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]  and there is a policy and they don't follow the policy there's going to be consequences to it."

You can watch the exchange below:

Steyer Group Linked With Kitzhaber's Downfall

John Kitzhaber has left Oregon’s governorship in disgrace. He resigned after it was discovered that Cylvia Hayes, Kitzhaber’s fiancé, received nearly $120,000 in consultant fees from other clean energy groups outside the state, while also working for Kitzhaber on green energy policy, according to the Oregonian last January:

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, has confirmed she collected $118,000 in previously undisclosed payments from an out-of-state clean energy group while she was advising the governor on clean energy policy.

Clean Economy Development Center of Washington, D.C., paid her $30,000 in 2011 and $88,000 in 2012.

The disclosures mean Hayes has collected at least $213,000 in consulting fees since Kitzhaber took office in 2011. She serves as first lady of Oregon.

The admitted payouts conflict with statements Kitzhaber has made regarding Hayes' consulting work, how his office handled her contracts and statements he has made in his annual ethics filings.

The income also doesn't match what's reported for those years on federal tax forms Hayes provided to The Oregonian/OregonLive. And one contractor reported Wednesday that it had paid Hayes $10,000 more for yet another contract than Hayes reported to the governor's office.

Shortly thereafter, then-Gov. Kitzhaber announced that Hayes would not work in any capacity with the governor’s office for the rest of his term; he had just won re-election in 2014. That didn’t hold the dam, as the Atlantic reported. Yet, one thing that was strange was the fact that Kitzhaber–seeing Democratic support disappear–actually was going to resign, but then changed his mind:

On January 30, in an effort to stanch the bleeding, Kitzhaber announced that Hayes would not serve in any role for the rest of his four-year term as governor. It didn't end the flap. The Oregonian, calling the press conference "disastrous," called on him to resign. Some of Kitzhaber's fellow Democrats are calling on him to resign; others, while stopping short of that, have conspicuously avoided defending him. He has also called on the attorney general to launch a full factual review, which appears to be unprecedented in state history. Meanwhile, he has pledged to cooperate with an inquiry by the state ethics commission, but apparently worked hard to prevent the inquiry from beginning in the first case.

All of this culminated in reports Wednesday that Kitzhaber was on the verge of resignation, fueled in part by Secretary of State Kate Brown ending a trip to D.C. early to return home. The truth was even stranger, according to Oregonian reporter Laurie Gunderson: Kitzhaber planned to resign, then changed his mind.

Democrats can also safely abandon Kitzhaber because of the state's succession law. The state has no lieutenant governor, but in case of a vacancy in the governor's office, the secretary of state would take over until the next biennial election, in 2016. Kate Brown, who holds that job, is a Democrat.

When the Oregonian reported that Hayes secured more money from jobs secured through Kitzhaber aides, it made it that much easier for Democrats to jump ship. Oh, and Hayes used the office of the governor for personal favors. But, no bid deal, right? Via WaPo:

The Oregonian’s Nick Budnick and Laura Gunderson reported this week that two Kitzhaber aides connected Hayes with well-paying jobs just as they joined the governor’s administration, earning Hayes $25,000 over five months for one and $118,000 over two years from another. (The latter was first uncovered by Hillary Borrud, of the Portland Tribune.) All told, Hayes has collected at least $213,000 in various consulting fees since Kitzhaber took office in 2011.

The first job was a five-month stint with Rural Development Initiatives, a nonprofit promoting rural jobs, that was arranged in part by Greg Wolf, currently Kitzhaber’s deputy chief of staff for field implementation.

We already discussed the dealings with the Clean Economy Development Center, which was secured through Kitzhaber’s campaign adviser Dan Carol. He helped get the funding for Hayes’ fellowship, according to WaPo’s Niraj Chokshi.

Oh, here’s the personal favors bit:

In 2013, the governor’s chief of staff and his general counsel both wrote in a set of conflict-of-interest guidelines that Hayes should not use the “first lady” title in her private business dealings, Willamette Week, an alternative weekly, reported in October. One month later, a new version was issued, dropping both that requirement and another that prohibited the use of the governor’s mansion for that private work. A spokesman told the publication that earlier directives were drafts and that the latter guideline was the final version.

Then, in December, a cache of public records released to the Oregonian showed that Hayes had repeatedly used Kitzhaber’s office for personal matters, including tasking them “with mundane personal responsibilities ranging from helping sneak cats into a hotel room to complaining over a delayed flight,” the Oregonian reported.

So, where does Tom Steyer come into all of this? Well, he’s pretty involved with the Clean Economy Development Center (CEDC). In fact, as Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon wrote around the time of Kitzhaber’s resignation, Steyer partially financed the CEDC himself. In fact, the CEDC just seems to be a nexus point for the various elements of the Steyer clan:

Steyer has donated millions to a group that helped finance Hayes’ position, which could ensnare one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent fundraisers in the scandal.

Hayes was reportedly a fellow at the CEDC in 2011 and 2012, but as of late as August of last year, she was still listed on a since-deleted page of its website.

Also listed on that page was Kate Gordon, a member of the CEDC’s board. Gordon leads the energy and climate division of Next Generation, an environmental nonprofit group founded by Steyer.

Another director of the group, according to the website, was Mike Casey.

Casey runs a media and public relations firm called Tigercomm that does polling and advertising work for Steyer’s Super PAC, NextGen Climate Action.

Casey reportedly wrote NextGen’s communications strategy for its involvement in elections in Massachusetts and Virginia in 2013. NextGen and another Steyer group, the CE Action Committee, paid Tigercomm $387,000 that year.

BBC Poll: 27 Percent of British Muslims Sympathize with 'Charlie Hebdo' Shooters


This seems like a solid enough news hook to revisit a theme I addressed shortly after the Paris attacks, when the Obama administration's 'radical-Islamist-violence-has-nothing-to-do-with-Islam' rhetoric was in full throat.  Via The Telegraph:

One in four British Muslims sympathise with terrorists behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks, a new poll shows. A poll reveals how a significant minority of Muslims endorse terrorist atrocities against those who mock the Prophet Mohammed. Some 27 per cent of British Muslims said they have "some sympathy for the motives behind the attacks" on the Paris magazine, according to polling by ComRes for the BBC. A further 32 per cent said they were not surprised by the attacks. Some 11 per cent said that magazines which publish images of the Prophet Mohammed "deserve to be attacked." And only 68 per cent of British Muslims said that attacks on the publishers of images of the Prophet are "never" justified, while 24 disagreed.

The BBC poll also found that 95 percent of Muslims polled express loyalty to Britain, with 93 percent agreeing that British laws must be obeyed.  I'm...not quite sure how to square those numbers with other survey findings -- like the one-in-five British Muslims who believe Islam is incompatible with Western society, the worrisome degree of sympathy for the Charlie Hebdo terrorists, and the 11 percent faction that proactively supports attacks on "those who slander the prophet of Islam" (the ultimate discussion-enders).  It would appear as though a sizable chunk of British Muslims think they can applaud, or at least relate to, stone-cold Islamist killers while also being perfectly loyal Britons.  Hmm.  According to census data, roughly 2.8 million Muslims live in the UK, so if you extrapolate the numbers, approximately 750,000 British Muslims fall into the "sympathetic" category.  More than 300,000 are in the ghoulish "attaboy" camp.  By the way, the BBC's headline on its own poll highlights the fact that most respondents "oppose Mohammad cartoon reprisals."  That's certainly welcome news, but it buries the lead.  Relatedly, when hundreds of mourners turned out to pay respects to the dead jihadi who shot up a free speech event in Copenhagen last week, Allahpundit made an incisive point about often-ignored, uncomfortable gray areas within our lexical tug-of-war over Islam and extremism:

To say that most Muslims are peaceful is true but also simplistic. There’s el-Hussein, the killer; there’s the people who stayed away from his funeral today in contempt (the Danish Islamic Burial Fund objected to el-Hussein’s burial in their cemetery); and then there’s that “circle of acquaintances,” numbering well into the hundreds, who haven’t picked up a gun themselves but for whatever reason feel sufficiently comfortable with what this degenerate did that they’ll show up in full view of news cameras to pay their respects. Obama has no problem denouncing the first group — every population has its nuts and fanatics — and no problem praising the second, but you rarely hear him talk at length about the third.

What are we to make of this third group?  Do they count as peaceable?  Radical?  One thing's for sure: They'd absolutely reject the fashionable, blithe pronouncements that they don't count as true Muslims -- as would the ISIS savages, for that matter.  I understand that Western leaders must walk something of a tightrope in distinguishing between radical Islamists and the peaceful majority of worldwide Muslims.  "We are not at war with Islam" is an important truth that must be reiterated often; Al Qaeda and ISIS recruitment propaganda makes the opposite claim for a reason.  But responsible push-back crosses into counter-productive territory when the official line bears no resemblance to reality.  Virtually nobody -- not Americans, not the terrorists, nobody -- actually believes that Islamic extremism is totally divorced from Islam. Mule-headedly peddling that fiction therefore comes across not as nuanced tolerance, but as morally-confused and dangerously naive weakness.  Western leaders should spend less time mouthing feel-goodery, and more time offering strong support for the brave and critically important efforts of Egypt's president:


While our president assures us that the jihadi cancer has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, al-Sisi is calling for an intra-Islam "revolution" to reject and defeat the jihadi cancer within its ranks. The disconnect is striking. Parting thought: How would Western politically-correct apology brigades categorize the views of this Norwegian cleric and his congregation?


"Every now and then, every time we have a conference, every time we invite a speaker, they [the media] always come with the same accusations: This speaker supports the death penalty for homosexuals, this speaker supports the death penalty for this crime or this crime or that he is homophobic, that he subjugates women, etcetera,” said Qureshi in a video posted by the Middle East Memory Research Institute (MEMRI). "We always try to tell them,” he continued, “I always try to tell them that it is not that speaker that we are inviting who has these 'extreme radical views,' as you say. These are general views that every Muslim actually has...Every Muslim believes in these things,” said Qureshi...

Who is better equipped to discuss and decide who qualifies as a 'genuine' Muslim: Mr. Qureshi, or Josh Earnest?

Editor's note: A version of this item is cross-posted at HotAir.com

The "Less Rosy" Side of the Unemployment Rate

The official unemployment rate has been dropping, but as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen conceded Tuesday, the national economic state is “less rosy” than these numbers suggest.

The authoritative report produced each month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has created a narrow criterion for determining who is “unemployed.” For example, the report does not include “discouraged workers,” or in the vernacular, people who have become convinced there are no jobs available and have stopped looking.

The Mercatus Center explained:

The most commonly reported unemployment rate—5.7 percent in January 2015—is defined as the number of people without jobs who are available to work and are actively seeking work in the four weeks preceding the survey as a percentage of the labor force (the sum of employed and unemployed persons in the economy). At first glimpse, the 5.7 percent official US unemployment rate appears to be good news. Indeed, the early data show that the economy did add 257,000 jobs in January.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes the persons described above as the  “U-3 Persons Unemployed” and releases the data as the “official unemployment rate.” Questionably missing in their number crunching are the U-4 (“discouraged workers”), the U-5 (people who are available and are looking for work, but have not actively searched in the four weeks prior to the survey), and the U-6 (part time workers who are “underemployed").

Below is a chart showing the how these added categories of the unemployed would alter the way we view the official unemployment rate:

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 1.27.43 PM.png

As you can see, the government’s strict measuring stick overlooks much of the struggling workforce.

When asked about the restriction during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday Yellen responded:

“The U-6 is a broader measure of unemployment, and it includes marginally attached and discouraged workers and also an unusually large number of individuals who are working part-time who would like full-time jobs, so it is a much broader indicator of underemployment or unemployment in the U.S. economy. And a lot of it’s come down. It was 12.1 percent a year ago. It’s come down from there to 11.3. It definitely shows a less rosy picture than U-3 or the 5.7 percent number.”

The number is certainly less rosy and also calls into question why the rubric exists as it does today. You can hear more of Yellen’s explanation below.


Netanyahu Declines Senate Democrats' Invitation


National Democrats are casting about for ways to affirm their support for Israel while also signaling loyalty to President Obama and his bruised ego. Obama has presided over an unprecedented cold spell in US-Israeli relations, thanks to a toxic combination of his personal dislike of Benjamin Netanyahu (evidently shared by many within his administration) and his historically unfriendly posture toward our close ally.  Some Senate Democrats sought to offer Netanyahu an opportunity to address their caucus in private, perhaps giving members cover to demonstrate pro-Obama solidarity by skipping the Prime Minister's controversial address to a joint session of Congress next week. Netanyahu isn't playing along:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined on Tuesday an invitation to meet with U.S. Senate Democrats during his trip to Washington next week. "Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit," Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein obtained by Reuters. Durbin and Feinstein, two senior Senate Democrats, invited Netanyahu to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators in a letter on Monday, warning that making U.S.-Israeli relations a partisan political issue could have "lasting repercussions" ... In his letter, Netanyahu said he agreed "wholeheartedly" that strong ties between the United States and Israel have been built on bipartisan support....He expressed appreciation for the opportunity to address lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday and said he regretted that the invitation has been perceived by some as partisan. "I can assure you my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel's grave concerns about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country," Netanyahu wrote.

We'll return to the rumored Iran deal in a moment, but first, Congressional Democrats must decide whether their loyalties lie with Obama's partisan sensitivities, or America's best friend in the Middle East.  The White House has been fuming over the fact that House Speaker John Boehner broke protocol by extending an invitation to Netanyahu without notifying the president.  At first, the spun a rumor that the Israeli leader had accepted prior to Obama even knowing about the invite, but that turned out to be false.  The Obama administration has demonstrated little respect for the separation of powers, except when it serves their immediate political interests; in those cases, they become real sticklers.  One Democrat whose added his name to the boycott list is Senator (and former DNC Chair) Tim Kaine, who's apparently following the anti-Israel lead of his fellow Virginia Democrats.  Liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz, a strong Israel supporter, is aghast at his party's conduct:

As a liberal Democrat who twice campaigned for President Barack Obama , I am appalled that some Democratic members of Congress are planning to boycott the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 3 to a joint session of Congress. At bottom, this controversy is not mainly about protocol and politics—it is about the constitutional system of checks and balances and the separation of powers. Under the Constitution, the executive and legislative branches share responsibility for making and implementing important foreign-policy decisions. Congress has a critical role to play in scrutinizing the decisions of the president when these decisions involve national security, relationships with allies and the threat of nuclear proliferation. Congress has every right to invite, even over the president’s strong objection, any world leader or international expert who can assist its members in formulating appropriate responses to the current deal being considered with Iran regarding its nuclear-weapons program. Indeed, it is the responsibility of every member of Congress to listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who probably knows more about this issue than any world leader, because it threatens the very existence of the nation state of the Jewish people. Congress has the right to disagree with the prime minister, but the idea that some members of Congress will not give him the courtesy of listening violates protocol and basic decency to a far greater extent than anything Mr. Netanyahu is accused of doing for having accepted an invitation from Congress.

Dershowitz notes that it's really Obama who's attacking the Constitution's separation-of-powers framework, reasoning, "what the president objects to is not that Mr. Netanyahu will speak to Congress, but the content of what he intends to say. This constitutes a direct intrusion on the power of Congress and on the constitutional separation of powers."  True. Obama has long been obsessed with the legacy project of striking a "groundbreaking" and "historic" nuclear deal with regime in Tehran.  Netanyahu fears that the bargain would endanger his people, and would foolishly assume the good intentions of Iran's leaders.  Obama doesn't want that message forcefully delivered to Congress, which could complicate the politics surrounding his prized negotiations.  The tentative outlines of a possible pact with Iran are starting to leak into the press:

The United States and Iran are shaping the contours of a deal that would initially freeze Tehran's nuclear program but would allow it to slowly ramp up activities that could be used to make nuclear arms over the last years of the agreement's duration...The idea would be to reward Iran for good behavior over the last years of any agreement, by gradually lifting constraints on its uranium enrichment program imposed as part of a deal that would also would slowly ease sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Iran says it does not want nuclear arms and needs enrichment only for energy, medical and scientific purposes, but the U.S. fears Tehran could re-engineer the program to its other potential use - producing the fissile core of a nuclear weapon. The U.S. initially sought restrictions lasting for up to 20 years; Iran had pushed for less than a decade. Iran could be allowed to operate significantly more centrifuges than the U.S. administration first demanded, though at lower capacity than they currently run. Several officials spoke of 6,500 centrifuges as a potential point of compromise. If the sides agree on 15 years, for instance, the strict controls could be in place for 10 years with gradual lifting over five. Possible easing of the controls could see Iran increasing the number of enriching centrifuges back toward the 10,000 or so it now has operating, and increasing the level of enrichment while keeping it well below levels approaching weapons-grade.

Charles Krauthammer calls this "an unbelievably bad deal:"


In that same Special Report segment, Stephen Hayes recapped the reporting of his Weekly Standard colleague, who has revealed the Obama administration's own assessment of a deadly arrangement between Iran and Al Qaeda. The US government regards Iran as the world's chief exporter of terrorism, notorious for habitually cheating on international deals. It's no wonder that even some liberal Democrats are gravely concerned about the White House's interactions with the dangerous, genocidal regime -- whose negotiators are reputed to be abusive toward their Western counterparts. Netanyahu's speech is scheduled for next Tuesday. Polls are mixed regarding the public's stance on the circumstances surrounding his remarks, but Israel itself remains extraordinarily popular among the American people.

Yes Obama's Amnesties Do Increase Deficits

Yesterday I asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest to justify White House claims that President Obama's immigration executive actions reduce federal deficits in light of a letter from the Congressional Budget Office showing that they increase on-budget deficits by $8.8 billion. 

Earnest then claimed that I was reading the letter wrong, and that the letter actually said that Obama's immigration actions reduced deficits by $8 billion.

I then acknowledged that Earnest was half right. That if you consider the unified budget, in other words if all federal taxes, including payroll taxes, go into just one big general fund, then the CBO letter did say that Obama's immigration actions do reduce deficits by $7.5 billion over ten years.

But that is not how federal budgets work. Payroll taxes are required, by law, to go to the Social Security Trust Fund where they are required, by law, to be saved to pay for future Social Security benefits. 

Once we take these Social Security payroll taxes out of the picture, as federal law requires us to do, Obama's executive actions actually increase deficits over the next ten years.

Earnest then responded, "Well, I may have somebody who is more steeped in the budgetary details. My understanding is that this would have a positive impact on our deficit precisely because for the first time what we’d be doing is we’d be bringing people out of the shadows and actually making them pay taxes. That would be a good thing for the life of Social Security. It would be a good thing for our economy. And ultimately, it would be a good thing for the deficit. But we can have somebody follow up with you on your -- on what may be a more detailed question."

It has now been more than 24 hours. I have emailed Earnest and his assistants three times and have received no explanation.

That might be because the CBO letter clearly states that while Obama's immigration executive actions do increase non-Social Security payroll tax revenues by $5.24 billion, they also increase direct federal spending by $14.87 billion, netting an on-budget deficit of $8.8 billion.

The bulk of that increased direct spending comes from $10.25 billion in Earned Income Tax Credit benefits, $1.5 billion in health care spending, and $1.1 billion in Supplemental Social Security spending.

And as far as Earnest's claims about Obama's executive actions being "a good thing for the life of Social Security," according to the Social Security Administration, Obama's executive action would only delay bankruptcy of the Social Security Trust Fund by an entire 3 months (it s scheduled it go bankrupt in 2033) and it would harm Social Security net cash flow for every year after 2045.

Either way, both short- and long-term, Obama's executive amnesties are a terrible deal for American taxpayers.

UPDATE: The White House has responded, but only "on background" so I can't quote them. They do admit that Obama's executive actions do increase on-budget deficits. But they also claim that the "on-budget" concept is not a good picture of federal revenues and spending.

You can watch the full exchange below:

Democrats "I Trust Scientists" Tweet Backfires Hilariously

The official Twitter of the Democrat Party attempted to be snarky today and tweeted an image that implied that Republicans are anti-science:

...Right.

(Monsanto is an agriculture company that creates GMOs. The left does not like Monsanto at all.)

(Here's 41 quotes from medical textbooks, written by scientists and used to educate future scientists and doctors, saying that life begins at conception.)

For what it's worth, "settled" science can be wrong, as evidenced by new research showing that cholesterol and coffee may not actually be all that bad for us. Heck, it was "settled science" that Pluto was a planet. While I'm generally inclined to trust people who are smarter than me and have advanced degrees in a particular subject, it is important to recognize that new discoveries are made all the time. Blanket statements like these are foolish.

This being said, there's apparently at least one set of scientists the Democrats don't trust: the ones who said that the Keystone XL Pipeline will "not significantly worsen" the environment.

Awkward.

O'Reilly, The Man Who Wasn't There?

Brian Williams’ suspension was a huge blow to NBC News. A flagship of the mainstream media was broadsided with a torpedo after Williams pretty much lied about his Iraq war exploits and other stories relating to the Lebanon War in 2006 and Hurricane Katrina. It was a fiasco. Some on the progressive left felt the need to respond. Enter David Corn of the left-leaning Mother Jones magazine.

Corn claims that Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly has his own “Brian Williams” problem. While working for CBS News in the 1980s, O’Reilly was sent to Argentina during the Falklands War and El Salvador to cover the conflicts there. He’s also been in Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Corn alleges that O’Reilly embellished his account of events, like Williams, specifically about the Falklands War where he said he was in a “war zone”– and using them to shore up his “combat-hardened” journalist bona fides. So, was O’Reilly that man who wasn’t there during the Falklands War? Well, it turns out it’s pretty much grounded in semantics, but first; here’s Corn’s lengthy piece he wrote along with Daniel Schulman, also of Mother Jones, about this whole…thing:

  • In his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America, O'Reilly stated, "You know that I am not easily shocked. I've reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands."
  • Conservative journalist Tucker Carlson, in a 2003 book, described how O'Reilly answered a question during a Washington panel discussion about media coverage of the Afghanistan war: "Rather than simply answer the question, O'Reilly began by trying to establish his own bona fides as a war correspondent. 'I've covered wars, okay? I've been there. The Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Middle East. I've almost been killed three times, okay.'"
  • In a 2004 column about US soldiers fighting in Iraq, O'Reilly noted, "Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash."
  • In 2008, he took a shot at journalist Bill Moyers, saying, "I missed Moyers in the war zones of [the] Falkland conflict in Argentina, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland. I looked for Bill, but I didn't see him."

Yet his own account of his time in Argentina in his 2001 book, The No Spin Zone, contains no references to O'Reilly experiencing or covering any combat during the Falklands war. In the book, which in part chronicles his troubled stint as a CBS News reporter, O'Reilly reports that he arrived in Buenos Aires soon before the Argentine junta surrendered to the British, ending the 10-week war over control of two territories far off the coast of Argentina. There is nothing in this memoir indicating that O'Reilly witnessed the fighting between British and Argentine military forces—or that he got anywhere close to the Falkland Islands, which are 300 miles off Argentina's shore and about 1,200 miles south of Buenos Aires.

Given the remote location of the war zone—which included the British territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, more than 1,400 miles offshore—few reporters were able to witness and report on the combat that claimed the lives of about 900 Argentine and British troops. The government in London only allowed about 30 British journalists to accompany its military forces.

American reporters were not on the ground in this distant war zone. "Nobody got to the war zone during the Falklands war," Susan Zirinsky, a longtime CBS News producer who helped manage the network's coverage of the war from Buenos Aires, tells Mother Jones. She does not remember what O'Reilly did during his time in Argentina. But she notes that the military junta kept US reporters from reaching the islands: "You weren't allowed on by the Argentinians. No CBS person got there."

That's how Bob Schieffer, who was CBS News' lead correspondent covering the Falklands war, recalls it: "Nobody from CBS got to the Falklands. I came close. We'd been trying to get somebody down there. It was impossible." He notes that NBC News reporter Robin Lloyd was the only American network correspondent to reach the islands. 

...

O'Reilly did see some action in Argentina—just not war action. He writes in The No Spin Zone that shortly after he hit Buenos Aires—where CBS News had set up a large bureau in the Sheraton hotel—thousands of Argentines took to the streets, angry at the military junta for having yielded to the Brits.

O'Reilly's account of the protest in Buenos Aires is at odds with news reports from the time—including the report from his own bureau. The CBS Evening News that night aired about a minute of video of the protest, apparently including some of the footage that O'Reilly and his camera team had obtained. It showed angry Argentines yelling and denouncing the junta that had lost the war. The only act of violence in the spot was a man throwing a punch against the car of a Canadian news crew.

The protest in Buenos Aires was not combat. Nor was it part of the Falklands war. It happened more than a thousand miles from the war—after the fighting was over. Yet O'Reilly has referred to his work in Argentina—and his rescue of his cameraman—as occurring in a "war zone." And he once told a viewer who caught his show in Argentina, "Tell everybody down there I covered the Falklands war. They'll remember."

This sounds bad, right? Two of O’Reilly’s former CBS colleagues–Eric Engberg and Charles Krause–have called his Argentina claims “absurd” and “a fabrication.” Corn has written succeeding posts on this subject desperately trying to drum up Williams-level media attention. From fact-checking O’Reilly’s statement on the accusations to sending him questions regarding his war correspondences, Mother Jones seems to be doing in print what MSNBC does on television (for it’s half-dozen viewers) which is keeping progressive America balanced and sated in their own alternate universe

As Joe Concha wrote over at Mediaite, this whole episode seems to be a “hit piece” and an extraneous exercise in semantics:

As few are noting, Mr. Corn worked for Fox News as a contributor from 2001-2008. His career would end abruptly there, as the network decided not to renew his contract (which is a nice way of firing someone). Corn would go on to make an impact in the 2012 presidential election after receiving that infamous tape of Mitt Romney‘s “47 percent” comments. It’s still hilarious to see all the acclaim Corn got for basically signing for a FedEx package and uploading a tape to the Mother Jones website. He even won a Polk Award for the effort, even though it was Jimmy Carter‘s grandson who introduced the guy who actually recorded Romney (Scott Prouty) with Corn. Talk about a silver platter, but that never stops Corn from still mentioning it as if he’s trying to beat some kind of quota when appearing on MSNBC, where he serves as a contributor.

So when we look at why Corn would refute O’Reilly’s account of his time working for CBS in Argentina as a reporter covering the Falklands War in 1982, keep all of that in mind in terms of personal and political motivation.As for finding fault in O’Reilly’s account, this appears to be a case of semantics. Note: O’Reilly never said he was on the Falkland Islands, as the Corn piece claims — he’s been consistent in stating he was always in Argentina (Buenos Aires) at the time.

Late yesterday, O’Reilly’s former CBS colleague Eric Engberg made the claim that O’Reilly might as well been at a spring break destination by saying, “It was not a war zone or even close. It was an ‘expense account zone.’”

Of course, very few are exploring motive here when it comes to Engberg either. For those keeping score at home, this is a very easy dot to connect as to why Engberg — who called O’Reilly a “bloviator” in his opening sentence of his “revelation” — suddenly felt compelled to come forward.

As many of you know, Bernie Goldberg is a Fox News Contributor — primarily dissecting stories focusing on media on The O’Reilly Factor and Kelly File. Goldberg also worked for CBS News as an award-winning reporter for 28 years, where he complained about internal liberal bias to upper management within the organization with no success.

Engberg has complained for years about Goldberg singling him out. So what better way to get back at Goldberg and smear O’Reilly and Fox News in the process by disputing O’Reilly’s claim about a riot that absolutely did happen and was even a lead story at the time on the CBS Evening News?

“General public yawns at the ridiculousness of it all,” wrote Concha, who added that this story will die soon, unlike Williams, from a lack of oxygen.

I think the final nail in the coffin for this story was probably when Corn went on Hugh Hewitt's show, who epically grilled him for 45 minutes before hanging up. The video is below, and the entire transcript of the interview is featured on his website. Hewitt asks questions establishing Corn’s credibility as a journalist, which Corn took personally. In fact, this interview negates one of Concha’s claims that Corn had motive stemming from his firing at Fox; Corn said he was happy to leave as he signed on with MSNBC soon afterwards. Yet, he was so “huffy,” as Hugh noted, that one might think he's not genuine about it.

Regardless, the major point that Hugh makes–after a prolonged discussion about the definition of a war zone–is that Corn is “injuring the standard by which war reporters ought to be judged.” In short, Bill O’Reilly isn’t Brian Williams.

Hugh Hewitt: Dexter Filkins, John Fisher Burns, Jake Tapper, these are genuine war correspondents, and they themselves are very hesitant to describe their experiences being dangerous, because they know they’re not even remotely to the danger that real soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines put them in, that they’re being protected.

David Corn: Of course. You and I agree completely on that.

Hewitt: So if you diminish what Brian Williams did or did not do, and I didn’t comment on it, because I’ve never been in a combat zone. I’m so reluctant to go there. I just think that if you go after O’Reilly for a different agenda, and conflate what he did with Williams, you are injuring the standard by which war reporters ought to be judged, by saying all exaggeration’s alike. That’s my point, David. You think he’s really as bad as Brian Williams?

Now, before people jump on Hewitt and O’Reilly more over this, it should be noted that Hewitt said he didn’t comment on the Williams fiasco because he was never in a war zone. And O’Reilly actually came to the defense of the embattled news anchor on Jimmy Kimmel.

“There’s a lot of people that seem to be real happy that his career has gone down the drain, and that disturbs me,” said O’Reilly.

O’Reilly was also on Hewitt’s show, described his definition of a war/combat zone (there has to be a presence of an organized military force), and found a 33-year memo by CBS Executives in New York that was sent to the Buenos Aires bureau chief stating what a fine job he did down there. NBC Executives reportedly told Williams to stop telling the Chinook story in his public appearances.

Lastly, Don Browne, then-NBC News’ Miami bureau chief at the time of O’Reilly’s assignment in Argentina, pretty much backed up his claims.

No major media outlet has picked up this story; there is some motive behind this story; unlike Williams, someone has come forward to definitively say O’Reilly’s accounts were accurate; and O’Reilly didn’t exaggerate the danger in the way Williams did.

This looks like a big nothing-burger, but one that could serve as a useful example of liberal media bias.