Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review plow through the snow to enjoy the possibility of Michael Bloomberg launching an independent White House bid. They also shudder as the FBI probes Hillary Clinton and her State Department subordinates for taking highly classified information and pasting it into emails on Clinton’s non-secure server. And they react to Donald Trump saying he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and he wouldn’t lose any supporters.
Archives for January 2016
It’s well known that man Republicans in Washington do not like Sen. Ted Cruz, but the full extent of that antipathy is coming to light this week as several current and former lawmakers say they prefer Donald Trump as the GOP nominee, although they have little regard for either man.
Some GOP consultants and strategists started the rumblings in recent days. Then Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told Republicans in his state to oppose Cruz because of the senator’s opposition to ethanol subsidies.
But the story broke wide open on Wednesday when former Senate Majority Leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole said he would choose Trump over Cruz, going so far as to say a Cruz nomination would be “cataclysmic” for the Republican Party. Another former GOP Senate leader, Trent Lott, has said the same.
But Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tex., a Cruz supporter, is not swayed. While honoring Dole for his heroism in World War II, Gohmert says many mainstream Republicans are worried about what a President Cruz would mean for them.
“You don’t get any more establishment than Bob Dole and Trent Lott,” said Gohmert. “So they’re going to be an indication of where the establishment will go. They have more belief that Trump will make deals with them and that Ted Cruz will continue to stand on principle as he has been.”
Current officeholders are joining the chorus, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Dan Coats, R-Ind.
“An awful lot of us really didn’t like to be targeted as corrupt, establishment bought by the lobby establishment,” Coats added. “It sure looks like someone was using it as a way to gain notoriety as the only true conservative in Washington,” Coats told CNN.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., went a step further, reportedly telling donors that he would vote for Bernie Sanders before he’d back Cruz. Burr later asked for a retraction, but the Associated Press is standing by the story.
Gohmert believes the venom in the GOP is a result of Ted Cruz doing something most other politicians don’t.
“If you’re a person that’s interested in lying or you’re interested in twisting the truth or you’re interested in breaking your promises that you made to get elected, then you’re not going to care for Ted Cruz,” said Gohmert.
But the congressman also says the notion that Capitol Hill is a wasteland of Cruz supporters is dead wrong.
“Ted Cruz has got a bunch of members of Congress, solid conservatives, a whole bunch of them that have come out and endorsed Ted. I’m not aware of anybody in the House that has endorsed Trump,” said Gohmert.
Gohmert says moderate Republicans and the mainstream media are aligning with Trump based on a major assumption.
“They think he’ll be more of a deal maker. They’re probably figuring, ‘You know, Trump is a winner. He says what he has to to win. He’ll say what he has to to win the Republican primary.’ And so they’re probably thinking, ‘So then he’ll go back and agree with Democrats to say what he needs to to win the general election,'” said Gohmert.
Gohmert says the Republicans are doomed in that scenario.
“If that were to happen, as has happened before, then so many in the base of the Republicans would have nowhere else to go but third party. That assures the Democrat wins,” said Gohmert.
But can Cruz work with people in Congress? Gohmert says yes.
“He can compromise. He has compromised on issues but when it comes to matters of principle, you shouldn’t be compromising on matters of principle and he doesn’t,” said Gohmert.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Ian Tuttle of National Review discuss National Review devoting an entire issue and calling on 20 different conservatives in an effort to convince voters to reject Donald Trump. They also salute the hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists descending on snowy Washington for the annual March for Life. And they slam Secretary of State John Kerry for casually conceding that Iran will spend some of his billions in unfrozen assets on terrorism.
While most people in Washington will spend Friday hunkering down for the east coast blizzard, hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists will take part in the annual March for Life, calling for respect for both women and babies and vowing to stop Hillary Clinton from becoming the next president.
The March for Life marks 43 years since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions that legalized abortion in the United States. Estimates show 58 million unborn children have been killed by abortion since that day.
With this year’s march coming in a presidential election year, pro-life groups say defeating Clinton is at the very top of this year’s agenda. Not only do they want a pro-life president but they say Clinton is promising to be even more aggressive as a pro-choice president. That’s because after being endorsed by Planned Parenthood, Clinton vowed to take aim at a pro-life law on the book since the 1970’s.
“She said she would move to end the Hyde Amendment, which is longstanding bipartisan legislation that stops our taxpayer dollars from going to pay for abortion on demand,” said Susan B. Anthony List Communications Director Mallory Quigley. “This is really quite a radical move. She’s moving to the left even of President Obama on this.”
While Quigley is horrified at the idea of Clinton taking aim at the Hyde Amendment, she thinks it could be a political advantage for the pro-life side.
“If she wants to use her presidential campaign to go to war with these common ground policies like Hyde, that’s really at her own risk. We’re confident that voters are going to reject that level of abortion extremism at the ballot box,” said Quigley.
She says recent poll numbers bear that out.
“A majority of Americans support the legislative initiatives that the pro-life movement is pushing, including keeping taxpayer dollars out of the abortion business, protecting babies and moms at five months, right to know legislation for women so that they understand the health risks of abortion,” said Quigley.
“The groundswell of support that we’re seeing for out legislative initiatives really don’t bode well for any candidate that’s going to be vocally pro-abortion and sees that as a key to winning their campaign,” said Quigley.
The March for Life itself stands as a strong contrast to the message Clinton has been espousing on abortion. The theme this year is “Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Go Hand in Hand.”
“That is highlighting an element of the pro-life movement that has always been there and that’s the acknowledgement that women and children are inextricably linked and that abortion harms them both. To solve this problem of abortion in our country, it needs to start with loving both the mother and the child,” said Quigley.
She says it’s a direct refutation of the pro-choice argument that to be pro-woman requires embracing abortion rights.
“This is a mistake that the other side makes thinking that in order to build up the rights of women, you need to accept a violent act like abortion and you need to pit women against their children. This is really a false choice,” said Quigley.
To illustrate the point, the march will mention the women’s suffrage movement and link it to the efforts of pro-life women today.
The march goes from the White House to the Supreme Court. One of the most emotional moments each year is when women who have had abortions stand up in front of the court and discuss the pain and regret they feel even years later.
“When you hear those women and the suffering they have gone through, and the firm desire that they have that they had chosen life instead of abortion. It really changes your perspective,” said Quigley.
Quigley says 2015 was a year of progress for pro-lifers, getting further than ever before on an abortion ban after 20 weeks and getting a bill to President Obama’s desk that would have defunded Planned Parenthood. The 20-week ban died in the Senate and Obama vetoed the defunding effort, but Quigley says the template is there for major success if 2016 turns out the way she hopes.
“That was a huge breakthrough in terms of creating a pathway to when we have a pro-life president, hopefully in January 2017. Top of mind for 2016, of course, is electing a pro-life president,” said Quigley.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review love watching the Democrats quickly abandon their insistence on no more debates and hastily add one on Monday to help a stumbling Hillary Clinton. They also roll their eyes as Bob Dole says he’d prefer Trump over Cruz. And they separate fact from fiction and spread the blame over the Flint water crisis.
When the story of the 2016 Republican presidential race is written, January 19 might emerge as a critical turning point, as two major moments triggered seismic shifts in the campaign and the state of conservatism and the GOP itsel.
Those moments occured with hours of one another as tea party favorite Sarah Palin endorsed the White House bid of Donald Trump and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told Republicans not to support Ted Cruz because of his opposition to ethanol subsidies.
They are also moments that longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie believes help to crystallize the differences between Trump and Cruz.
Viguerie gained fame in the 1960’s as the first man to use direct mail in political campaigning. He is now chairman of conservativehq.com and the author of “Takedown: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It.” He recently endorsed Cruz for the Republican nomination.
The first critical moment Tuesday came when Gov. Branstad told reporters in Iowa that Republicans in his state should reject Cruz over his stand on renewable fuels.
“He is the biggest opponent of renewable fuels and he actually introduced a bill in 2013 to immediately eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard. He is heavily financed by big oil,” said Branstad.
“We think once Iowans realize that fact, they might find other things about him attractive but I think it would be very damaging to our state,” added Branstad. “He hasn’t supported renewable fuels and I believe that would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him.”
Viguerie says Branstad, in addition to touting big government, was deliberately disingenuous. He says this issue is anything but a reason for voters to punish Cruz.
“I think the person who should be punished is Gov. Terry Branstad. He’s the one who just lied. He said that Ted Cruz opposes renewable fuel. No. He does not oppose renewable fuels. He opposes subsidized, taxpayer-subsidized renewable fuel. Big, big difference and he knows that. He just flat out lied,” said Viguerie.
In fact, Viguerie applauds Cruz for not groveling to Iowa voters over ethanol.
“This is just an example of how Ted Cruz is the limited government, constitutional, principled conservative in the race, the only one at a top tier level,” said Viguerie.
So Viguerie was less than enthused to see tea party favorite and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin endorse Trump on Tuesday.
“I’m sorry to see it. I think it’s a big mistake. I think it will have limited value,” said Viguerie.
Why is it a mistake?
After taking a hands-off approach to Trump for months, Viguerie says he now sees Trump acting more like a typical politician, even vowing to increase ethanol subsidies if elected. But there’s something even more fundamental at work.
“He is in no way a conservative. He’s got a lifetime record, 40 years plus of being a political liberal person,” said Viguerie.
He says Trump’s record of supporting eminent domain against private property owners, backing abortion at all stages of development, endorsing same-sex marriage and donating to many prominent liberal politicians proves he’s no tried and tested conservative.
Viguerie also says voters should not be swayed just because the GOP figures who frustrate them are also critical of Trump.
“Your enemy’s enemy is not necessarily your friend. Because the establishment in this country is so opposed to Donald Trump does not mean that he’s our friend. He has a 40-year record of espousing big government solutions to the problems,” said Viguerie.
He also says the most important ingredient in a Republican win come November is party unity. Viguerie says Trump’s record of being socially liberal means he cannot bring the GOP together and he will face the same results as Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney.
Curiously, Viguerie believes Cruz is the only Republican candidate capable of uniting the party. That assessment is likely to cause many Republicans to spit out their coffee. After all, Cruz is detested by GOP leaders for repeatedly and publicly defying them. Nearly all of his Senate colleagues have endorsed someone else.
So how does Cruz ever emerge as a unifying figure? Viguerie says Cruz fits five of the six requirements to unite the party, such as being conservative on economics, social issues and national security. He also believes Cruz would be appealing to tea party members and libertarians. That leaves the moderates.
“Since Cruz checks all five of those first boxes, with his vice presidential choice he can bring the establishment moderate Republicans and have a united ticket. With his vice presidential choice and other appointments, he has an opportunity to unite the party in a way that no other candidate does,” said Viguerie.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are amused to see the Clinton campaign accusing Republicans and the intelligence community inspector general of conspiring to accuse Hillary Clinton of having beyond top secret emails on her server. They also blast Republicans for attacking Ted Cruz for his opposition to crony capitalism in ethanol and they discuss why tea party darling Sarah Palin would endorse Donald Trump. They react to news that a Fast and Furious gun capable of downing helicopters was found with El Chapo. And they mourn the death of Ben Carson staffer Braden Joplin.
On Sunday, Hillary Clinton said there should be “no individual too powerful to jail” and the author of the explosive book alleging Clinton used the State Department for favors to Clinton Foundation donors says that rule should apply to the Democratic front-runner as well.
“Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer says the Clintons are also still profiting off the pardon of Marc Rich, one of the ugliest – and last – acts of President Bill Clinton in 2001.
In a debate hosted by NBC and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, the Democratic White House hopefuls were asked about their differences in reforming Wall Street. Sec. Clinton scolded Sen. Bernie Sanders for being critical of her and President Obama for accepting campaign donations from Wall Street, but he also highlighted where their positions are similar.
“There is no daylight on the basic premise that there should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too powerful to jail. We agree on that,” said Clinton.
Clinton is under FBI investigation for conducting all of her State Department business through a home server and possibly breaking the law for how she handled classified and top secret information. Last week, reports revealed that the FBI expanded its probe of Clinton into whether she used the State Department to reward donors to the Clinton Foundation.
Schweizer says as long as everyone seems interested in punishing corruption in the markets, in politics and elsewhere, Clinton ought to be closely investigated as well.
“If you look at recent prosecutions for political corruption, whether that’s Gov. (Bob) McDonnell in Virginia, whether that’s Sen. (Rober) Menendez in New Jersey or a former governor down in Alabama, people have been prosecuted on far less developed patterns of taking payments and doing favors than in the case of Hillary Clinton,” said Schweizer.
While Schweizer’s book contends there is a pattern of corruption from Hillary Clinton at the State Department, he says the Clintons were clever in how they constructed their charitable organization.
“They basically circumvented laws that say you can’t take money from foreigners in a way that will influence a political campaign. So they take it instead as speaking fees and as donations to the Clinton Foundation,” said Schweizer.
But he says they still have huge legal problems.
“The international anti-bribery standards, which Hillary Clinton endorsed as secretary of state says that bribery can include donations going to a charity run by a politician. So the fact the Clinton Foundation does charitable work really does not let them off the hook,” said Schweizer.
So what will come of the FBI investigation?
“We want to believe and think that decisions to prosecute for criminal conduct are just going to be based on the facts and there’s not going to be a political component to it, but I think very few of us are naive enough to think that’s the way the world actually works,” said Schweizer.
“I would say the odds of a criminal referral from the FBI are fairly high but I think the Department of Justice actually acting on that I would say is fairly low,” said Schweizer.
He also believes if there are any charges they will be minor ones related to the server and classified information and Clinton will face no charges on corruption. The probe into classified information got another jolt on Tuesday when a letter from the inspector general for the intelligence community was released that showed even more highly sensitive material was discovered on Clinton’s unsecure server.
But Schweizer says there is much more on the corruption front as well. A case in point he says, is the ongoing windfall the Clinton Foundation appears to be getting 15 years after Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich. Schweizer detailed the money chain recently in the New York Post.
The pardon came on January 20, 2001, Clinton’s final day in office.
“Marc Rich was an international fugitive. He was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. He made a lot of money by trading with rogue regimes like the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, apartheid South Africa, North Korea. He basically acted as an oil middle man for these roguish governments,” explained Schweizer.
At the time, even many liberal voices like the New York Times and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., slammed Clinton for the pardon. Clinton himself later said it was one of his biggest political mistakes. But Schweizer says the shady details didn’t end in 2001.
“A lot of people were shocked and then when they found out Denise Rich, Marc Rich’s ex-wife, had donated $450,000 to the Clinton Foundation and another million to the Democratic Party right before that pardon took place, people immediately drew those connections. I think those connections are real but that’s not the end of the story,” said Schweizer.
Namely that the pardon is still paying dividends.
“If you look at some of the biggest donors to the Clinton Foundation, you will find that these are individuals who were longtime business partners with Marc Rich, that they were his personal attorneys, that they were his media people. There’s a collection of individuals that have poured tens of millions of dollars into the Clinton Foundation that are directly tied to Marc Rich,” said Schweizer.
It will ultimately be into the billions because Schweizer says Gilbert Chagoury has promised to donate a billion dollars by himself to the Clinton Foundation. He says Rich and Chagoury smuggled oil out of Nigeria and sold it on the black market.
But the real total of Rich-related donations remains a mystery.
“The Clinton Foundation, contrary to their promises, has actually not even disclosed all of its contributors. We know there are at least a thousand, based on some of their fundraisers, that were never disclosed and those donors were people that were precisely in Marc Rich’s industry,” said Schweizer.
Rich died in 2013 and the pardon was 15 years ago, but Schweizer says if the money coming in is directly the result of that action, a crime is still being committed. He says McDonnell was convicted and Menendez charged with corruption based on much more speculation than is taking place with the Clintons.
“It behooves us, I think, to get an explanation from prosecutors as to why these individuals get prosecuted but the Clintons don’t,” said Schweizer.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review react to the Defense Department considering demoting David Petraeus for his mishandling of classified information and the message this sends to those investigating Hillary Clinton. They also slam Marco Rubio for continuing to say he thinks all illegal immigrants who are not felons should be able to stay in the U.S. once they’ve been here a certain time. And they discuss the uproar over an alleged lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations.
The author of a controversial book debunking common beliefs about Thomas Jefferson says the man constantly cited for erecting a wall separating church and state would be appalled at the restricting of religious expression done in his name by American courts.
Wallbuilders Founder and President David Barton says getting Jefferson wrong on religious liberty and other issues has a profound impact on our nation and he contends that his critics are trying to undermine his work in order to facilitate the secularizing of our society.
Barton is author of “The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson,” which is now available in paperback.
While Jefferson is best known for serving as principal author of the Declaration of Independence and as our third president, he was a passionate defender of religious liberty. Barton says Jefferson would not recognize the current government efforts to stifle speech critical of alternative lifestyles or punish business owners for refusing to participate in same-sex weddings.
“Where we are today, Jefferson would be the first guy popping up on the other side saying what we are doing is wrong,” said Barton, who says the record is clear.
“He is so clear that the number one unalienable right government is to protect is the right of conscience. That is something he repeats over and over. He said it’s inconsistent with our constitutional laws to force tender consciences,” said Barton.
Barton uses the case of the Quakers as an example. Even after the Quakers opposed the revolution, Jefferson insisted on their right of conscience to be protected.
Social liberals often cite Jefferson for trying to remove religious expression from the public square, but Barton says the reins Jefferson wanted on the state were focused in a different direction.
“What we’ve had in Europe and Great Britain is a state-established denomination that tells what we have to be and it persecuted everyone that doesn’t agree and believe with the state. In those situations, you had no religious toleration, you had no freedom of conscience and you did have coercion,” said Barton.
Jefferson’s own experience with state established religion led to his authoring of the groundbreaking Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.
“Virginia has one state-established denomination, the Anglican denomination. He watched his friends who were Presbyterians and Quakers and Baptists and Methodists get fined and thrown in jail, beat and sometimes killed because the state-established denomination told them what they had to believe and how they had to practice their faith,” said Barton.
“The statute disestablishes the Anglican Church and puts everybody on equal footing,” said Barton.
That history runs contrary to the conventional wisdom that Jefferson is the inspiration for the “wall of separation of church and state” in his letter to baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, in 1802.
But Barton says liberal historians and and judges have blatantly miscontrued Jefferson’s message.
“That means the government is never going to get involved in stopping religious activities or beliefs,” said Barton. “Prior to 1947, the Supreme Court would quote all of that letter or large segments of it. After 1947, they’ve never quoted more than eight words out of that letter.”
He says the stunning history of court decisions involving Jefferson’s letter doesn’t stop there.
“Since , there have been 4,000 cases go to the courts on first amendment religious expression. All 4,000 have quoted Jefferson but only 3,000 have actually quoted the first amendment. So Jefferson is quoted as an authority more often than the Constitution is on what you can and can’t do with religious expressions,” said Barton.
“As courts do not quote Jefferson’s full letter or his activities. They just use him as an authority and say, ‘Jefferson said there is s wall of separation so we can’t let a kid say ‘God’ at graduation.’ Jefferson would say, ‘What? Not in my name.'” said Barton.
The irony, says Barton, is that liberal court decisions have established a state religion in their efforts to make sure there isn’t one.
“There is no doubt the government has state-established religion on things like homosexual marriage, on things like abortion, because it does not allow any kind of religious toleration for beliefs other than its own,” said Barton.
In addition to separating fact from fiction about Jefferson, Barton has also been in the midst of a fierce debate about the merits of his book. In 2012, the hardcover version of “The Jefferson Lies” came under fire by critics identifying as conservatives. They claimed Barton falsely tried to paint Jefferson as a conventional Christian contrary to his usual portrayal as a deist who edited the bible to remove supernatural references.
Barton says the critics were way off and still are.
“In a long chapter, we show Jefferson was not in any way, shape, fashion or form an orthodox Christian. He questioned the divinity. He questioned the inspiration of scriptures, etc. But what we showed is that he was never anti-Christian, anti-Jesus or anti-religion,” said Barton.
Barton says his book is based on more than 10,000 original documents dated prior to 1812. He says it’s clear from Jefferson’s writings and actions that he was unwavering in his defense of religious freedom.
“Jefferson in office was not even close to a secularist. He’s the guy who helped facilitate church services starting every Sunday in the U.S. Capitol. He went there as president, eight years as president. He invited preachers to preach at the Capitol. By 1854, the largest church in the United States was the one that Jefferson helped facilitate in the U.S. Capitol,” said Barton.
Critics of Barton say their arguments were proven when publisher Thomas Nelson pulled “The Jefferson Lies” from its lineup. But Barton says that decision had nothing to do with which side was telling the truth.
“I had provided the publisher with two boxes of documentation of every claim we had in the book. The publisher never opened the documentation at all, never even called me. They just said they didn’t want the controversy. We’re bailing,” said Barton, who believes there’s a troubling premise behind the attacks on his scholarship.
“When a lot of these academics support the secularization of church and state we say, ‘Hey, you’re citing Jefferson on that. You can’t do that. Jefferson’s not the guy who secularized this. He’s the guy who put religious activities in so many public places. Then what you have to do is go after the person who makes Jefferson look different from what they portray him as,” said Barton.
Barton says this debate is about a whole lot more than his book and setting the record straight about the late 1800’s.
“Jefferson is the go-to guy on public policy today. If I can take Jefferson away from them, policy changes,” said Barton.