Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud the the buddy cop move by Ted Cruz and John Kasich to each back out of upcoming states to allow the other to blunt Donald Trump’s path to 1,237 delegates. They also condemn Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s move to restore rights to over 200,000 ex-convicts, including violent criminals. And they unload on the New York Times for suggesting NFL fans bear some responsibility for the troubles of hot shot, unemployed quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Archives for April 2016
Saying it’s long past time for the legislative branch to rein in President Obama and his successors, a conservative Republican congressman is bringing forth legislation to create a new permanent House committee to stop the president from exceeding the powers outlined in the Constitution.
Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., vaulted to prominence in early 2015 by running for Speaker of the House against incumbent Republican John Boehner. now he is introducing H. Res. 693, which would “establish the Permanent Select Committee on Oversight of the Executive Branch.”
“We have a constitutional crisis in this country. What we have to do is return that power back to the House for accountability, regardless of who’s in the executive branch,” said Yoho. “The whole purpose of this resolution is to get the executive branch to abide by Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, the take care clause, and faithfully execute the laws of the land.”
While he insists this is designed to holed all future presidents accountable, Yoho says there are copious examples of President Obama overstepping his constitutional powers. The congressman cited Obama’s unilateral action on immigration, his refusal to crack down on sanctuary cities and failing to allow the Senate to weigh in on apparent treaties such as the Iran nuclear deal and the climate change agreement signed by scores of nations on Friday.
“They think it’s okay to negotiate with the UN and put us in a non-binding agreement. Bad things happen from that. They bypass the legislative branches, either the Senate or the House, in this case it would be the Senate with a treaty. It’s not doing the American people or our national security justice,” said Yoho. “We’re seeing it more with this president.”
But he says it’s not just about Obama. He says three current presidential hopefuls convince him that this panel is needed as soon as possible because he believes their instincts would be to grab more power for the presidency.
“You look at the possibility of having a Bernie Sanders as president or a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump, I personally feel any of those will look at ways of skirting around the Constitution because the legislative branch has allowed them to do that,” said Yoho.
Yoho is getting two frequent questions since filing this bill along with Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, on April 19. The first is why the existing House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and various subcommittees can’t handle the job.
“How’s that been working to hold an executive accountable or somebody like (former Attorney General) Eric Holder accountable, who is charged with contempt? No results were seen by the American people,” said Yoho.
He says one advantage of a permanent committee overseeing the executive branch is that it could get to the bottom of investigations very quickly.
“It’ll live from one Congress to the next or one administration to the next instead of waiting for something to happen and then bring together a committee, which takes a year or two,” said Yoho.
The other major question directed to Yoho is confusion over why a bill helping Congress rein in the president was only introduced more than seven years into the Obama administration. He says the answer is simple.
“The political backbone up [on Capitol Hill], the willpower of a lot of people, they don’t want to get on anything that even looks like you’re reining in this president for whatever reason,” said Yoho.
Yoho points out that he and other members have made two other attempts to stop presidential power grabs. One bill would have clearly outlined what powers the president does and does not have on key issues.
“That bill we introduced over a year ago and it got no traction. People every day talk about what this president is doing unconstitutionally and how he’s overstepping that. When you put a vehicle out there to rein him in, there’s a big space between rhetoric and action,” said Yoho.
More recently, Yoho led the effort to censure Obama over the president freezing the Senate out of a chance to consider the Iran nuclear deal and for weakening national security. Again, it went nowhere.
While this new bill was just filed, GOP leaders seem very cool to the idea of this permanent committee. Yoho implores citizens to demand their representatives and senators beef up accountability for the White House and begin asserting the power of the legislative branch again.
“This is the time to do it. You or me as a private citizen, we have absolutely no recourse other than to voice that to our representatives. They are the only ones who can hold these people accountable,” said Yoho.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review actually applaud Vox for a lengthy piece condemning smug liberals for acting as though their opponents aren’t just wrong but too stupid to know what’s good for them. They also discuss the private group of Hollywood Republicans disbanding, possibly over tensions about Donald Trump. And discuss the surprising complexities, some of them conservative, of the late music star Prince.
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is vigorously defending his state’s new law on public accommodation in schools and government buildings, blasting Donald Trump’s assertions that the law was a mistake and that transgenders should be allowed to use whatever bathrooms they wanted.
Originally known as House Bill 2, the law came in response to a Charlotte City Council ordinance mandating that all public facilities should allow people to use the bathroom or locker room corresponding to their gender identity. The North Carolina statute overturned the rule, stating that public accommodation policy can only be established at the state level. It also said usage of bathrooms and other vulnerable areas in public schools and government buildings must be done according to the sex on a person’s birth certificate. It made no demands of businesses and allows them to adopt their own policies.
Since Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill March 25, liberal activist groups have protested the law as bigotry, businesses have threatened to pull out of North Carolina or scrap plans to come. Some musicians have canceled concerts and the NBA is debating whether to pull the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.
The issue got even more explosive on Thursday. When asked about the law on NBC’s “Today Show,” Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, surprised many by lining up in favor of the LGBT argument on the issue by suggesting “you leave it the way it is.”
“People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There is so little trouble. And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic punishment that they’re taking,” said Trump.
“Today” host Matt Lauer got even more specific.
“If Caitlyn Jenner were to walk into Trump Tower and use the bathroom, you would be fine with her using any bathroom she chooses?” asked Lauer.
“That is correct,” answered Trump.
He wasn’t done, offering an unprompted condemnation of public facilities having single occupancy bathrooms.
“There’s a big move to create new bathrooms. First of all, I think that would be discriminatory in a certain way,” said Trump, who also said the cost of creating all new facilities would be very expensive.
Lt. Gov. Forest says Trump has no idea what he’s talking about.
“He doesn’t know what’s going on. You can’t leave it the way it is. We didn’t do anything. The governor and the general assembly didn’t do anything except to strike down the Charlotte ordinance. Charlotte didn’t leave it the way it was. To his point, Charlotte should have left it the way it was,” says Forest.
“[Trump] running off the Human Rights Campaign narrative here. He just doesn’t know what’s happened in North Carolina. We couldn’t leave it the way it was because Charlotte didn’t leave it the way it was. We had to fix what they broke,” said Forest.
Saying you will never be wrong when doing the right thing, Forest says lawmakers and McCrory had to stop what Charlotte was implementing.
“They did something against the law, unconstitutional, opened up all women’s bathrooms, shower rooms, changing facilities to men, to anybody who wanted to walk in. We had to protect women and children,” said Forest.
GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz denounced Trump’s comments at an event in Maryland and in a statement.
The Trump comments came just two days after a three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a high school girl identifying as a boy could sue Gloucester County, Virginia, schools for discrimination since the U.S. Department of Education instructs students to be allowed to use facilities consistent with their gender identity and not necessarily their biological sex. Refusal to accommodate that request is considered a violation of Title IX.
The 4th Circuit also covers North Carolina, but while LGBT activists are hailing the decision as a death blow against the North Carolina law, Forest says it’s no such thing.
“It really wasn’t necessarily a ruling. This is one of those places where the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign and the other leftists out there are claiming victory on something that’s not a complete victory yet. What they did was send that back down to the lower court again to make a decision on it,” said Forest.
He says running to a cherry-picked panel of liberal judges is standard operation procedure for liberals.
“The left can’t win going through the legislative process and having the legislature vote on things and have a representative republic the way we’re supposed to. They went to the courts,” said Forest.
Forest also has no confidence in winning in the courts, citing the Supreme Court’s flip-flop on marriage. In 2013, the high court struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, saying marriage should be defined by the states. Two years later, the justices ruled a constitutional right to same-sex marriage and state laws were unconstitutional.
Also of great frustration to Forest is the complete rejection of “reasonable accommodation” provisions for people identifying as transgendered. He says the legislation specifically calls for individual occupancy restrooms so anyone can feel at ease there. But activists and even candidates like Trump reject that as another form of discrimination.
“The left and these folks with the Human Rights Campaign, they’re like a bunch of playground bullies They don’t want reasonable accommodation. They want a winner-takes-all approach. The winner-takes-all approach says this small minority of folks better win or we’re coming after you,” said Forest.
Forest says the Human Rights Campaign in particular looks to start fights in these situations. He says they look for “radical” mayors like Jennifer Roberts and urge them to take action on LGBT issues, vowing to back them up and relentlessly attack any opponents. Forest says the bullying also extends to businesses, who don’t even know what’s in the law but they’re afraid to challenge the Human Rights Campaign.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review condemn the Obama administration’s obsession with identity politics, but conclude that if you’re going to put a woman on currency, Harriet Tubman is a great choice – especially compared to the disasters the Obama folks could have picked. We also slam Trump for taking the left’s position on the transgender bathroom debate and tell his “evangelical” supporters “we told you so.” And we rip ESPN, in part for its treatment of Curt Schilling but mainly for being another hardcore, intolerant leftist outlet.
While the remaining presidential candidates plot strategy, Rev. Franklin Graham is going state to state to urge Americans to pray for their state and their nation and for Christians to seek public office or least get actively engaged in steering the U.S. in a more godly direction.
Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, is leading the Decision America Tour, which is in the process of visiting the state capitals of all 50 states and meets on the steps of the State Capitol building in each of those cities.
Graham says his desire to reverse the moral slide of the United States inspired this project.
“The country I grew up in is not the same country my grandchildren will have. They won’t have the same opportunities. Our country is changing so quickly. We have turned our back on God, and we are beginning to celebrate and flaunt sin,” said Graham.
While he is encouraging active political engagement by Christians, Graham says the solutions America truly needs aren’t found in any political party.
“The only hope for this country is God. We need to go from state capital to state capital and give people an opportunity to come and join me on the steps of their capitol to pray for their state and to pray for this nation. Then maybe God will hear our prayers and maybe He’ll give us a man or woman to lead this nation back to Him,” said Graham.
While many Christians and cultural conservatives are alarmed by how quickly liberal priorities are advancing, Graham says they were always creeping forward but were overshadowed by other threats.
“When I was growing up, we were afraid of the red threat. The commies were coming,” said Graham. “We built up our Army, our Air Force, our Navy to protect ourselves. When the Berlin Wall came down, everybody signed a sigh of relief, ‘We won that one.'”
“While we were relaxing, secularism, which is exactly the same as communism – they’re both godless, slowly over the last 40 years has taken this country. It’s gone into Washington. It’s gone into our state capitals. It’s gone into our local offices. It’s in our schools. What godless communism could not do, godless secularism has done,” said Graham.
Graham points to the fierce backlash that he and other believers receive for defending a biblical position in a political or policy debate. He says that hostility demands committed action now.
“We’re going to lose our voice. We’re going to lose the opportunity, not only to spread the gospel, but we’re going to lose our religious freedoms to even live out our faith,” said Graham.
He says Christian voices must be willing to defy those who insist they keep silent.
“It’s one thing to practice our faith. It’s another thing to live our faith. As a Christian, not only am I to practice my faith but I’m to live it every day,” said Graham. “The secularists want us to stop living it. They want us to hide in a closet. Well, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to back up and I’m not going to shut up.”
Graham says the state of the culture demands Christians take a stand.
“I’m going to fight and I’m asking Christians to join me in this fight. It’s to fight through the word of God. It’s to fight through prayer, but it’s also to fight by standing up and going to the polls and voting, not staying home. Twenty to thirty million Christians stayed home in the last presidential election. Let’s take our country back,” said Graham.
The Decision America Tour has already been to several state capitals but the vast majority of events are still to come and will take place until October. Graham says prayer is at the heart of the gatherings.
“We start with prayer. I ask the persons standing there to take the hands of the person next to them and hold their hands and start off by confessing the sins of our nation. I ask people to pray out loud. We stand on those steps and we pray out loud, confessing the sins of our nation, asking God for forgiveness,” said Graham.
Like every Graham project, Decision America also includes a gospel presentation. Graham says hundreds of people have accepted Christ as their savior at each stop along the tour.
“This is who we are. It’s what we do. Regardless of what audience I’m speaking to, I’m always going to give an invitation. So people come to faith in Christ as we go from capital to capital,” said Graham.
Graham is also quick to point out that he is not trying to launch any sort political effort for himself.
“People ask me if I’m running for office. I say, ‘No, but I am running a campaign for God and that is to put God back into the political process here in the United States of America,” said Graham.
He says the race for the White House is obviously very important but he says there are offices much closer to home that also matter a great deal.
“If we can get Christians to run for mayors, if we can get Christians to run for city council, if we can get Christians to run for school boards, if we can get Christians to run for the state house, we can win this thing. It doesn’t matter who the presidents are. We can win at home and we can win big,” said Graham.
He implores believers not to conclude that Christians aren’t meant to be politically active.
“As Christians, our voice needs to be heard. We’re not to be silent. God has not called us to be quiet and to sit on a pew like a church mouse. No, we’re to speak out. We’re to be the salt and light. Our voice should be heard and we need to let God’s word be heard,” said Graham.
Graham asserts that many churches have been derelict by not engaging in important public debates.
“So many churches now are more concerned about political correctness than they are about God’s word and His righteousness. I would encourage Christians and churches to take a bold stand and not be afraid,” said Graham.
“The world says if you get involved in politics than you’re being intolerant. Oh really? Well, then let’s be intolerant. We should be intolerant. We should not tolerate sin and we should not tolerate sinful behavior. Absolutely we should be intolerant, not of the individual but of the sin they represent,” said Graham.
Graham says truly loving one’s neighbor means having the courage to tell them the truth.
“We need to warn people that God is going to judge sin. Sinners are going to be plunged into darkness and God is going to judge it one day. We need to warn them that this is a time to repent and turn from their sin and to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Graham.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are hopeful that the Cuban people may inch closer to freedom as Fidel Castro announces he doesn’t expect to live much longer. They also groan as Donald Trump dominates the New York GOP primary and looks to do the same in several more states next week, while Hillary pretty much puts Sanders away. And they react to a Trump supporter trying to rally assistance in physically preventing Colorado and Wyoming delegates from attending the RNC in Cleveland.
Conservative House members are demanding the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his repeated failures to preserve and present evidence and deceiving lawmakers in testimony before Congress.
The accusations stem from the ongoing investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status. However, members of the House Freedom Caucus separately asserts the IRS is blatantly guilty of violating the fourth amendment rights of Americans.
The push for Koskinen’s impeachment began months ago but Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and some of his House Freedom Caucus colleagues brought the issue to the House floor last week in conjunction with the federal income tax filing deadline.
Jordan says Koskinen has a consistent pattern of obstruction and lying. Most frustrating is the destruction of up to 24,000 emails on Koskinen’s watch that may well have been critical to the congressional investigation into the IRS.
“On his watch, 400 back-up tapes are destroyed,” said Jordan. “He had the duty to preserve the documents with preservation orders put in place. He had a duty to produce them with two subpoenas asking for the documents.”
“He had a duty to testify accurately, which he did not. He had the duty to correct the record when he testified in an inaccurate fashion and he had a duty to tell us in a timely manner when in fact they had destroyed the documents and lost the documents. He failed every single duty he had and it seems to me, when you put all that record together, he should be impeached,” said Jordan.
Jordan says Koskinen has offered plenty of reasons for not complying with Congress, but none of them are any good.
“‘Bureaucratic snafu. We just didn’t quite get it done right. It wasn’t my fault. It was all the people down here. Oh, by the way, you didn’t send us enough money,'” Jordan recounted Koskinen as saying.
Jordan says the IRS itself would never be OK with the kind of excuses its leader is offering.
“If you were a taxpayer being audited and you allowed documents to be destroyed and you said, ‘I’m going to wait four months before I tell the IRS,’ do you think you could just behave that way. There is no way the average citizen could do that, but yet if you’re the big-shot commissioner that the president brought in to ‘clean up the IRS,’ you get away with it,” said Jordan.
While Jordan and his allies do not expect much greater cooperation from any other Obama appointees if Koskinen were to be impeached, Jordan says Koskinen’s conduct demands decisive action and he says the legislative branch is long overdue in sending a clear message to President Obama.
“Right now the executive branch is trampling all over the legislative branch. The founders, in their wisdom, wanted the legislative branch to be that part of our separate but equal branches of government that exercise the power of the purse and was the body closer to the people. The executive branch is trampling over the natural checks and balances,” said Jordan.
But while the House Freedom Caucus is bent on holding Koskinen accountable, House GOP leaders have yet to back the effort.
“We keep pushing but we’re not hearing the right things yet,” said Jordan.
In addition to Koskinen’s actions that include failure to preserve evidence and possibly destroying it, Jordan says it’s vital to remember this all happened because the former IRS director for non-profits, Lois Lerner, lied about what happened and invoked her fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination, refusing to testify before Congress.
“It puts a premium on the documents, the emails, the actual record,” said Jordan. “They were going after people’s most cherished right – the right to speak in a political nature against the policies of your government. You shouldn’t be harassed for doing so. Yet that’s what the IRS did.”
Jordan says the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, discovered the IRS falls $385 billion short of collecting all the revenue it should. The GAO offered 112 recommendations to close the gap, but less than half have been implemented.
But while the IRS ignores its main job, Jordan offered a new bombshell, that the IRS has been tracking people through their cell phones through stingray technology without proper authorization. He says the IRS is known to have used the technology on at least 37 occasions.
“They come into an area. The stingray device mimics a cell phone tower. So all cell phones in that area don’t run to the cell phone tower. They now bounce into the stingray and the IRS has the ability to get your number and your location,” said Jordan. “They are using this technology without getting a probable cause warrant.”
“So they’re engaging in this type of behavior as well, which shouldn’t surprise us. If they’re willing to go after your first amendment liberties, they’re probably not concerned about your fourth amendment rights either,” he said, noting wryly that the stingray was not one of the 112 recommendations suggested by the GAO report.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are pleased to see Democrats worried that rising hostility between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders could lead to a fractured party in November. They also shake their heads as Bernie Sanders’ tax return shows he doesn’t practice what he preaches. And they return fire at Rep. Peter King in a fun way after King says he hates Ted Cruz and would take cyanide if Cruz is the GOP nominee.
Health insurance companies are sounding the alarm that they will have to drastically hike premiums in the coming year or consider exiting the individual health care marketplace in the wake of massive losses sustained over the first couple of years under the rules of President Obama’s signature health care law.
A report in The Hill newspaper quotes Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini as well as multiple policy experts concluding the current track is unsustainable for the private sector insurance. Furthermore, a report from McKinsey & Company shows insurers lost money in the individual market in 41 of 50 states in 2014.
Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner says she hears the very same thing from health insurance providers.
“I have talked with insurance company CEO’s. I’ve talked with people in professional associations. They’re very worried because they were virtually assured by the Obama administration that the market would have stabilized by now,” said Turner.
She says this is not only a distress call to policy makers but a warning to consumers that much higher premiums are on the horizon.
“These reports and these announcements and these news stories are really warnings from the insurance industry, ‘Get ready because our premiums are going to have to be much higher if we’re going to continue to participate in the market. And if you tell us that you’re not going to approve those premium increases, we will drop out,'” said Turner.
Turner says insurance companies bought the Obama promise “that there would be enough young, healthy people in the markets to be able to offset the sicker, older people.” But something happened on the way to huge profits guaranteed through the individual mandate.
“The escape hatches [the health care law] created, the weakness of the individual mandate has meant that they wind up with many more people who are sicker and using many more health care services than anticipated and the premiums were not set to adjust to that,” said Turner.
She says the bad financial ideas underpinning the law are being exposed.
“They also thought they were going to get this other money through a lot of risk corridor reinsurance payments as well as the tax credits that people get to purchase premiums. So they thought all of those were going to make this a stable market. It’s only a stable market in the sense that the government is propping it up artificially with all these other funds and it’s not enough,” said Turner.
Turner says insurance companies are also getting crushed by people gaming the system. She says people sign up for coverage, get a lot of expensive health care right away and then cancel their coverage, only to sign up at the same government-guaranteed rate in the next open enrollment period.
She says this whole sea of red ink exposes the fundamental flaws with the law.
“It’s not a sustainable market. You cannot have government dictating how a market works. Only the market can do that and we’re seeing the failure of government-controlled health care,” said Turner.
The insurance industry is likely to elicit few tears from opponents of the Obama health care law as conservative activists implored companies not to get on board the Obama bandwagon. The industry didn’t listen, but Turner says watching them leave the marketplace is not an option either.
“We need the private health insurance companies to continue to participate and to offer insurance if we are going to have a private market. You don’t want them to fail,” said Turner.
Turner is hopeful that the issue will get a lot of attention in the 2016 election season. She is confident that despite the rhetoric of some Democratic candidates, the American people do not want government-run health care.
“The support for single payer among the American people is as low now as it has ever been in decades,” said Turner, who advocates health competition in the private sector regulated by the states.