WaPo Flashback: DOJ Probably Does Not Have Enough To File Civil Rights Charges Against Darren Wilson

As Katie mentioned yesterday, the Department of Justice is still conducting an ongoing investigation of its own:

While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, the Justice Department’s investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown remains ongoing. Though we have shared information with local prosecutors during the course of our investigation, the federal inquiry has been independent of the local one from the start, and remains so now. Even at this mature stage of the investigation, we have avoided prejudging any of the evidence. And although federal civil rights law imposes a high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted forming premature conclusions," Holder released in a statement.

DOJ is investigating whether Michael Brown’s civil rights were violated and whether there are discriminatory police practices happening in Ferguson.

Yet, on October 31, it was reported that federal officials probably don’t have enough evidence to file civil rights charges against Officer Darren Wilson, but a DOJ spokesperson called such assumptions premature (via WaPo):

Justice Department investigators have all but concluded they do not have a strong enough case to bring civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., law enforcement officials said.

“The evidence at this point does not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson,” said one person briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Justice Department officials are loath to acknowledge publicly that their case cannot now meet the high legal threshold for a successful civil rights prosecution.

Justice spokesman Brian Fallon said the case remains open and any discussion of its results is premature. “This is an irresponsible report by The Washington Post that is based on idle speculation,” Fallon said in a statement.

Other law enforcement officials interviewed by The Post said it was not too soon to say how the investigation would end. “The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely,” one said.

H/T Dan McLaughlin.

This Just In: Tesco is Sexist

Tesco, a grocery retailer based out of England, has just offended little girls everywhere, according to a slighted mother and her 7-year-old daughter. It's offense? Claiming superhero action figures were "toys for boys."

Karen Cole brought her daughter to Tesco for a routine grocery trip, when her daughter Maggie noticed a sign that said Marvel superheroes were "Fun gifts for boys." Here was Maggie's best Mckayla Maroney-Grumpy Cat-like reaction:

Cole's post got over 10,000 retweets and BuzzFeed decided to run a story on it suggesting that this little girl had "schooled" Tesco. The photo gained more than just social media buzz, however. The picture gained Tesco's attention, prompting the company to remove the "sexist" sign from each of its stores.

In response to her picture going viral, Cole wrote a blog post entitled, "Maggie v. Tesco, our story." In the piece, she explains how she has taught her daughter that toys aren't exclusive to any gender and she was pleasantly surprised that Tesco realized its mistake.

But, was it really a mistake?

John Stossel had a great segment on parents and their decision to raise children in gender neutral homes on his Fox News show which aired Saturday night. During the program, Stossel questioned parents who let their children decide whether they want to be boys or girls. He determined that it was confusing for children, to say the least. 

Christina Hoff Sommers, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, also tackled this issue in a piece for The Atlantic in 2012. After speaking with experts and studying research on the subject, here's what she concluded about children's play preferences:

"They are different, and nothing short of radical and sustained behavior modification could significantly change their elemental play preferences. Children, with few exceptions, are powerfully drawn to sex-stereotyped play. David Geary, a developmental psychologist at the University of Missouri, told me in an email this week, "One of the largest and most persistent differences between the sexes are children's play preferences." The female preference for nurturing play and the male propensity for rough-and-tumble hold cross-culturally."

Is it so mind boggling to suggest that boys and girls are programmed differently? Boys tend to want to pretend they're Iron Man, and girls tend to want to braid Elsa's hair. It's not sexist - it's basic science.

Presumably, Tesco also had Barbies or Easy Bake Ovens that were labeled "just for girls." I, for one, don't think the company would have to apologize for assuming that girls like playing with dolls and baking cookies - because they do! 

Instead of teaching our sons and daughters to be offended by false cases of sexism, why not teach them to embrace the differences between boys and girls? That is something to be thankful for.

New York Times Pretty Much Publishes The Address of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson

Yesterday in an attempt to report on the wedding of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, the New York Times published the street name and suburb where he owns a home with his pregnant wife outside of St. Louis. Breitbart's John Nolte was the first to report on the publication last night. 

Breitbart News will not link the story or give out the specific information, but the New York Times had no qualms whatsoever about publishing almost all the information needed for Officer Darren Wilson's enemies to track him and his wife down at home:

Officer Wilson and [his wife] own a home together on XXXXXXX Lane in XXXXXXXXXX, Mo., a St. Louis suburb about a half-hour drive from Ferguson.

The NYT published the information after a night of rage and violence across the country as rioters burnt business to the ground, called for Wilson's death, hurled rocks at police, smashed windows, turned over cops cars etc., putting the lives of Wilson and his wife further at risk. To make matters worse, the online publication Slate posted a photo of Wilson's home. 

Meanwhile, here's another egregious example of reckless media: 

Confirmed: Congress Can Defund Obama's Amnesty

Congress does have the power to defund any federal agency, even an agency funded through fees, the Congressional Research Service determined in a letter released last week.

The letter, requested by a Republican lawmaker, addressed an issue raised by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), who has claimed it is impossible for Republicans to defund Obama's amnesty since the agency in charge of issuing the work permits, the United Stated Citizenship and Immigration Services office, is almost entirely funded by user fees.

The CRS found that Rogers' claim was completely false. From the letter:

In light of Congress's constitutional power over the purse, the Supreme Court has recognized that "Congress may always circumscribe agency discretion to allocate resources by putting restrictions in the operative statutes." Where Congress has done so, "an agency is not free simply to disregard statutory responsibilities. Therefore, if a statute were enacted which prohibited appropriated funds from being used for some specified purposes, then the relevant funds would be unavailable to be obligated or expended for those purposes.

A fee-funded agency or activity typically refers to one in which the amounts appropriated by Congress for that agency or activity are derived from fees collected from some external source. Importantly, amounts received as fees by federal agencies must still be appropriated by Congress to that agency in order to be available for obligation or expenditure by the agency. In some cases, this appropriation is provided through the annual appropriations process. In other instances, it is an appropriation that has been enacted independently of the annual appropriations process (such as a permanent appropriation in an authorizing act). In either case, the funds available to the agency through fee collections would be subject to the same potential restrictions imposed by Congress on the use of its appropriations as any other type of appropriated funds.

Incoming-House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) is already laying the groundwork for Congress to defund Obama's amnesty sometime early next year. House Republicans would pass a long-term funding bill for most of the federal government this December, but would not include agencies that dealt with illegal immigration in that bill. They would then pass a separate bill that funded those agencies, but only on a short-term basis.

This would allow Republicans to fight Obama's amnesty early next year when they have control of both the House and the Senate. 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Undergoes Successful Heart Surgery

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent heart surgery early this morning, and had a stent placed in her right coronary artery. She is reportedly doing well after surgery and is expected to be discharged in the next few days.

According to NBC, Ginsburg realized something was amiss during a workout session yesterday evening.

The blockage was discovered after she felt discomfort on Tuesday night, the court said. For the past few years, Ginsburg has been working out with a personal trainer at the Supreme Court gym, and a court official said she was there when she felt the discomfort.

Ginsburg, 81, is the oldest member of the Supreme Court and has been a member since 1993. She is part of the court's liberal wing.

Best wishes to Justice Ginsburg on a full and speedy recovery during the holiday season.

Schumer: In Retrospect, We Should Have Focused on the Economy, Not Obamacare


This from Senate Democrats' top strategist, whose budget-shirking, tough vote-blocking, rules-changing course of action -- carried out by Harry Reid -- still wasn't enough to salvage his party's upper chamber majority, which stood at a robust 20 seats as recently as early 2010.  He's right, of course, and now it can finally be spoken (all videos in this post via the Washington Free Beacon):


"Democrats should have continued to propose middle class-oriented programs, and built on the partial success of the stimulus. But unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity that the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem: Healthcare reform…it wasn't the change we were hired to make."

Several interesting bits in that clip -- from the qualified assessment of the wasteful, ineffectual stimulus program (which failed on its own terms), to the the frank admission of misplaced priorities, to the acknowledgement that the general public didn't want Obamacare (despite all of the overwrought promises and lies), to the almost jaw-droppingly candid political calculus about uninsured Americans as a voting bloc.  Also implicit in Schumer's analysis is a concession that Obamacare is not, and never was, the "jobs bill" Democrats spent so much time and effort arguing it was.  Empirical evidence has borne out that fact for years now, but it's rather striking hearing it straight from a ranking Democrat's mouth.  Schumer is obviously grappling with the political facts on the ground, as they actually exist.  President Obama was re-elected despite his signature "accomplishment" (a slim plurality of the electorate that granted him four more years favored repealing the law), and in the two election cycles that sandwiched 2012, Obamacare was a front-and-center issue.  The results horrific for Democrats.

In fact, since the infamous Christmas Eve 2009 Senate vote on the bill that would become Obamacare, 29 of the 60 Democratic Senators who lent decisive 'aye' votes will have left office by the time the new Congress convenes in January.  If I'm reading Philip Klein's rundown properly, Mary Landrieu's likely loss would make it a clean 30.  Fully half of Senate Democrats who passed Obamacare will be gone within five years of casting that vote.  It's true that a fair number of these departures had nothing to do with the law.  A few died, while others were from blue states and were replaced by fellow Democrats.  But roughly half of those who have left or are on their way out were defeated by, or replaced by, Republicans.  Democrats fought the 2010 and 2014 elections with Obamacare serving as a heavy albatross, and they were severely punished by voters who don't buy the feeble  "it's working" propaganda.  I'll leave you with two more excerpts from Schumer's speech at the National Press Club.  The first is his, er,  'solution' to Democrats' woes moving forward: Embracing big government even more.  Yes, really.  The second features his snide dismissal of the Keystone pipeline as a project that would 'only' create thousands of jobs, mostly in red states.  Cynical, cold-blooded calculation, thy name is Charles Schumer:




Absolute Chaos: 20 Year-Old Dies, Woman Gets Run Over Among Ferguson Protests

There's another family grieving the loss of their son today in Ferguson, Missouri. 

DeAndre Joshua, 20, was found dead Tuesday morning inside a parked car near the same apartment complex where Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown.

Monday night's chaotic demonstration of anarchy and lawlessness that flooded the streets of Ferguson is how family members say Joshua died, but they do not know the specifics. 

Police are investigating the death, but Joshua's grandmother, Renita Towns, said to USA TODAY regarding the investigation, "Police don't care — he's black."

Protests around the country that are meant to show solidarity with Ferguson are demonstrating barbaric and uncivilized behavior as well. 

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, a drive plowed through a crowd of protestors running over one women and hitting several others.

WATCH: 

(She lives.)

In Los Angeles, protestors ran onto the 101 Freeway near Downtown L.A. that blocked traffic and created a nightmare commute. They also threw trash onto the freeway and hit an LAPD officer with a frozen water bottle that was hurled into the air.

One more thing: Protestors were caught burning American flags in our nation's capitol. 

As many around the country act like complete animals burning down buildings, flipping over cars, yelling and screaming at...each other, I guess, I'm not sure, there are people getting hurt and even dying because of the message they are trying to communicate. It is a distortion to our Constitution's sparkling gem, the First Amendment, and I hope that people will take what the Constitution says seriously and peacefully protest until the cows come home (as they say).

PHOTOS: Ferguson Rioters Burn American Flags, Turn Over Cop Cars During Second Night of Violence

Protests turned violent again last night as rioters took to the streets burning American flags, shutting down traffic, smashing windows, throwing bottles filled with urine at law enforcement, hurling rocks and setting cop cars on fire in cities across the country. 

Ferguson: 

Washington D.C.: 

Oakland:

New York City: 

There were dozens of arrests and violent incidents across the country in other major cities, these are just a few examples. 

As a reminder, the step father of Michael Brown called for rioters in Ferguson to "burn this b*tch down" two nights ago. They listened. 

Obama to Illegal Immigration Hecklers: Settle Down, "I Just Took Action to Change The Law"

Speaking during an event in Chicago last night, President Obama was interrupted by hecklers who yelled at him about illegal immigration. Obama responded by telling them a month ago their concerns would have been justified, but now they're invalid because of his executive action to "change the law" on the issue.

"You're absolutely right that there have been significant numbers of deportations. That's true. But what you are not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law," Obama said. 

The White House has repeatedly argued President Obama isn't changing the law, but is instead simply using his executive authority to change prosecutorial discretion and therefore the action is constitutional, legal and valid. 

"We’re not talking about whether or not the President is going to enforce certain laws," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday at the daily press briefing. "We’re talking about the Department of Homeland Security using prosecutorial discretion to sharpen the focus of enforcement on those who pose a threat to national security, and those who pose a threat to public safety."

Obama has received criticism about changing the law by executive fiat from Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the legal field.

Schumer: "Democrats Must Embrace Government"

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on fellow Democrats to "embrace government; not run away from it" today at a press conference at The National Press Club in Washington, DC.

"As 2014 began," Schumer explained, "the parties were in stalemate. But, when government failed to deliver on a string of non-economic issues– the rollout of the Obamacare exchanges, the mishandling of the surge in border crossers, ineptitude at the VA and the government’s initial handling of the Ebola threat – people lost faith in the government’s ability to work, and then blamed the incumbent governing party, the Democrats, creating a Republican wave."

"In order to win in 2016," Schumer continued, "Democrats must embrace government; not run away from it."

Why is Schumer so sure that more government programs are the best message for Democrats in 2016?

"Ultimately, the public knows in its gut that a strong and active government is the only way to reverse the middle class decline and help revive the American Dream," Schumer claimed.

Unfortunately for Schumer, the exit polls from the last three elections show that a majority of Americans, even the majority of Americans that reelected President Obama in 2012, do not believe that more government is the way to get America back on track.

Yes, in 2008, the electorate that elected Obama in a landslide also said that the federal government should "do more" (51%-43%). But in 2010, 56% of voters said government was "doing too much" and just 38% said it should do more. Voters in 2014 also said government was doing too much by a 54% to 41% margin. Even in 2012, when voters gave Obama a 51% to 47% margin, those very same voters also said government was doing too much 51% to 43%.

There simply is no evidence that the American people's "gut" wants more government.

Instead, after more than six years of relentless government growth under Obama, a full 75% of Americans are "dissatisfied" with "the way things are going in the nation today."

Schumer did get one thing right. 

"One simple fact illustrates how stark this division is today," Schumer said. "The most conservative Senate Democrat, probably Joe Manchin, still believes more in government than the most liberal Senate Republican, Susan Collins. The belief in government – its size, its role, and its possibilities – is really what undergirds our politics and fundamentally divides our parties."

Schumer is right: Democrats want to expand the size and scope of the federal government at every turn, while conservatives want to shrink it.

Schumer believes that there is no agenda capable of both shrinking government and helping average Americans.

He is wrong

Rand Paul on Ferguson: "Politicians Are To Blame"

Sen. Rand Paul is perhaps the Republican politician most attempting to create positive change out of the tragedy that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. He has consistently made the case that it is government dysfunction and mismanagement that created the backdrop for the sense of injustice in the St. Louis suburb.

In an op-ed in Time today, Sen. Paul writes:

In the search for culpability for the tragedy in Ferguson, I mostly blame politicians. Michael Brown’s death and the suffocation of Eric Garner in New York for selling untaxed cigarettes indicate something is wrong with criminal justice in America. The War on Drugs has created a culture of violence and put police in a nearly impossible situation.

In Ferguson, the precipitating crime was not drugs, but theft. But the War on Drugs has created a tension in some communities that too often results in tragedy. One need only witness the baby in Georgia, who had a concussive grenade explode in her face during a late-night, no-knock drug raid (in which no drugs were found) to understand the feelings of many minorities — the feeling that they are being unfairly targeted.

Three out of four people in jail for drugs are people of color. In the African American community, folks rightly ask why are our sons disproportionately incarcerated, killed, and maimed?

African Americans perceive as true that their kids are more likely to be killed. ProPublica examined 33 years of FBI data on police shootings, accounted for the racial make-up of the country, and determined that: “Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater.”

Sen. Paul expanded upon this in an interview with Politico:

The Kentucky Republican did say the situation reflects an “undercurrent of unease out there related to poverty, related to drugs.” He added, “I think part of the answer is trying to reform our criminal justice system.”

“If you don’t like your local government … you need to replace them,” he said. And Paul reflected that he exited his October meeting in Ferguson with the feeling that participants had the “sense it was a good idea.”

FDA Finalizes Menu Labeling Rules

Thanks to the FDA’s calorie labeling regulations announced Tuesday, major changes will soon be coming to the food and restaurant industries.

The regulation itself is nothing new; it became law in 2010 as a provision attached to the Affordable Care Act, but final rules were delayed for the past few years, thanks in large part to heavy opposition from grocery stores, pizza chains, vending machines, convenience stores, and movie theaters. Although some concessions were made, none of these industries were fully spared. By November 2015, these establishments will be forced to post calorie information on menus and menu boards, which opponents have argued is costly (representatives from the grocery store industry, for example, have said it will exceed $1 billion) and will have job-killing effects.

The FDA’s press release has the details:

The menu labeling final rule applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items. Covered food establishments will be required to clearly and conspicuously display calorie information for standard items on menus and menu boards, next to the name or price of the item. […]

The FDA considered more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers in developing these rules. In response to comments, the FDA narrowed the scope of foods covered by the rule to more clearly focus on restaurant-type food, made other adjustments such as ensuring the flexibility for multi-serving dishes like pizza to be labeled by the slice rather than as a whole pie, and provided establishments additional time to comply with the rule.

In addition, the menu labeling final rule now includes certain alcoholic beverages served in covered food establishments and listed on the menu, but still provides flexibility in how establishments meet this provision. The majority of comments supported including alcohol because of the impact on public health. The menu labeling rule also includes food facilities in entertainment venue chains such as movie theaters and amusement parks.

The nanny state rules were designed to “aid consumers in selecting more healthful diets” and rein in the obesity epidemic in America. But what does the data say?

“The evidence that menu labeling has any significant impact on public health is scant,” Food Marketing Institute’s Erik Lieberman wrote in 2012. “Indeed, of the studies FDA cites in the rule, most demonstrate that menu labeling has little to no effect on purchasing habits. Furthermore, no study shows any link to reduction of obesity rates, the purported benefit which FDA used to justify the menu labeling regulation.”

And there you have it.

The food police are here.

Update: Lynn Liddle, chairperson of the American Pizza Community, said the following in a statement provided to Townhall: 

“The APC has worked for nearly five years to provide FDA with a sensible approach to menu labeling. However, FDA’s final rules only provided small concessions that don’t solve many of the regulation’s problems, while making the rules even more onerous for small business.

“The APC will now enlist the help of allies to right this wrong. We encourage Congress to pass the bipartisan Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R. 1249/S. 1756) that permits flexibility for small business, as well logical solutions for consumers.”

Gov. Nixon Deploys More National Guard Units To Ferguson

In the aftermath of the chaos that erupted last night in Ferguson, Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon is ordering more National Guard units to be present in the area tonight. In all, 2,200 Guardsmen will be working, along with local and state police, to prevent further violence (via AP):

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says more than 2,200 National Guardsmen will be in place in the region near Ferguson on Tuesday night in the event of more violence.

He said Tuesday that hundreds more will be deployed to Ferguson, where fires and looting erupted Monday night after word that a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The rest will be in a position to respond rapidly, if needed.

Nixon says 700 guardsmen were in the area on Monday night, when more than a dozen buildings were set on fire and otherwise vandalized.

Ferguson's mayor said earlier in the day that the National Guard wasn't deployed quickly enough as violent protests broke out.

More protests are expected.

Yellow Peril: Does Harvard Have An Asian Problem?

OK, maybe it’s not that ominous, but lawsuits filed by Students for Fair Admission against Harvard and the University of North Carolina allege that “the schools use race preferences to reach a specific racial balance on campus and have failed to abide by the strict scrutiny of racial preferences required by the Supreme Court,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

It may not be like the concerted anti-Semitic efforts Harvard employed to reduce the number of Jewish applicants in the early 20th century, but the suit notes that while other minorities are growing in their rates of acceptance at the elite school, Asian enrollment has remained flat:

Over the last eight years Asian students have comprised between 17.6% and 20.7% of students admitted to Harvard. Though the number of Asians applying for admission has increased, the percentage of offers has barely budged. In 1992, 19.1% of Harvard’s admissions offers went to Asian applicants, compared to 25.2% who were admitted to the California Institute of Technology, a school that doesn’t use racial preferences. In 2013 Harvard made 18% of its offers to Asians, while CalTech admitted 42.5% Asian students.

Similar admissions percentages at Harvard have held steady for other racial groups with remarkably little variance. In other words, while schools like Harvard say the goal of racial preferences is to achieve a “critical mass” of minority students, the admissions evidence suggests that the school is reserving pre-rationed pie slices for racial groups.

Yascha Mounk wrote in the New York Times that admission numbers for Asians at Harvard have actually been stagnant for nearly two decades–and that Asian applicants must score at least 140 points higher than whites on their SATs:

A similar injustice is at work today, against Asian-Americans. To get into the top schools, they need SAT scores that are about 140 points higher than those of their white peers. In 2008, over half of all applicants to Harvard with exceptionally high SAT scores were Asian, yet they made up only 17 percent of the entering class (now 20 percent). Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in America, but their proportion of Harvard undergraduates has been flat for two decades.

These challenges are the result of the Supreme Court refusing rule if affirmative action policies constituted racial discrimination in the college admission process in their 2013 Fisher v. University of Texas decision.

Affirmative action is another complicated–and racially charged–subject–and it appears to be impacting Asian Americans negatively. It adds another layer to the debate.

Confirmed: Jeb Bush Casually Stopping by South Carolina in December

You know what that means: It’s time for another round of endless speculation about whether or not Jeb Bush will run for president in 2016.

As it happens, he’s slated to speak at the University of South Carolina’s winter commencement. The Hill has the details:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, will visit the critical early primary state of South Carolina next month. The University of South Carolina announced on Monday that Bush will give the Dec. 15 commencement speech and receive an honorary degree for public service. Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, and brother, former President George W. Bush, both spoke at the same commencement and received honorary degrees from the school.

While Bush’s participation at the school’s events aren’t political, potential candidates often use their time in early primary and caucus states to meet with supporters and party leaders, laying the groundwork for a potential run. South Carolina voters have a history of voting in the primary for the party’s eventual nominee. But their perfect streak was broken in 2012, when former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) triumphed in the state over the eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Gingrich’s South Carolina victory ended up being the high point of his campaign, which fell apart shortly after.

A crucial factor in any potential candidate’s decision to run for president is how his or her family members feel about such a prospect. Last month, for example, former President George W. Bush was asked by Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade whether or not his brother should take the plunge, and his answer was unmistakably 'yes' (via WaPo):

Potential presidential candidate Jeb Bush seems to making fresh inroads with at least one key GOP constituency: members of his immediate family.

George W. Bush said he thought his brother should launch a White House bid. “[H]e and I had a conversation. I, of course, was pushing him to run for president,” the former President told Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade in an on-air interview Thursday morning. “He of course was saying, ‘I haven’t made up my mind.’ And I truly don’t think he has.”

But he added: “I think he wants to be president.”

Bush 41 also reportedly feels the exact same way. So we’ll see if some friendly, familial pressure over the holidays has its intended effect.

By the way, one way or the other, Bush’s announcement should be coming any day now.

White House Kicks Hagel on His Way Out the Door


The White House announced the effective firing of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Monday, pulling the plug on the former Senator's relatively brief stint at the Pentagon. Hagel's journey at DOD began with an embarrassingly poor performance during his tumultuous confirmation hearings, and has ended in a fairly ignominious farewell.  Fox News' Howard Kurtz notes that the spin and leak war is very much underway, with 'senior administration officials' telling reporters that President Obama had lost confidence in his Defense Secretary.  But Sen. John McCain is hearing different things:


“Sen. John McCain,R-Ariz., who is slated to take over as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in January, said that Hagel ‘was frustrated with aspects of the administration’s national security policy and decision-making process,’ citing ‘excessive micro-management’ on the part of the White House. “McCain noted that Hagel’s predecessors as defense secretary — Robert M. Gates and Leon E. Panetta — had both likewise complained in their memoirs about excessive political interference from White House aides.”

A Politico story quotes officials calling Hagel's departure "superficial," and a political attempt to convince dissatisfied Americans that the White House is engaging in a post-election, national security-focused shake up. "This is not a shake-up because Hagel never really had a voice in policy discussions anyway," one said.  The same Politico piece suggests that Hagel's foot-dragging on Gitmo detainees -- which reportedly fed his ongoing internal conflict with National Security Adviser Susan Rice -- may have contributed to his exit from the West Wing's good graces:

In the eyes of Obama aides, Hagel could be maddeningly slow to respond to policy directives from the White House. When Obama began pushing last year to reinvigorate the process of closing the Guantanamo detention camp, White House aides repeatedly urged Hagel to sign off on transfers of detainees who had long been cleared for release. Yet for months, the defense secretary refused to sign certifications that the future threat posed by the prisoners could be adequately mitigated, according to a U.S. official. “This was not an insignificant source of friction,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “I can say definitively on this one it has been utterly public and unmistakeable in terms of the disconnect.” White House irritation with Hagel grew so intense that last May, Rice sent Hagel an extraordinary memo directing him to report every two weeks on progress toward transferring or releasing Guantanamo prisoners, the source said, discussing a directive first reported earlier this year by the New York Times. “He was the bottleneck,” said one advocate closely tracking the process. “He wasn’t signing off."


As others have rightly pointed out, Hagel did sign off on the most controversial Guantanamo relocations: Namely, the (illegal) release of five high-ranking Taliban commanders in exchange for captured US soldier and alleged deserter Bowe Bergdahl.  When Obama endured a blitzkrieg of criticism over the deal, the White House tried to pawn the blame off onto Hagel.  Hagel was apparently uncomfortable blindly green-lighting the release of untold numbers of jihadists, then he contradicted the White House's messaging on ISIS by calling the terrorist fighting force an "imminent threat" to US interests.  Remember, Hagel was brought in to be the Republican face of Obama's unwinding of wars and defense cuts; perhaps he got the axe because he proved to be, in some respects, too hawkish.  At the very least, according to the McCain quote above, Hagel grew disillusioned with excessive interference from the hyper-political White House.  Now that administration officials are referring to Hagel as "low-hanging fruit" to be plucked (again, not as part of any meaningful shake-up), it seems as though the White House is guaranteeing negative reviews from Obama's third consecutive Defense Secretary.  Robert Gates and Leon Panetta have each issued stark criticisms of the administration in which they served.  Which brings us back to this weeks-old question from Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank:


Perhaps it's some combination of Obama's out-of-his-depth weakness, his relentlessly political mentality, his team's micromanagement, his propensity for blame, and his apparent inability to earn personal respect from some of his key principals.

Wow: Gruber Once Argued Abortion is an Economic, Social Benefit

In case we needed another reason to be frustrated with Jonathan Gruber, America's most infamous architect who insulted our intelligence, he also once argued that abortion has helped improve our nation's economy and social environment. In a paper he helped write in May 1997 for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Gruber and two fellow writers suggested that abortion has helped save the nation money and social woes. Here is one of their must infuriating excerpts:

We find evidence of sizeable positive selection: the average living circumstances of cohorts of children born immediately after abortion became legalized improved substantially relative to preceding cohorts, and relative to places where the legal status of abortion was not changing. Our results suggest that the marginal children who were not born as a result of abortion legalization would have systematically been born into worse circumstances had the pregnancies not been terminated: they would have been 70% more likely to live in a single parent household, 40% more likely to live in poverty, 35% more likely to die during the first year of life, and 50% more likely to be in a household collecting welfare. The last of these finding implies that the selection effects operating through the legalization of abortion saved the government over $14 billion in welfare payments through the year 1994.

It is upsetting, to say the least, that someone who thought so highly of Roe V. Wade was helping to craft our national health care law. Perhaps it explains why Obamacare is filled with abortion subsidies and plans that indirectly fund the procedure.

Gruber isn't the only one with influence on Obamacare who once promoted abortion rights. Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a close political relationship with abortionist George Tiller, who faced criminal charges for performing illegal late-term abortions. Tiller was murdered in 2009 by an anti-abortion activist. 

How many other government workers have hidden abortion agendas? 

At least we can be comforted to know that a record number of pro-lifers are heading for Congress this January.

Hotel Hillary Clinton Posited Employs Illegal Immigrants Denies Claim

Last week, Hillary Clinton gave a speech at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at the gala for the New York Historical Society. During the Q&A following her speech, Clinton took the time to praise President Obama's executive order that shielded five million illegal immigrants from being deported. Clinton claimed that the executive order was about protecting livelihoods, including, "people, I would venture to guess, who served us tonight," referring to the employees of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Here's where it gets awkward: according to a letter emailed to The Weekly Standard, the hotel specifically goes out of their way to ensure that their employees are in fact legal residents of the United States:

“Mandarin Oriental, New York does not knowingly employ illegal and/or undocumented immigrants. We require all employees to provide proof of their eligibility to legally work in the U.S.,” said Tammy Peters, a spokesperson for the hotel, in an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “All wait staff and catering staff are employed through our hotel and we do not use outside contractors for such services.”

Employing someone who is illegally in the United States is a crime.

It's quite odd that Clinton would take a look at her (presumably Hispanic) waiter at the gala and assume that they must be in the country illegally. It's a slap in the face to hardworking people who waited and worked hard to move here legally. While Obama referred to illegal immigrants as fruit pickers and maids during his speech, it's important to note that people of all legal statuses are employed at these positions.

Jobs, Economy Get Huge Boost from National Gas Production

Over the last eight years, natural gas and oil production has been one area which has provided consistent employment and economic growth. The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council released a report this month showing that while total U.S. employment declined by 0.3 percent between 2005 and 2013, natural gas production expanded by 35 percent.

“Jobs grew by 46.1 percent in the oil and gas extraction sector; by 61.0 percent in the drilling oil and gas wells sector; by 100.2 percent in the support sector for oil and gas operations; by 66.1 percent in the oil and gas pipeline and related structures construction sector; and by 67.1 percent in the oil and gas field machinery and equipment manufacturing sector.”

Last year I wrote of how North Dakota's Bakken oil fields helped draw an additional 22,000 residents to the state and fostered the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Theirs was not the only success story. Tapping into America’s natural resources has boosted businesses and jobs nationwide.

Here are a few condensed statistics showing the growth which occurred between from 2005 to 2012:

Arkansas: Natural gas production expanded by 501.7 percent; added 6,500 new jobs.

Colorado: Natural gas production expanded by 139.1 percent. On the energy front, jobs grew between 42 percent and 153 percent in energy sectors.

Louisiana: Natural gas production expanded by 83.0 percent. Overall employment increased in Louisiana, with jobs growing by 40.8 percent in the support sector for oil and gas operations.

Oklahoma: Natural gas production expanded by 30.8 percent; added 28,609 jobs.

Pennsylvania: Natural gas production expanded by 1,239.3 percent; jobs grew by 512.3 percent in the support sector for oil and gas operations.

Texas: Natural gas production expanded by 39.8 percent; added 131,867 jobs.

Utah: Natural gas production expanded by 62.8 percent; jobs in energy industries grew in the range of 35 percent to 122 percent.

Virginia: Natural gas production expanded by 65.2 percent. Jobs in Virginia grew by 102.4 percent in the oil and gas pipeline and related structures construction sector.

West Virginia: Natural gas production expanded by 144.2 percent. The growth in jobs in each of the energy sectors for which there is data ranged between 44 percent and 310 percent.

Wyoming: Natural gas production expanded by 15.2 percent. Overall jobs grew most notably in oil and gas pipeline and related structures construction sector – by 268.4 percent.

With the struggling economy being consistently ranked one of the most important problems in the U.S., the 114th Congress, as well as businesses and entrepreneurs, should take note of this booming industry. 

CNN: Say, Why Did Prosecutors Delay the Ferguson Decision and Release it at Night?

One of the many questions I had watching the developments in Ferguson, MO unfold last night was why on earth did prosecutor Robert McCulloch decide to delay and release the grand jury’s decision? As it turns out, CNN has written an entire piece asking -- and trying to address -- this very question.

Common sense teaches us that waiting until nightfall to release the verdict, which gives crowds additional time to assemble and expand under the cover of darkness, is a bad idea. This totally avoidable, arbitrary decision is almost certainly one of the reasons why Ferguson erupted into mass demonstrations and destruction last night, despite the president’s strong urgings for protestors in Ferguson to remain peaceful.

But perhaps prosecutors understand these kinds of situations better than I do:

Initially, prosecutors were expected to give law enforcement 48 hours' notice from when the grand jury made its decision to when the announcement was made. But that clearly didn't happen Monday, since the decision and the announcement came on the same day.

But there may have been advantages in keeping the decision secret for hours -- most businesses are closed and there's less traffic.

"Now, I can understand, maybe he wanted to make sure that all students had left school or that everyone had cleared out," said community activist John Gaskin, referrring to McCulloch. "But he could have easily made this (announcement) tomorrow morning."

Also, chilly nighttime weather can sometimes deter violence -- though Ferguson's near-freezing temperatures overnight didn't stop agitators from looting businesses and setting dozens of buildings and cars on fire.

Indeed, if the decision was issued at (say) 6:00 AM, could the chaos have been controlled, or perhaps even avoided? We’ll never know. 

There is, of course, no ‘good time’ to release a decision like this, especially when the verdict is perceived by many as a miscarriage of justice. But doing so at 8:00 PM CT seems like a terrible, terrible decision. And one that could have, and should have, been avoided.

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, the crew over at Morning Joe were also scratching their heads this morning about the timing of the Ferguson decision. “This was totally foreseeable,” the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson said on the program. "This was an awful way to do it."

Obamacare: Most-Used Plans Face Double-Digit Average Premium Increases


Please consider Friday's 'Obamacare losing streak' post officially updated.  Behold, the 'Affordable' Care Act at work.  Congratulations, "beneficiaries" (via The Hill):

The average price of the most popular ObamaCare health insurance plans rose 10 percent for 2015, according to a new study of premium figures published Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)...Not only are premiums increasing, but if consumers do not pick a different plan, they could pay more due to annual changes in how subsidies are calculated.

That's according to the administration itself -- and we know how scrupulously transparent they are about reporting unhelpful news, don't we?  This double-digit average increase for consumers who've signed up for Obamacare's most popular plans speaks to another problem we addressed over the summer: Namely, as the exchanges' so-called "benchmark" plans change from year to year, a large number of customers will be forced to decide between absorbing higher costs (as previous benchmark plans hike their rates), and uprooting themselves from their existing plan -- again, in many cases.  And, as usual, this doesn't even address the high out-of-pocket costs associated with Obamacare's "affordable" plans.  Plus, it's tough to anticipate the full extent of the chaos that will befall the (already buggy) subsidy calculation regime if the Supreme Court reaches the correct conclusion in this important case.  No wonder many uninsured Americans are saying 'thanks but no thanks' to the law supposedly passed for their benefit, according to the latest Kaiser poll:

[Forty-one] percent of uninsured Americans intend to remain uninsured - the vast majority because they do not believe they will find an affordable plan; Just 37 percent have a favorable view of the law, against 46 percent who do not; 46 percent say the law should be repealed or scaled back, against 42 percent who want it expanded or implemented as is; and, Just 16 percent say the law has helped them, while 24 percent say it has hurt (with the majority of those saying it has increased their health costs).

They'll pay substantially more next year for the privilege of remaining uninsured -- unless they avail themselves of one of the administration's catch-all hardship waivers -- but those punitive taxes will still be much lower than than the cost of enrolling in and paying for Obamacare "coverage."  I employ scare quotes there because many Obamacare consumers continue to be let down by their plans' narrow coverage networks, resulting in frustrating problems keeping preferred doctors and obtaining care.  In California, the pain of "access shock" has been amplified by a spate of inaccurate information being relayed to patients:

Bolstering a chief complaint about Obamacare coverage, California regulators said two major health insurers violated state law by overstating the number of doctors available to patients. More than 25% of physicians listed by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California weren't taking Covered California patients or were no longer at the location listed by the companies, according to state reports released Tuesday. In some cases, these errors led to big unforeseen medical bills when patients unwittingly ventured to out-of-network doctors for medical tests or a surgery. The results of the five-month investigation come at a critical juncture as the second year of health law enrollment gets underway...

State regulators are blaming the insurance companies for this kerfuffle, but recall that Covered California, the state's marketplace, experienced similarly embarrassing missteps on this front, too.  These troubles only feed into the larger Obamacare narrative of confusion and incompetence.  Speaking of state-level exchanges, oh look -- fresh cost pressures:

The federal government shelled out billions of dollars to get health insurance marketplaces going in the 14 states that opted to run their own. Now they must act like true marketplaces and start paying for themselves. Under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, state-run health insurance exchanges need to be financially self-sustaining starting in January. Some appear to be on that path, while others have shaky funding models or even none at all. Some states, prohibited from using state money, are imposing fees on plans sold on the marketplaces. Others are spreading costs more widely — which, in one instance, has drawn a federal lawsuit.

Click through to read about various states that have no way to pay for ongoing exchange operations, prompting calls to join the federal exchange (which may not allow for any taxpayer subsidies, pending the aforementioned SCOTUS ruling), and the imposition of taxes and fees that are driving up the cost of healthcare.  The legislatures and governors who declined to participate in this mess are looking more fiscally prudent by the day.

Holder: Despite Grand Jury Decision Not Indict, DOJ Investigation Into Ferguson Case Still Ongoing

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement late last night about the Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson on charges for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Holder reminded the public that despite the Grand Jury decision, a separate Department of Justice investigation is ongoing. 

“While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, the Justice Department’s investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown remains ongoing. Though we have shared information with local prosecutors during the course of our investigation, the federal inquiry has been independent of the local one from the start, and remains so now. Even at this mature stage of the investigation, we have avoided prejudging any of the evidence. And although federal civil rights law imposes a high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted forming premature conclusions," Holder released in a statement.  “Michael Brown’s death was a tragedy. This incident has sparked a national conversation about the need to ensure confidence between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve. While constructive efforts are underway in Ferguson and communities nationwide, far more must be done to create enduring trust. The Department will continue to work with law enforcement, civil rights, faith and community leaders across the country to foster effective relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve and to improve fairness in the criminal justice system overall. In addition, the Department continues to investigate allegations of unconstitutional policing patterns or practices by the Ferguson Police Department.

“Though there will be disagreement with the grand jury's decision not to indict, this feeling should not lead to violence. Those who decide to participate in demonstrations should remember the wishes of Michael Brown's parents, who have asked that remembrances of their son be conducted peacefully. It does not honor his memory to engage in violence or looting. In the coming days, it will likewise be important for local law enforcement authorities to respect the rights of demonstrators, and deescalate tensions by avoiding excessive displays—and uses—of force,” he continued. 

According to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch "members of the [Grand] jury met for 25 days and heard over 70 hours of testimony from over 60 witnesses before reaching their decision. He confirmed Wilson had fired 12 shots at Brown." 

More than 40 FBI agents have been sent to Ferguson by the Department of Justice to investigate the case. 

Last week former FBI Assistant Director Ron Hosko sent a scathing letter to President Obama classifying Holder as "chief among the antagonists" in Ferguson.

Ferguson Rioters Burn Dozens of Businesses to the Ground, Fire Off Hundreds of Gunshots

Last night the long awaited Grand Jury decision in the case of Michael Brown and Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson was released. According to the decision, there was no probable cause to file charges against Officer Wilson and therefore he is exonerated and will not face indictment. 

As a result of the Grand Jury decision not to indict Wilson, rioters took to the streets last night burning down dozens of buildings, looting, throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at police, burning American flags, burning cars, and smashing windows. Small businesses were completely destroyed and burned to the ground.Twenty-nine people were arrested by police. The good news is nobody was killed. 

"It's really unfortunate this evening because we had really planned...and talked about the fact that we were really hoping for peaceful protests and I mean that," St. Louis Police Department Chief Jon Belmar said during a press conference early this morning.

Violent rioting also erupted in Chicago and Oakland. In Washington D.C. more peaceful protestors took to the streets.

Last week Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced a state of emergency ahead of the decision. The National Guard didn't arrive on the scene until early this morning when riots were over.

Obama on Ferguson: 'We Need to Accept This Decision'

Shortly after the decision went public that Officer Darren Wilson would not be facing criminal charges for the murder of teenager Michael Brown, President Obama made some brief remarks at the White House.

“First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law,” he said. “And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry."

“But I join Michael’s parents by asking anyone who protests this decision does so peacefully,” he continued. “Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes.”

He also urged law enforcement officials to exercise “care and restraint” in dealing with any protests that might arise in the coming days, and to recognize that the vast majority of protestors are not trying to stoke racial tensions or cause riots.

He also spoke briefly about the implications of the ruling.

“Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation,” he said. “The fact is that in too many parts of this country a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country, and this is tragic because nobody needs good policing than poor communities with higher crimes rates."

“We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for for Ferguson, this is an issue for America,” he added. “We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the last several decades. I have witnessed that in my own life, and to deny that progress, I think, is to deny America’s capacity for change. But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.”

At which people he spoke directly to the residents of Ferguson.

“To those in Ferguson, there are ways of channelling your concerns constructively, and there are ways of channelling your concerns destructively," he said. “Michael Brown’s parents understand what it means to be constructive.”

“The vast majority of peaceful protestors understand it as well,” he added.

BREAKING: Officer Darren Wilson Will Not Be Charged UPDATE: Officer Wilson Responds

Editor's note: This post has been updated 

After a lengthy deliberation period, the Grand Jury has decided not to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown on any of the charges he potentially faced. The grand jury could have brought charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter against Officer Wilson (via NYT):

St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, at a news conference packed with reporters from around the world. The killing, on a residential street in Ferguson, set off weeks of civil unrest — and a national debate — fueled by protesters’ outrage over what they called a pattern of police brutality against young black men.

The grand jury’s meetings took place over almost three months in a county building in Clayton, Mo., outside St. Louis. Two assistant county prosecutors, Sheila Whirley and Kathi Alizadeh, presented the evidence.

Mr. McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor, directed his staff to present “absolutely everything” to the grand jury, meaning that the jurors would see and hear more evidence than they would have normally.

He was under considerable pressure in the case, facing widespread calls to recuse himself and be replaced by a special prosecutor after opponents cited what they called flawed investigations in the past involving police officers.

McCulloch said that all transcripts and audio recording, including the one featuring the final 10 shots fired by Officer Brown, would be released. He also stressed how the 12 jurors poured their “hearts and souls” into this case when presented all the evidence, put their lives on hold, and stayed past their pre-determined time to resolve this case. He also mentioned that there were African-American witnesses that saw Michael Brown charging at Officer Wilson at the time of his death.

All interviews were recorded; some witness accounts were discredited since it was determined that they weren’t present at the scene of Michael Brown’s death. They were either running for cover or reiterating what they heard from around their respective neighborhoods.

In other cases, McCulloch said some witnesses made “statements inconsistent with other statements they had made and also conflicting with the physical evidence. Some were completely refuted by the physical evidence.”

He noted that no perjury charges would be filed against those whose witness accounts ended up being inaccurate.One of those inaccuracies was the report that Brown was shot in the back by Wilson; the autopsy results found no gunshot wounds on Brown’s back.

Officer Wilson fired a total of 12 shots; Brown sustained his first wound in his hand, and the last was the shot to his head, according to McCulloch.

As for how the jurors voted, we don’t know if it was unanimous; that information is kept secret.

Officer Wilson has released a statement via his legal team on the Grand Jury’s decision:

Today, a St. Louis County grand jury released its decision that no charges would be filed in the case involving Officer Darren Wilson. From the onset, we have maintained and the grand jury agreed that Officer Wilson’s action on August 9 were in accordance with the laws and regulations that govern the procedures of an officer.

In a case of this magnitude, a team of prosecutors rightfully presented evidence to this St. Louis County grand jury. This group of citizens, drawn at random from the community, listened to witnesses and heard all the evidence in the case. 

Based on the evidence and witness testimony, the grand jury collectively determined there was no basis for criminal charges against Officer Wilson.

Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions. Officer Wilson followed his training and followed the law.

We recognize that many people will want to second-guess the grand jury’s decision. We would encourage anyone who wants to express an opinion do so in a respectful and peaceful manner.

On a side note, Officer Wilson would like to thank those who have stood by his side throughout the process. This continued support is greatly appreciated by Officer Wilson and his family.

Moving forward, any commentary on this matter will be done in the appropriate venue and not through the media.

Michael Brown’s family released this statement on the decision:

UPDATE: NAACP responds:

From Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President and CEO:

“The NAACP stands with citizens and communities who are deeply disappointed that the grand jury did not indict Darren Wilson for the tragic death of Michael Brown, Jr. We stand committed to continue our fight against racial profiling, police brutality and the militarization of local authorities. The death of Michael Brown and actions by the Ferguson Police Department is a distressing symptom of the untested and overaggressive policing culture that has become commonplace in communities of color all across the country. We will remain steadfast in our fight to pass the End Racial Profiling federal legislation. And we stand in solidarity with peaceful protesters and uphold that their civil rights not be violated as both demonstrators and authorities observe the “rules of engagement.” The grand jury’s decision does not mean a crime was not committed in Ferguson, Missouri, nor does it mean we are done fighting for Michael Brown, Jr. At this difficult hour, we commend the courage and commitment of Michael Brown's family, as well as local and national coalition partners."

UPDATE II: Photos of Officer Wilson after Michael Brown shooting have been released.

UPDATE III: Via RebelPundit, video of Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, reacting to the grand jury’s decision to not indict Officer Wilson over the death of her son. [WARNING: Strong language]

UPDATE IV: President Obama held a presser on the Ferguson grand jury decision at 10pm last night. As Dan wrote, Obama said,"we need to accept that this decision." He also said, "we are a nation built on the rule of law."

DUDE: Prior to the McCulloch's presser detailing the grand jury's decision, CNN contributor Donna Brazile said that Michael Brown was "shot and murdered."