Satanic Temple Approved For Capitol Holiday Display

Satanic Temple Approved For Capitol Holiday Display

A Satanic holiday display approved to be shown in the Florida Capitol. (Courtesy: Satanic Temple)

A Satanic holiday display approved to be shown in the Florida Capitol. (Courtesy: Satanic Temple)

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — Florida’s Capitol will have a new holiday decoration this year.  The Satanic Temple will be among its nativity scenes and secular presentations.

It’s for Festivus, a non-commercial festival “for the rest of us,” is close to coming back as a 6-foot stack of empty beer cans.

The Florida Department of Management Services this week approved the proposed holiday display from the Satanic Temple, which a year ago was rejected because the agency said its proposal was “grossly offensive.”

The temple’s entry was one of five displays that got approval to be put up in the first-floor rotunda of the Capitol for the end-of-year holiday period.

Two additional requested displays, including one to mark the sitcom-created Festivus holiday, are pending final approval.

The state agency offered no explanation with its approval of the displays.

John Tupps, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, deferred comment to the department.

“DMS makes the rules for the Capitol,” Tupps said.

Lucien Greaves, spokesman for the Satanic Temple, said in an email that “the difference seems to be in the fact that this time around we arrived with lawyers.”

The temple, which threatened to sue after being rejected last year but never took action, is scheduled to put up its display Dec. 22.

The approved display will banner the phrase “Happy holidays from the Satanic Temple” atop a diorama of an angel falling into hell.

“We hope that, this holiday season, everybody can put their religious differences aside and respect that the celebratory spirit of responsible hedonism is available to all,” Greaves said in the email.

Pam Olsen, who is president of the Florida Prayer Network and also submitted the application for an approved nativity scene for the International House of Prayer Tallahassee, said she doesn’t have a problem with the others putting up displays. However, she questioned the motives of people who again are putting up displays in reaction to the Florida Prayer Network’s introduction of a nativity scene into the Capitol last year.

“This is not a religious endorsement by our state government. It’s freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and we will all be up there,” Olsen said. “But are they really putting them up to wish everyone a happy holiday from the atheists and the Satanists, or are they up there to protest baby Jesus?”

Last year, a nativity joined a Hanukkah menorah and Christmas trees that had been displayed for years on the first floor of the Capitol.

Department of Management Services spokesman Ben Wolf said in an email the state agency is waiting for Deerfield Beach resident Chaz Stevens, the sponsor of the Festivus pole, and the American Atheists of Tallahassee, to select the seven-day period for their displays to be set up.

Stevens, whose irreverent display made from Pabst Blue Ribbon cans went up last year to make a point about the need for a separation between church and state, said Wednesday he intends to ask for his display to go up Dec. 15, the same day the Florida Prayer Network’s nativity scene can be put up.

“The proud tradition continues forward for another year,” Stevens said Wednesday. “I’m trying to be just a little more professional this year. I’m going on Craigslist to see if I can find a mariachi band to bring along.”

Festivus is a “holiday” created for the TV sitcom “Seinfeld” as a non-commercial festival “for the rest of us” in the Christmas and year-end holiday season.

The atheist group, meanwhile, plans a poster that says “Celebrate the true meaning of Xmas,” and offers random words that include “charity,” “family,” “Rockettes,” “hot chocolate,” and “Chinese food.”

The state agency also approved a “Happy Winter Solstice” banner from the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and an entry from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The spaghetti monster, which is more often associated with opposition to the introduction of creationism and intelligent design as science in public schools than the year-end holidays, last year was represented by a pile of shredded paper on an office chair.

A change by the Department of Management Services from a year ago is that displays are being limited to seven days, rather than being given open-ended dates to go up and come down.

There is also a minimum fine of $100 for groups that don’t remove their displays on time.

‘Duck Dynasty’ Star: ‘If We Don’t Turn To God At A Pretty Rapid Clip, We’re Going To Lose The United States Of America’

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‘Duck Dynasty’ Star: ‘If We Don’t Turn To God At A Pretty Rapid Clip, We’re Going To Lose The United States Of America’

"Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson greets fans in the Duck Commander Compound at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

“Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson greets fans in the Duck Commander Compound at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Republicans are poised for successful midterm elections, but many of the party’s most conservative activists are looking ahead to something bigger.

“We need to save this country in 2016,” Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus told the opening session of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on Thursday.

The annual event has grown into an opportunity for rising GOP stars to address some of the most conservative rank-and-file party faithful who influence the presidential nomination process.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal kicked of the list of White House hopefuls, delighting delegates by skewering President Barack Obama as “the most ideologically liberal” and “most incompetent president of our lifetimes.” Delegates will hear Friday and Saturday from tea party hero Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, 2012 presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and others.

Jindal previewed what his presidential campaign pitch might look like, should he run, explaining his statewide private school tuition voucher program, privatization of the state’s public hospital system and a series of tax cuts as examples of a conservative renaissance in his state.

Jindal noted that the Obama administration sued unsuccessfully to block the tuition program, a move the governor called “cynical, immoral, hypocritical.” He also used some barbs at Obama to take indirect swipes at some of his potential White House rivals like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

“We’re watching on-the-job training,” Jindal said, because “we have a president who’d never run anything before.”

Governors, he said, make the best presidents, pointing to Republican Ronald Reagan and Democrat Bill Clinton.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made a surprise appearance, helping introduce Phil Robertson, patriarch of cable television’s “Duck Dynasty.” Robertson has become a cultural icon for many conservative because of his outspoken Christian faith and commentary on sexuality, including opposition to same-sex marriage.

He mostly stayed clear of partisan politics. He blasted separation of church and state and called abortion a “blight” on society. He drew applause and shouts of “Amen” in calling for a national Christian revival and describing himself as a “Christocrat.”

“If we don’t turn to God at a pretty rapid clip,” he said, “we’re going to lose the United States of America.”

Neither Rubio nor Paul is scheduled to speak at the three-day gathering. Two of Jindal’s fellow governors — Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin — also are skipping it.

The conference comes as Republicans campaign to win complete control of Capitol Hill for the final two years of Obama’s tenure. The GOP is favored to retain its House majority and has a strong chance of winning a Senate majority to control all of Capitol Hill for the final two years of Obama’s term.

But delegates here, many of them festooned in red, white and blue, were brimming with talk of 2016.

While Priebus joined in the cheerleading, the chairman reprised his frequent call for the party to get better at the nuts and bolts of campaigning — from corralling a free-for-all primary process to reaching into minority communities that overwhelmingly support Democrats — before even thinking about who the 2016 nominee should be.

“We have a tale of two parties,” Priebus said. “We have a midterm party that doesn’t lose, and we have a presidential party that’s having a hard time winning.”

He noted obvious voter demographics that show Republican nominees must attract more young and minority voters. But public opinion polls also suggest that the party’s conservative positions — and its candidates’ emphasis — on issues like immigration, abortion and same-sex marriage are liabilities with some of the very groups they want to win over.

The chairman avoided saying the party should change any of its positions. “It’s not my job to write legislation,” he said, though he added later that “we could emphasize different things,” such as expanding school choice or loan programs for minority entrepreneurs. Whatever the policy, he said, “we have to show up and make the argument,” rather than concede swaths of the electorate.

Roy Luke, a retired Air Force master sergeant from Augusta, Ga., said the party’s problem is “more about image than substance.”

Luke argued that younger voters are eager to hear economic growth arguments from Republicans, while religiously conservative Latinos agree with the party’s socially conservative stances. “These are all Republicans,” he said, emphatically. “They just don’t know it yet.”

 

Feds released hundreds of immigrant murderers, drunk drivers, sex-crimes convicts

Feds released hundreds of immigrant murderers, drunk drivers, sex-crimes convicts

STORY TOPICS
  • Politics
  • Social Issues
  • Barack Obama
  • Jessica Vaughan

 

 

Immigration officials knowingly released dozens of murderers and thousands of drunken drivers back into the U.S. in 2013, according to Obama administration statistics that could undercut the president’s argument that he is trying to focus on the most serious criminals in his immigration enforcement.

Among the 36,000 immigrants whom U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released from custody last year there were 116 with convictions for homicide, 43 for negligent manslaughter, 14 for voluntary manslaughter and one with a conviction classified by ICE as “homicide-willful kill-public official-gun.”

The immigrants were in deportation proceedings, meaning ICE was trying to remove them from the country and could have held them in detention but released them anyway, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, which published the numbers Monday. The Washington Times also obtained the data.

“This would be considered the worst prison break in American history, except it was sanctioned by the president and perpetrated by our own immigration officials,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican. “Theadministration’s actions are outrageous. They willfully and knowingly put the interests of criminal immigrants before the safety and security of the American people.”

The data raised thorny questions about how the government decides which immigrants to detain and which it will release as they await court hearings and final action on deportation.

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Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said the numbers undercut the Obama administration’s argument that it is trying to keep its enforcement efforts targeted at dangerous criminals.

“We keep hearing from theadministration that they are focused like a laser on enforcement against the worst of the worst, convicted criminals, as their top priority. On the other hand, they are releasing, at a rate of about 100 a day, aliens from their custody with criminal convictions, and many of them are serious criminal convictions,” she said.

In a statement, ICE said many of those it released were subject to electronic monitoring, posting bond or having to check in with officers.

In other cases, the agency was required to release immigrants because of court decisions, including a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that found immigrants whose home countries refused to take them back could not be held for more than six months.

ICE said 75 percent of the convicted murderers released in 2013 were considered “mandatory releases” in compliance with court decisions.

“Others, typically those with less serious offenses, were released as a discretionary matter after career law enforcement officers made a judgment regarding the priority of holding the individual, given ICE’s resources, and prioritizing the detention and removal of individuals who pose a risk to public safety or national security,” ICE said.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will have to answer questions.

Mr. Goodlatte and Mr. Smith asked ICE for the release numbers but said the agency never turned them over.

“These criminals should be locked up, not roaming our streets,” the lawmakers said.

ICE has told Congress it doesn’t need to hold as many immigrants in detention. In its budget request this year, ICE asked that Congress fund slightly more than 30,500 detention beds a day, down from the 34,000 set in current law.

 

NY Times’ whitewash of Benghazi attack aids Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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NY Times’ whitewash of Benghazi attack aids Hillary Clinton in 2016 

By Ben Wolfgang

The Washington Times

Sunday, December 29, 2013

One of the biggest hurdles in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s potential path to the White House may have become easier to clear.

An extensive report Sunday in The New York Times casts doubt on Republican claims that al Qaeda played a key role in last year’s deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The article lends badly needed credence to the White House version of events and might remove some of the blame from the former secretary of state’s shoulders as she gears up for a 2016 presidential run.

A top House Republican went so far Sunday as to suggest that there may be a coordinated effort to help Mrs. Clinton — who is widely thought to be seeking the Democratic presidential nomination and leads her Republican counterparts in most polls — escape the shadow of Benghazi.

“I find the timing odd,” Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said of The New York Times piece and its political ramifications during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

Although he wouldn’t go much further, Mr. Rogers said, “I find it interesting that there is this rollout of stories” related to Benghazi.

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The New York Times report says al Qaeda did not infiltrate Benghazi and backed up the initial White House claim that the event largely was spontaneous, wasn’t planned by al Qaeda’s central leaders and was fueled at least in part by outrage over anti-Islamic videos produced in the U.S.

The piece makes clear that the facts on the ground in Benghazi were murkier than what has been portrayed by both sides, and that neither Republicans’ nor the administration’s account is entirely accurate.

Democrats quickly used the report to dispute Mr. RogersRep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and others who have cited Benghazi as evidence that President Obama has not dismantled al Qaeda to the degree he claimed en route to winning re-election last year.

“I hope Chairman Issa and others have learned a lesson from this. Chairman Issa and members of that committee crusaded for over a year on what was really a fairy tale, claiming that the administration knew all along al Qaeda was involved and wouldn’t admit it,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, Texas Democrat and a member of the House Armed Services CommitteeMr. Castro appeared on NBC’s“Meet the Press” on Sunday.

As secretary of state at the time of the assault that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Mrs. Clinton has been a key target of Republicans who accuse the administration of failing to secure American assets and personnel in Benghazi and willfully hiding the truth for their own political benefit.

The reporting, to some degree, could shield Mrs. Clinton from charges that she participated in what critics have called a cover-up.

While not targeting Mrs. Clinton by name, Republicans on Sunday said parts of the article conflict directly with information in other reports and the sworn testimony of Americans on the ground in Benghazi.

“People from this administration, career professionals, have said under oath there was no evidence of any kind of reaction to a video and, in fact, this was a planned attack that came quickly. That’s the evidence we have,” Mr. Issa said on “Meet the Press,” referring to testimony from U.S. diplomats who described the anti-Islamic video as a nonevent in Libya at the time.

Other Republicans also disputed the notion that al Qaeda wasn’t involved. They noted that terrorist groups with clear connections to al Qaeda took part in the assault.

Even some lawmakers sympathetic to the administration say it’s misleading to suggest that al Qaeda had nothing to do with the incident.

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Intelligence indicates al Qaeda was involved,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and a member of the House intelligence committee.

Despite the latest report, Mr. Schiff said, he does not believe the State Department and Mrs. Clinton specifically are entirely absolved.

“I don’t think The New York Times report is designed to exonerate the security lapses within the State Department that left our people vulnerable,” he said in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

Obama’s call to close Vatican embassy is ‘slap in the face’ to Roman Catholics.

Obama’s call to close Vatican embassy is ‘slap in the face’ to Roman Catholics 

People crowd St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, on occasion of the celebration of the Easter mass Sunday, March 31, 2013. Pope Francis is celebrating his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St. Peter's Square, which is packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists and Romans. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

People crowd St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on occasion of the celebration of the Easter mass Sunday, March 31, 2013. Pope Francis is celebrating his first Easter Sunday Mass as pontiff in St. Peter’s Square, which is packed by joyous pilgrims, tourists and Romans. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

By Cheryl K. Chumley

The Washington Times

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Obama administration, in what’s been called an egregious slap in the face to the Vatican, has moved to shut down the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See — a free-standing facility — and relocate offices onto the grounds of the larger American Embassy in Italy.

The new offices will be in a separate building on the property, Breitbart reported.


And while U.S. officials are touting the relocation as a security measure that’s a cautionary reaction to last year’s attacks on America’s facility in Benghazi, several former American envoys are raising the red flag.

It’s a “massive downgrade of U.S.-Vatican ties,” said former U.S. Ambassador James Nicholson in the National Catholic Reporter. “It’s turning this embassy into a stepchild of the embassy to Italy. The Holy See is a pivot point for international affairs and a major listening post for the United States, and … [it’s] an insult to American Catholics and to the Vatican.”

Mr. Nicholson — whose views were echoed by former envoys Francis RooneyMary Ann GlendonRaymond Flynn and Thomas Melady — also called the justification for closing the existing facility a “smokescreen,” Breitbart reported.

“That’s like saying people get killed on highways because they drive cars on them,” he said in the report. “We’re not a pauper nation … if we want to secure an embassy, we certainly can.”

Moreover, the existing facility has “state of the art” security, he said.

Mr. Flynn, meanwhile, said the administration’s announcement reflects a hostility toward the Catholic Church.

“It’s not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it’s also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See,” he said in the National Catholic Reporter. “[There’s no] diplomatic or political benefit to the United States” from the relocation at all, he added.

Catholic Vote, a publication for the Church community, called the move “an unmistakable slap in the face” that clearly communicates that the United States cares little for the diplomatic facility.

And Mr. Nicholson went on, as Breitbart reported: “It’s another manifestation of the antipathy of this administration both to Catholics and to the Vatican — and to Christians in the Middle East. This is a key post for intermediation in so many sovereignties but particularly in the Middle East. This is anything but a good time to diminish the stature of this post. To diminish the stature of this post is to diminish its influence.”

IRS officials were acutely aware that Obama wanted crackdown on tea party groups.

IRS officials thought Obama wanted crackdown on tea party groups, worried about negative press.

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By Stephen Dinan

The Washington Times

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

  • Lois Lerner, head of the Internal Revenue Service unit that decides whether to grant tax-exempt status, was put on administrative leave after she declared her innocence but refused to answer congressional questions about the targeting. (Associated Press)Enlarge PhotoLois Lerner, head of the Internal Revenue Service unit that decides whether … more >

IRS employees were “acutely” aware in 2010 that President Obama wanted to crack down on conservative organizations and were egged into targeting tea party groups by press reports mocking the emerging movement, according to an interim report being circulated Tuesday by House investigators.

The report, by staffers for Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, quoted two Internal Revenue Service officials saying the tea party applications were singled out in the targeting program that has the agency under investigation because “they were likely to attract media attention.”

In the report, the investigators do not find evidence that IRS employees received orders from politicians to target the tea party, and agency officials deny overt bias or political motives.

But the report says the IRS was at least taking cues from political leaders and designed special policies to review tea party applications, including dispatching some of them to Washington to be vetted by headquarters.

“As prominent politicians publicly urged the IRS to take action on tax-exempt groups engaged in legal campaign intervention activities, the IRS treated tea party applications differently,” the staff report concludes. “Applications filed by tea party groups were identified and grouped due to media attention surrounding the existence of the tea party in general.”

That finding contradicts Democrats on Capitol Hill, who argue that some liberal groups also were given special scrutiny, thus showing there was neither a witch hunt for conservatives nor political pressure from the White House.

“The fact is that not a single piece of evidence has been unearthed that suggests there was any political motivation or outside involvement,” Democratic staffers on the House Ways and Means Committee said in a memo Tuesday outlining the state of the investigation. “Republicans, however, believe that if they continue to repeat their baseless accusations of a ‘White House enemies’ list, it will become true.”

For years, Republicans in Congress charged that the IRS was targeting specific groups, but top agency officials denied it.

But four months ago, with an inspector general’s report about to be released, the IRS carefully staged a question at a conference so officials could reveal that they had been treating tea party applications differently.

Several congressional committees have since opened investigations including open hearings, document requests and depositions of agency employees.

The latest oversight report is meant to take stock of where the investigation stands and to lay out what Republicans know and what they suspect. The report says the conclusions are preliminary and that tens of thousands of pages of documents have yet to be examined.

In one of the key findings, investigators said negative press coverage of the tea party was one reason why the IRS gave the groups special scrutiny.

“It was my understanding that the reason they were identified is because they were likely to attract media attention,” Steven Grodnitzky, one of the employees in the exempt organizations division, told investigators.

Another supervisory employee in Washington, Ronald Shoemaker, also said press attention helped shape IRS policies, telling investigators that media attention to those cases “was the basis” for designating them as significant cases requiring special examination.

The Republican oversight report traces the growing pressure on the IRS to act, beginning with Mr. Obama’s criticism of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in his 2010 State of the Union address to calls from top members of Congress for the IRS to give special scrutiny to tea party applications.

Obama, convinced we are gullible introduces focus on economy.

Obama’s latest economic push has familiar feel

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FILE - This July 19, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama speaking to reporters in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington. Drawing renewed attention to the economy, Obama will return this week to an Illinois college where he once spelled out a vision for an expanded and strengthened middle class as a freshman U.S. senator, long before the Great Recession would test his presidency. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)
FILE – This July 19, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama speaking to reporters in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington. Drawing renewed attention to the economy, Obama will return this week to an Illinois college where he once spelled out a vision for an expanded and strengthened middle class as a freshman U.S. senator, long before the Great Recession would test his presidency. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)

WASHINGTON (AP) — If President Barack Obama’s new focus on the economy sounds familiar, that’s because he’s done it before.

Since the first year of his presidency, Obama has been launching — and re-launching — initiatives on the economy. Some came with new policy proposals, others with catchy slogans.

Remember 2011’s “Winning the Future” campaign? Or the “We Can’t Wait” initiatives that followed later that year? Just a few months ago, Obama was headlining the “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour.”

So far there’s no slogan attached to the White House’s latest initiative, which kicks off Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill. The president’s advisers are billing his remarks as a major address on the economy, though no new initiatives are expected to be announced. However, aides say there will be some fresh policy proposals in a series of follow-up speeches planned through September, most of which will be narrowly targeted on issues like housing, retirement security and expanding access to education.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama’s repeated attempts to orient his public agenda on the economy should serve as a reminder that “the president has always been focused on these issues.”

“That doesn’t mean we don’t need to continue to remind people that improving the economic situation in America is the principle reason why our fellow citizens elect and send people to Washington,” Carney said.

But congressional Republicans, who continue to be a roadblock for many of the president’s economic proposals, dismissed the White House’s new public relations push as a retread of old ideas.

“We’ve seen this song and dance before,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “Whether it’s his health care law, his job-destroying energy policies, or the mountain of regulations piling up, it’s the president’s own policies that are responsible for this new normal of weak economic growth and high unemployment.”

Still, the timing of Obama’s latest economic initiative underscores the degree to which jobs and growth have been overshadowed in Washington since the president began his second term. That’s been driven in part by the White House, which has invested significant time on other areas of the president’s agenda, including the failed effort to enact stricter gun laws and the push for immigration reform, which succeeded in the Senate but faces an uncertain future in the House.

A series of foreign policy crises, like the Syrian civil war and Egyptian coup, have also competed for the White House’s attention. So have a flurry of recent controversies, including the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of political groups, the Justice Department’s seizure of journalists’ phone records, and renewed attention on the investigation into the deadly attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

All the while, the economy has slowly but steadily improved. The housing market is coming back, the stock market is on the rise and consumer confidence is near its highest levels of Obama’s presidency. Nationwide unemployment is also falling, though at 7.6 percent, it still remains high.

But a new round of fiscal deadlines threaten to upend that progress, adding urgency to the White House’s desire to get the economy back on Washington’s radar — while at the same time trying to get the public to side with the president’s economic vision.

The potential fiscal showdown in September will focus on the debt ceiling and the automatic federal budget cuts that kicked in earlier this year. Obama wants to end the cuts before they extend into the next fiscal year. And some Republicans want more deficit reduction in exchange for raising the nation’s borrowing limit, a bargain Obama says he would not back.

Obama’s aides say that while Wednesday’s address and subsequent events will touch on the looming fiscal fights, they say they do not see the speech as a legislative negotiating tactic. Nor will the president lay out an economic “to-do” list for Congress, reflecting the White House’s recognition that many of the president’s proposals would almost certainly face opposition on Capitol Hill, particularly in the Republican-led House.

And that dynamic, just like Obama’s repeated economic PR campaigns, may again leave the public with a feeling that they’ve been here before.

Rep. Darrell Issa issues Benghazi subpoenas to State Department.

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Rep. Darrell Issa issues Benghazi subpoenas to State Department.

By Shaun Waterman

The Washington Times

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The House Republican chairman investigating last year’s terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, has subpoenaed four State Department officials, saying the department was stalling on efforts to interview them.

In a statement Monday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa of California said the four led offices where the State Department’s report into the attack, called anAccountability Review Board, had found that deficiencies contributed to a lack of security.

The board found that State Department leaders in Washington allowed the temporary facility in Benghazi to be occupied even though it did not meet security standards and then ignored pleas for additional security from diplomats on the ground.

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The Board’s report identified four mid-level officials as failing to show leadership in the run up to the attacks.

Republicans have claimed that the report let senior officials, including then-Secretary of State Hilary R. Clinton, off the hook.

In a letter about the subpoenas to Secretary of State John F. Kerryreleased Monday, Mr. Issa detailed his efforts since April 29 to arrange interviews with the four officials and others, stating his investigators “have only been able to interview one of the 13 individuals with whom they requested interviews and the meeting was arranged without theState Department’s help.”

“These persistent delays create the appearance that the Department is dragging its feet to slow down the Committee’s investigation,” Mr. Issa wrote. “It does not require weeks of preparation to answer questions truthfully.”

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He called the delay “irresponsible.”

Mr. Issa stated that the committee wants to hold a public hearing to examine the findings of the Accountability Review Board “as soon as possible.”

After issuing subpoenas last month, investigators arranged voluntary interviews with the co-chairs of the board — retired career diplomat Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, retired Adm. Michael Mullen.

Writing about Monday’s subpoenas, Mr. Issa said they were not the fault of the witnesses he was serving.

“By its very nature,” Mr. Issa wrote, “a subpoena can carry the implication that the witness is being uncooperative. In this case, that is an unfortunate and misleading consequence since it is the department, and not the individuals themselves, that appears to be dictating the timetable.”

The four officials, according to Mr. Issa, are Eric Boswell, who was assistant secretary at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security; Scott Bultrowicz, former principal deputy assistant secretary in that bureau and director of the Diplomatic Security Service; Elizabeth Dibble, former principal deputy assistant secretary, at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; and her boss, Elizabeth Jones, the bureau’s acting assistant secretary.

The State Department had no immedtiate comment.

Mario’s note:  Benghazi is back in the news!  It needs to be.   From top to bottom, it is a scandal that far outdistances the others that are connected to the White House.  Benghazi speaks to the arrogance, incompetence and indifference that endanger our freedom and the future of our nation.  Every believer, regardless of race has a vested interest in Benghazi.

If you are praying for the American Constitution to be reinforced, if you want the machinery of socialism to be stopped then the Benghazi investigation is very strategic.  Getting to the truth of what happened and why is the key to undoing the great deception.

Gay marriage protest to draw 200,000 thousand to Paris.

Gay marriage protest

Gay marriage protest to draws 200,000 to Paris.

Up to 200,000 expected to take part in demonstration as France becomes 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage.

Anti-gay marriage activist Frigide Barjot welcomes protesters at the Gare de Lyon. Barjot herself is not taking part. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of people registered a final, furious protest against same-sex marriage on Sunday, days before the first wedding ceremony under a new law.

At least 150,000 protesters converged on Paris, marshalled by more than 4,500 police who were deployed after the government warned of a risk of violence and disruption.

Riot police evicted about a dozen far-right activists who used ladders to climb on to the roof of the Socialist party headquarters and unfurled a banner saying “Hollande resign”.

On Saturday night 50 people were arrested after chaining themselves to metal barriers they had placed in the middle of the Champs Elysées and firing smoke canisters. A van carrying masks, banners and smoke bombs was seized by police.

The new law – the key social reform of the Socialist president, François Hollande – was officially adopted last week, making France the 14th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. The first wedding will take place between two gay activists in Montpellier on Wednesday.

French anti-gay marriage activist Virginie Tellene, aka Frigide Barjot

But the reform has sparked months of bitter political debate and the biggest rightwing street demonstrations in decades, including hundreds of arrests after clashes between police and demonstrators in the runup to the parliamentary vote. Rights groups have recorded a sharp increase in homophobic acts across France.

Protesters from the anti-same-sex marriage movement converged in their thousands at the Invalides in Paris, while a more hardline demonstration led by Catholic traditionalists gathered near the Opera. Nationalist youth groups attended the latter demonstration, with one calling for a “national revolution”.

Among the crowds, one demonstrator led a donkey carrying a placard: “I’m an ass, I voted Hollande.”

Divisions over the law continue to cause tensions on the French right, with the government warning of a resurgence in far-right groups and a small number of “ultras” on the fringes.

The most radical protesters have grouped together under the banner Printemps Français (French spring), a loose grouping of traditionalists and far-right associations, which the French interior ministry last week threatened to outlaw.

Tensions were exacerbated by the suicide last Tuesday of a far-right essayist, Dominique Venner, who shot himself at the altar of Notre Dame cathedral after leaving a blogpost railing against immigration and the “vile” law on same-sex marriage.

The comedian Virginie Tellene, known by her stage name Frigide Barjot, who has led the anti-gay marriage movement and been its figurehead, did not attend the demonstration in order to defend what she called “peace and freedom of expression”. She is under police protection having complained of death threats and pressure from the extreme rightwing.

Jean-François Copé, leader of the rightwing UMP party, keen to capitalise on the protest movement in the runup to next year’s local elections, attended the demonstration in Paris after other key figures in his party, including the former foreign minister Alain Juppé, had cautioned against it.

The prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, attacked UMP politicians for supporting the demonstration, warning that they were taking “a heavy responsibility” in “sparking tension and radicalisation”.

Christian Jacob, head of the UMP group in parliament, who was at the rally, said: “Even though the law has been voted in, it doesn’t mean we can’t contest it.”

The IRS Scandal Started at the Top

Strassel: The IRS Scandal Started at the Top

The bureaucrats at the Internal Revenue Service did exactly what the president said was the right and honorable thing to do.

  • By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL

Columnist's name
Was the White House involved in the IRS’s targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an “independent” agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.But that’s not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn’t need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he’d like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. “He put a target on our backs, and he’s now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?” asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.

 

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Getty ImagesAt the White House, President Obama addresses the IRS scandal, May 15.

Mr. VanderSloot is the Obama target who in 2011 made a sizable donation to a group supporting Mitt Romney. In April 2012, an Obama campaign website named and slurred eight Romney donors. It tarred Mr. VanderSloot as a “wealthy individual” with a “less-than-reputable record.” Other donors were described as having been “on the wrong side of the law.”

This was the Obama version of the phone call—put out to every government investigator (and liberal activist) in the land.

Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot’s divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.

The last of these audits was only concluded in recent weeks. Not one resulted in a fine or penalty. But Mr. VanderSloot has been waiting more than 20 months for a sizable refund and estimates his legal bills are $80,000. That figure doesn’t account for what the president’s vilification has done to his business and reputation.

The Obama call for scrutiny wasn’t a mistake; it was the president’s strategy—one pursued throughout 2012. The way to limit Romney money was to intimidate donors from giving. Donate, and the president would at best tie you to Big Oil or Wall Street, at worst put your name in bold, and flag you as “less than reputable” to everyone who worked for him: the IRS, the SEC, the Justice Department. The president didn’t need a telephone; he had a megaphone.

The same threat was made to conservative groups that might dare play in the election. As early as January 2010, Mr. Obama would, in his state of the union address, cast aspersions on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, claiming that it “reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests” (read conservative groups).

The president derided “tea baggers.” Vice President Joe Biden compared them to “terrorists.” In more than a dozen speeches Mr. Obama raised the specter that these groups represented nefarious interests that were perverting elections. “Nobody knows who’s paying for these ads,” he warned. “We don’t know where this money is coming from,” he intoned.

In case the IRS missed his point, he raised the threat of illegality: “All around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates . . . And they don’t have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation.”

Short of directly asking federal agencies to investigate these groups, this is as close as it gets. Especially as top congressional Democrats were putting in their own versions of phone calls, sending letters to the IRS that accused it of having “failed to address” the “problem” of groups that were “improperly engaged” in campaigns. Because guess who controls that “independent” agency’s budget?

The IRS is easy to demonize, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It got its heading from a president, and his party, who did in fact send it orders—openly, for the world to see. In his Tuesday press grilling, no question agitated White House Press Secretary Jay Carney more than the one that got to the heart of the matter: Given the president’s “animosity” toward Citizens United, might he have “appreciated or wanted the IRS to be looking and scrutinizing those . . .” Mr. Carney cut off the reporter with “That’s a preposterous assertion.”

Preposterous because, according to Mr. Obama, he is “outraged” and “angry” that the IRS looked into the very groups and individuals that he spent years claiming were shady, undemocratic, even lawbreaking. After all, he expects the IRS to “operate with absolute integrity.” Even when he does not.