Archive for May, 2013
May 31st, 2013 at 6:57 pm
DOJ Defends AG Holder, Says No Perjury Committed

Officials at the Department of Justice say boss Attorney General Eric Holder did not commit perjury when he lied to Congress under oath.

Okay, that’s a little unfair (but only a little).

Here’s the way CNN phrases it: “Attorney General Eric Holder’s sworn testimony before lawmakers this month was ‘accurate and consistent with the facts,’ a Justice Department spokesman stressed late Thursday.”

Apparently, those facts are these: Since Holder and DOJ are not intending to prosecute Fox News reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator in a national security leak investigation, Holder was telling the truth when he said under oath that prosecuting journalists “is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”

But as I said yesterday knocking down a similar argument, that’s fallacious. There is zero chance a federal judge would have approved of the Rosen search warrant had investigators not labeled him a co-conspirator, implying that he too would be prosecuted.

Wrong too is any idea that anyone in the Justice Department is going to say or do anything to question their boss’s fitness for office.

That job belongs to Congress. And, if the evidence they uncover convinces a majority that Holder is unfit to be Attorney General, they should impeach him.

May 31st, 2013 at 6:06 pm
Cal ObamaCare Exchange WILL Increase Insurance Rates

Despite initial reports that California’s ObamaCare health insurance exchange will offer plans that are cheaper than currently available, a closer look at the data shows that the state specializing in concocting fake budgets also lied about the supposed cost savings.

Initially, Covered California, the state’s ObamaCare-ready exchange, announced that insurance rates would drop up to “29 percent below the 2013 average,” prompting many of the health law’s defenders to claim victory over critics who estimate double-digit increases.

But the bloom fell off the rose fast. In order to make the new prices look as favorable as possible, Covered California didn’t compare current individual insurance rates to future individual rates. Instead, it compared current small business rates to future individual rates, and reported the “savings” of 29 percent.

Many conservative analysts caught the switch, and deconstructed the ploy. Avik Roy compared current individual rates in California to future individual rates under ObamaCare and surprise, surprise, confirmed that rates will increase between 64 – 146 percent.

Of course, much of the damage from the false information has already been done. I was in a meeting hours after the rates were announced and was greeted by a liberal friend smiling and saying something along the lines of, “Well, how about that; it looks like ObamaCare is better than your side thought all along. Have you seen the California numbers yet?”

At the time I’d only heard the summaries, none of which drew attention to the obvious apples-and-oranges comparison by Covered California. A week later, none of the liberal cheerleaders for the California miracle are going out of their way to correct the record.

At least now we know the truth. Too bad the left and their friends in the media don’t seem to be interested.

May 31st, 2013 at 11:45 am
This Week’s Liberty Update
Posted by Print

Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Ellis:  Congress Has the Right – Perhaps the Duty – To Impeach Eric Holder
Lee:  When Even Barney Frank Sings the Praises of Free Markets, We Must Listen

Video:  Another Bit At the Apple
Podcast:  In Defense of Capitalism
Jester’s Courtroom:  Playing with Fire

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

May 31st, 2013 at 10:51 am
Video: Another Bit At the Apple
Posted by Print

In this week’s “Freedom Minute,” CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses how, in the midst of scandals surrounding Benghazi, the IRS and DOJ conducting surveillance on the media, Congress recently decided to scrutinize an iconic American company “for failing to pay taxes that it didn’t owe.”

Giachino points to this latest lunacy as further evidence supporting the need for corporate tax reform that includes lower rates to bring more business back to the United States, create more jobs and generate more revenue for the treasury.


May 30th, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Carney Can’t Save Holder’s Misleading Testimony to Congress

Yesterday a reporter read Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent congressional testimony to White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Responding to a question last week about prosecuting journalists as co-conspirators under the Espionage Act of 1917, Holder told a House committee: “In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material – this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”

Unfortunately, it came to light soon after that Holder was, in fact, involved in potentially prosecuting a journalist for espionage – James Rosen of Fox News, three years before he made the statement above to Congress.

And yet, in full spin mode and with a straight face, Carney said, “Clearly what the attorney general said is accurate.”

The Hill summarizes Carney’s position as, “media reports indicate that no prosecution of Rosen is being contemplated, and that therefore Holder’s statement regarding potential prosecution is correct.”

But Carney’s characterization changes the timeline. Holder said it’s “not something I’ve ever been involved in,” meaning Holder was never involved in potentially prosecuting a journalist. That’s clearly false. What Carney is trying to do by stressing the current reality that no prosecution is pending is to make it seem like Holder’s failure to prosecute now renders his previous support irrelevant.

Nice try, Jay, but it won’t fly with Congress or the American people.

As I wrote in my column this week, if Holder can’t be trusted to tell the truth under oath – and his track record proves he can’t – then he is unfit for the office he holds. If he won’t step down voluntarily, then Congress will be under the duty to investigate and, if necessary, impeach.

May 30th, 2013 at 3:48 pm
Podcast: In Defense of Capitalism
Posted by Print

In an interview with CFIF, Roger Ream, President of The Fund for American Studies (TFAS), and Michael Cox, Sr. Fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and Director of the O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, discuss TFAS’s online videos: “It’s a Wonderful Life (with Capitalism)” and “How Nations Succeed: What’s the Secret to Ending Poverty.” Ream and Cox also discuss what young people are learning in college about freedom and free markets, and what accounts for America’s tremendous progress over the last 100 years.

Listen to the interview here.

May 30th, 2013 at 2:29 pm
Press Boycotts Holder’s Off the Record Discussion of First Amendment

It looks like there’s at least one crack emerging in the mainstream media’s impenetrable defense of the Obama administration.

The heads of the Associated Press, New York Times, Huffington Post and CNN will not attend an off-the-record meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss new guidelines for conducting leak investigations involving journalists, reports CNN’s Political Ticker.

Their absence will deprive Holder of a much needed credibility boost as he tries to rehabilitate his standing among the media’s power brokers.

The Attorney General is already reeling from two trust-destroying revelations. First, that he stepped aside to allow subordinates at the Department of Justice to go on a fishing expedition by subpoenaing “thousands and thousands” of phone calls from the AP in an unprecedented attempt to identify the source of a leak. Second, that he personally signed off on a search warrant of James Rosen that called the Fox News reporter a “co-conspirator” for gathering information.

Now, with these pillars of the liberal media establishment boycotting Holder’s secret confab, it looks like the AG needs to do the one thing he hates most: Speak candidly in public.

May 30th, 2013 at 10:34 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Holder Investigation
Posted by Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez. 

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

May 28th, 2013 at 6:00 pm
Senate Republicans Petition Supreme Court to Smack Down Obama’s NLRB Appointments

It looks like there could be a Supreme Court showdown over whether President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he appointed members to the National Labor Relations Board back in January.

All 45 Senate Republicans have filed a friend of the court brief asking the justices to uphold the D.C. and Second Court’s rulings that the president did just that. The Obama administration, of course, disagrees and wants to high court to reverse.

The constitutional question to be answered is whether the Senate or the President gets to decide when the former is in recess, and thus when the President can make recess appointments to bypass the Constitution’s advice and consent requirement.

Important? You betcha.

As the NLRB case shows, if the President gets to decide when the Senate is in recess then the advice and consent requirement becomes effectively a voluntary procedural hoop that the President can choose to ignore whenever a nominee can’t get the necessary votes for confirmation. Such a development would effectively nullify the Senate’s only real quality control measure in staffing the executive branch.

There’s also an added bonus. If the Court accepts the case, it will be one of the few decisions that deal with actual constitutional text, instead of the “penumbras” and other implied meanings that the justices have imported over the years.

Then again, that may be why this case gets snubbed.

H/T: Politico

May 28th, 2013 at 10:42 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Fetch
Posted by Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez. 

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

May 25th, 2013 at 4:21 pm
Unions Now Hit with ObamaCare’s Glitches and Gaps

Up to 20 million union members and their families will be ineligible for ObamaCare subsidies to help pay for their Cadillac-style health insurance plans, says CBS News.

Instead, members of unions for part-time and seasonal workers and their dependents will likely have to choose between higher premiums to stay on their plans – whose cost will rise because of the health law’s new coverage mandates – or cheaper plans that cover less – but are subsidized – on the state-based ObamaCare exchanges.

The reason for the choice is because ObamaCare only gives subsidies to people who are not covered by their employer. If union members opt to stay with the plans jointly administered by their union and their employer, then they, in effect, are choosing higher premiums.

Of course, opting out of the union’s negotiated health benefits makes union membership itself a much less attractive prospect, causing union leaders to fear that a mass exodus by members to qualify for ObamaCare subsidies will have the effect of shrinking union enrollment.

For its part, the Obama administration is refusing to carve out any exceptions for the affected unions, prompting at least one union official to say, “In the rush to achieve its passage, many of the act’s provisions were not fully conceived, resulting in unintended consequences that are inconsistent with the promise that those who were satisfied with their employer-sponsored coverage could keep it.”

Welcome to the club.

May 25th, 2013 at 2:20 pm
IRS Gave Obama Charity Fast-Track Approval while Tea Party Groups Harassed

What’s in a name?

If you’re Lois Lerner, an IRS division head in charge of approving groups for non-profit status, seemingly everything.

By now, just about everyone in America knows that the IRS division tasked with scrutinizing non-profit applications deliberately and consistently targeted groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their name.

No similar litmus test was used for liberal or progressive groups, indicating a clear and convincing bias by the government against ideological opponents of the White House.

In fact, in at least one case, it looks like the very same IRS agents who persecuted conservative groups fast-tracked approval for an outfit whose name practically screamed for – and received – special treatment.

The name of the organization: The Barack H. Obama Foundation (BHOF). Though not formally affiliated with President Obama, the group is headed by one of his half-brothers, Abon’go Malik Obama, and named for their mutual father.

Organized in 2008, “BHOF operated illegally as a non-profit group and falsely claimed tax-exempt status – for which it had not yet formally applied,” according to research released by Discover the Networks, an online database that keeps track of the connections between leftwing groups and activists.

But once BHOF did get around to applying for tax-exempt status, the IRS’ penchant for favoritism really showed itself. Per Discover the Networks, “The foundation finally submitted its 2010 application for non-profit, tax-exempt status on May 23, 2011; seven days later, it submitted its filings for 2008 and 2009. Within just one month of these filings – on June 26, 2011 – Lois Lerner, the senior official who headed the IRS’s tax-exempt organizations office, signed paperwork granting tax-exempt status to BHOF.”

Here’s the best part. Apparently, “Lerner broke with the norms of tax-exemption approval making BHOF’s tax-exempt status retroactive to December 2008.”

Maybe the next time Lois Lerner appears before the House Oversight Committee the members will ask her to explain how, with the Tea Party and BHOF examples in mind, they can draw any other conclusion about her stewardship at the IRS than that it has been characterized by the most obvious case of unethical – and potentially illegal – partisan bias.

May 24th, 2013 at 2:58 pm
Quin Hillyer Laying Down His Pen

Quin Hillyer, a superb writer and great friend who has served as a Senior Fellow for CFIF for the past two-plus years, is laying down his pen to run for U.S. Congress in Alabama. 

Hillyer made his intentions known yesterday to run for the seat being vacated by six-term Congressman Jo Bonner (R-AL), who announced earlier in the day that he will be leaving Congress in August to take a job with the University of Alabama.

Quin’s unwavering passion for the cause of liberty and conservative, limited government principles will be missed by all at CFIF.

Quin, we wish you all the best on your next “adventure!”

May 24th, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Insurance Companies Solicited by Sebelius Now Questioned by Congress

The Hill reports that the plot is thickening as key members of Congress ask 15 insurance companies to turn over any records related to potentially illegal fundraising to support ObamaCare by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The request went to industry giants Aetna, Blue Shield of California, Cigna, Coventry Health Care, H&R Block, HCSC Group, Highmark, Humana, Independence Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente, United Healthcare, WellPoint, America’s Health Insurance Plans, BlueCross BlueShield Association, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

The controversy first surfaced when the Washington Post confirmed that HHS Secretary Sebelius is personally contacting private members of the health care industry – including insurance providers – to ask that they donate six- to seven-figure sums to Enroll America, a pro-ObamaCare non-profit advocacy group running a national summer and fall ad campaign to promote enrollment in state-based insurance exchanges.

H&R Block, one of the companies contacted by both Sebelius and Congress, has already committed to donating $500,000 to fund Enroll America’s efforts, according to the New York Times.

With its records request, you can bet that Congress wants to know what exactly was said/indicated/promised in the Sebelius-H&R Block conversation, as well as any other communications between top health insurance companies and their chief regulator.

If those requests aren’t honored voluntarily, expect to see subpoenas follow very quickly.

May 24th, 2013 at 8:53 am
Podcast: Federal Lawsuit Against the IRS
Posted by Print

In an interview with CFIF, David French, Senior Counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), discusses the upcoming federal lawsuit on behalf of ACLJ’s clients that were targeted by the IRS, why he believes an independent counsel needs to be appointed to investigate, and why it raises fear about the agency’s role in enforcing ObamaCare.

Listen to the interview here.

May 22nd, 2013 at 7:57 pm
Ashton Right, Mukasey Off (Slightly)

I agree with Ashton that it is a bad idea — an awful idea — to have the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division investigate the IRS scandal. I also agree with Ashton that in the short run, the best thing of all is to keep letting Congress (and the press) investigate this outrage, and let the body politic be the judge. In fact, that’s what Andy McCarthy argues today at National Review Online, with superb reasoning:

The Framers would have been astounded at the notion that Congress’s responsibility to ensure the proper working of government could be delegated to an unaccountable prosecutor. The paramount question is whether the government is out of control, not whether some mid-level official (or even a higher official) can be convicted by a jury.

Indeed, I think there is some agreement between Mukasey and McCarthy: Mukasey’s main point was not about who would conduct the criminal prosecution, but that a “special counsel” would be a bad idea. I agree. Only if it is later decided to open a criminal investigation, says Mukasey, should it then be determined who best to conduct such an investigation. But as McCarthy writes, a criminal investigation makes it easier to keep things secret from the public. That’s the opposite of what good citizens should want right now.

As Ashton says (which makes it unanimous!), “Best for the House to continue exercising its oversight responsibilities until they find some smoking guns.” Or, I would add, until a situation that might develop where smoking guns seem likely to be found, but only a criminal investigation could show exactly where the smoke is coming from. (I hope that metaphor works.)

So, to review: Congress and the press, only, for the time being. A “special prosecutor,” probably never. On that, we all agree. The only place Mukasey goes afield is in who should conduct a criminal investigation if one finally is required. The Civil Rights Division? As Ashton says, perish the thought.

May 22nd, 2013 at 7:25 pm
Bush AG Mukasey: DOJ Could ‘Redeem’ Itself with IRS Investigation

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey says appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal would be a bad idea because the investigator would still report to the President.

Better, Mukasey said, for congressional investigations to continue, with a potentially ironic assist from one of the most corrupt divisions in the Department of Justice.

“Ironically, if you decide to have a criminal investigation, I would think that perhaps the proper entity to investigate is the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, which has been charged politicizing the way it enforces the law and would have an excellent opportunity to redeem itself and get out from under those charges if it were to conduct an impartial investigation,” Mukasey added.

Though I’m a big fan of Mukasey, particularly his tenure as AG, I just don’t see how the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division gets near this case. In order to prove Mukasey right, the Division would have to conclude in its investigation that major wrongdoing occurred, recommending resignations, fines or criminal charges. Anything less and the Division will be accused of rolling out a whitewash to cover for the Obama administration.

This doesn’t even mention the fact that the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, as the Mukasey quote alludes to and our own Quin Hillyer has argued, is a breeding ground for corrupt applications of the law. How these legal weasels can be trusted with playing such a sensitive investigation straight is beyond me.

No, the closest we’ll get to an independent arbiter on any of the Obama scandals will be the federal judiciary, and even then there’s no guarantee. Best for the House to continue exercising its oversight responsibilities until they find some smoking guns.

H/T: The Daily Caller

May 22nd, 2013 at 12:13 pm
Christian Adams Last Night in Mobile

Last night, I had the pleasure of introducing former Justice Department whistleblower J. Christian Adams at his speech to the Mobile chapter of the Federalist Society. Ace reporter Brendan Kirby of the Mobile Press-Register wrote about the event here.

Adams was superb. It is well worth reading his book, Injustice, about the corruption at the Obama/Holder Justice Department.

In my introduction, by the way, I told the story about the first time I tried to talk to Adams, while he was still at DoJ:

You should know, though, that the first time I ever spoke to Christian, he said he couldn’t talk to me and sent me to a Justice Department press flack named Schmaler, who proceeded to yell and curse at me like a Greek fury before I ever had two very polite sentences out of my mouth.

Tracy Schmaler would later go on to be identified in numerous news accounts as almost habitually yelling at other reporters as well. And now, as of a couple of days ago, she is in the news again:

In addition to Burke’s involvement in leaking the document, emails the IG uncovered show senior officials at the Department of Justice discussed smearing Dodson.

One of those was Tracy Schmaler, the Director of the Department’s Office of Public Affairs, who resigned her position at the DOJ after emails uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request showed that she worked with leftwing advocacy group Media Matters for America to smear whistleblowers and members of Congress and the media who sought to investigate DOJ scandals under Attorney General Eric Holder.

To complete the circle, this is not the first time Schmaler — who now works for Obama hardball political maestro David Axelrod — has been shown to have been part of a smear campaign. She earlier had been found, via e-mails, to have smeared Justice Department attorneys while they still worked for the department. One of those attorneys: J. Christian Adams.

May 22nd, 2013 at 11:17 am
Benghazi, in Short Form and in Long

The Heritage Foundation has a strong 2-minute video about the Benghazi affair, well worth watching. And I have a 2,000-word piece that explains, in detail, why it really is a scandal, and why the media is, as usual, focusing on the wrong things. An excerpt:

In both Fast and Furious and in Benghazi, the result of the administration’s incompetence (or worse) was that people died. (Lots of people.) When an administration tries to cover up the real reasons people died, that alone usually makes it a scandal by the usual Washington Post/establishment media standards. When the administration threatens or punishes those who try to correct the record, it’s more than a scandal; it’s almost always criminal.

What the Post calls conservatives “obsess[ing]” over Benghazi is actually, by all prior standards, an eminently reasonable insistence that corruption be outed and reversed. The State Department’s mendacious, 12-step emasculation of the Benghazi talking points, for political purposes related to maintaining an already ongoing lie about an Internet video, is just one part of a long series of Libya-related actions that together amount to a serious corruption of our political system.

If there was nothing to hide, why was Mr. Hicks so maltreated?

May 21st, 2013 at 6:54 pm
Another ObamaCare Gap in Coverage Exposes Tangled Safety Net

How big is a “gap” in coverage when it affects 840,000 people?

The Los Angeles Times says that California is racing to pass a “bridge” program into law that helps individuals and families likely to be caught between qualifying for Medi-Cal (the state’s version of Medicaid), and ObamaCare’s new state-based health insurance exchange.

In California, residents earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or about $15,000 a year, will be eligible for Medi-Cal next year. Individuals earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level, or about $46,000, will be eligible for subsidies through the exchange, known as Covered California.

The Covered California board approved a plan in March to help patients expected to jump between the two. The “bridge plan” would enable patients now on Medi-Cal managed care whose incomes rise to continue to stay with their health plan once they move to the exchange.

The program, which still needs federal approval and state legislation to take effect, could serve as many as 840,000 people next year. The plan should streamline the process, keep out-of-pocket premiums low and make it easier for people to keep their providers, said David Panush, external affairs director with Covered California. “It is better for their quality of care, it is better for continuity of care,” he said.

While it’s refreshing to see California taking steps to protect people from being penalized for working more, what the article doesn’t mention is how related government policies are putting the squeeze on the state’s working poor.

California’s anti-business climate – coupled with ObamaCare’s perverse incentive structure that makes it more affordable for businesses to cut hours rather than pay hefty premium increases for employee’s health insurance – are underreported tax increases on the working poor.

By diminishing the number and quality of jobs available to people at the bottom of the employment ladder, certain public policies make it exceedingly difficult for people to work their up into a better standard of living.

Because of this, one way to think of the constant tinkering and enlargement of public benefits is as a way to compensate the working poor for taking away their access to an abundance of jobs where they can get the experience and skills needed to move upward an onward.

Under the current regime, a “bridge” program between Medi-Cal and Covered California is the least state policymakers can do. Still, those entangled in the state’s safety net deserve better.