Jon Stewart: Why does the President gets his information by watching TV?

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has a series of video clips of President Obama saying he did not know what was going on in his administration. The President states repeatedly that he learned about it from watching the news. From Fast and Furious to the IRS targeting Christian, Jewish and Conservative groups, the President had no clue.

This theme was repeated by David Axelrod. Jonathan Easley from The Hill reports, “Former Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod on Wednesday defended the president, saying it was ‘impossible’ he could have known about the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups because the government is too big.”

“White House spokesman Jay Carney has said that nobody in the White House knew about or influenced the IRS’s policy, and that the president found out about the transgression through the news media at the same time as the public. The Justice Department on Tuesday opened a criminal investigation into the matter,” notes Easley.

Watch Jon Stewart’s monologue:

Center for Immigration Studies calls Rubio’s amnesty ad “deceptive” (Video)

Jon Feere, the Legal Policy Analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, reviews an ad released by the “Gang of Eight” featuring Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). The ad is playing nationwide, including in Florida.

Feere states, “The minute-long advertisement calls the proposal ‘conservative immigration reform’ and attempts to make amnesty appealing to Republican voters. Partisan politics aside, the amnesty ad is misleading on a number of counts…”

The ad was produced by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who created FWD.us, an advocacy group aimed at promoting amnesty. One of the group’s offshoots is “Americans for a Conservative Direction“, which is cited at the end of the ad.

Americans for a Conservative Direction’s board members include: Haley Barbour: former Governor Haley Barbour served as the 62nd governor of Mississippi from 2004 to 2012 and served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee in the mid ’90s; Sally Bradshaw: former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Chief of Staff from 1999-2001, and served as a Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project; Joel Kaplan: currently Vice President of US Public Policy at Facebook, Joel also served as Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George W. Bush; Dan Senor: former chief advisor to Representative Paul Ryan on the Romney-Ryan 2012 campaign; Rob Jesmer: former Executive Director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2008 – 2012.

Below is the ad:

Here is Feere’s analysis of the ad phrase by phrase:

RUBIO: “Anyone who thinks what we have now in immigration is not a problem is fooling themselves. What we have in place today is de facto amnesty.”

Very few Americans believe that we don’t have a serious problem with illegal immigration. It is true that this country is experiencing a de facto amnesty for illegal aliens, and it is largely the result of the Obama administration refusing to enforce immigration laws on the books. The problem is that Rubio wants to turn this “de facto” amnesty into a formal amnesty, and grant millions of law-breakers work permits, driver’s licenses, Social Security accounts, travel documents, and an unknown number of additional state-level benefits. Rubio is trying to help President Obama fulfill his campaign goal of keeping all illegal aliens in the country and giving them benefits reserved for legal residents. If Rubio was actually troubled by the de facto amnesty being advanced by the Obama administration, Rubio would side with the ICE officials who are suing the Obama administration over the president’s effort to prevent them from doing their jobs. Top-ranking ICE official Chris Crane explained the lawsuit to Fox News, here. Mr. Crane’s recent congressional testimony, available here, raises many troubling issues. ICE’s additional concern is that the amnesty bill would make permanent their inability to enforce the law by giving DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano “virtually unlimited discretion” to waive all enforcement of immigration law. If an amnesty is passed, the Obama administration will likely continue to undermine any immigration enforcement provisions in the bill.

ANNOUNCER: “Conservative leaders have a plan, the toughest immigration enforcement measures in the history of the United States.”

The so-called “Gang of Eight” senators who wrote the bill aren’t all “conservative leaders”, unless you consider Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) to fit that description. True, the gang also includes Republican senators, but it is up for debate whether one considers Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to be conservative on immigration. Their immigration report card grades, from the pro-enforcement group NumbersUSA, are troubling: Graham has a “C”, McCain a “D”, and a Flake “C”. This is in contrast to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has an “A+” from NumbersUSA.

The voiceover in the ad also cites a newspaper article for the “toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States” language. This commercial carefully avoided some of the language in the article’s full sentence, particularly the part noting that this bill would allow previously deported illegal aliens to return to the country. The article’s full sentence reads:

The controversial proposal would grant most of the 11 million people here illegally a path to citizenship and give thousands of deported individuals a chance to return, but would also adopt some of the toughest immigration enforcement measures in the history of the United States.

No immigration bill in the history of the United States has ever permitted previously deported illegal aliens to return to the United States to receive citizenship, so it is difficult to see how this news organization concluded that the bill is the “toughest” our country has ever seen. Of course, the article is really claiming that the bill would “adopt some” tough enforcement measures, not that the bill itself is tough.

On closer inspection, many of these measures (noted below) are not as tough as they seem to be.

RUBIO: “They have to pass the background check, they have to be able to pay a registration fee, they have to pay a fine.”

Within six months of the bill’s passage, illegal immigrants would become immediately eligible for legal status, and many of the hoops that illegal immigrants would have to jump through to get such status do not amount to much. It is likely that any illegal immigrants who simply claim to be eligible will be able to avoid deportation, even if they’re already in detention. This is exactly what is already happening under President Obama’s deferred action program. ICE agents are being instructed to release any illegal aliens who claim to be eligible, even if they haven’t filled out an application form. The same situation will unfold under the large-scale amnesty bill. ICE will be virtually handcuffed and will not be able to carry out most enforcement.

To acquire the primary legal status offered under this bill, illegal immigrants would have to undergo a simple background check. But the bill would still grant legal status to illegal immigrants with a significant amount of criminality on their rap sheet. For example, crimes like ID theft and vandalism are not considered serious enough to deny a person status, despite the fact that such crimes create real victims. Specifically, two misdemeanors will not result in legal status being denied and under the bill multiple misdemeanors could be counted as “one” misdemeanor, provided they occur on the same day. Additionally, any problematic history an illegal immigrant has in his home country is unlikely to be uncovered; in a sense, our public safety would depend on the bookkeeping of police departments in the alien’s homeland, and there are many things that Americans consider criminal that are not criminal overseas.

Finally, the government’s capacity to conduct background checks on millions of illegal immigrants is questionable. ICE Union head Chris Crane explained in a video interview with the Daily Caller that there is “no such thing as a background check on a foreign national.” The 1986 amnesty also had background checks, but hundreds of thousands of fraudulent applicants were rubber-stamped. The amnesty granted legal status to someone who used his new status to freely travel to the Middle East to pick up terrorist training and helped lead the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Had we enforced our immigration laws, he would have been removed from the country and the attack might never have occurred.

The recent Boston Marathon bombing should also illustrate the government’s inability to carefully vet backgrounds. The FBI interviewed at least one of the terrorists, his family members, and his neighbors, in addition to analyzing his Internet usage. They apparently found nothing that would have raised a red flag. Despite the fact that DHS estimates there are many problematic foreign-born people living in the United States, the millions of illegal aliens applying for the amnesty will not have nearly as vigorous of a background check as the Boston bombers had, suggesting that some bad people will receive legal status through the bill. As written, the bill would allow known gang members to become U.S. citizens if they simply “renounce” their gang affiliation.

Rubio also claims that illegal aliens applying for the amnesty would have to pay a fee, but there are waivers and no specificity. The bill simply notes that illegal aliens aged 16 and older who want legal status will have to pay a fee “in an amount determined by [DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano]”. While it is unclear how much the fee would be, the bill says it should be enough to cover processing the applications. (See here for David North’s estimate of the size of the fee needed to process applicants properly.) But in the next section, the bill gives Napolitano the power to limit the fee and to exempt “classes of individuals” altogether. With such broad authority granted by Congress, it is unclear whether this fee would apply to most amnesty applicants.

It should also be noted that USCIS already offers waivers for those who cannot afford certain fees — in fact, the Obama administration created a form for such waivers in 2010 — and similar waivers may apply to any future amnesty. To obtain a fee waiver for some existing immigration benefits, an applicant simply must show that they are currently using a welfare program. Currently, 71 percent of illegal alien households with children make use of at least one form of welfare.

Rubio also claims that amnesty applicants would have to pay a fine. A fine is different from a fee and, by definition, a fine is meant to be a punishment for breaking a law. The bill puts the fine at $500 for the initial legal status — not much of a punishment considering the laws that have been broken. This initial status turns the illegal aliens into legal residents and grants them work permits, driver’s licenses, Social Security accounts, and many other benefits. Applicants would have to pay another $500 over the next six years. If a person wants to upgrade from this provisional status to full green card status (and eventual U.S. citizenship), they would have to pay another $1,000 many years down the road. But there are many exceptions. For example, people of any age who claim to have entered before age 16 and have a high school degree or GED would not have to pay either of the $500 fines, nor would they have to pay the $1,000 fine for green card status. Also, all people under 21 years of age, regardless of when they entered and whether they have a high school degree, would be exempted from both of the $500 fines.

Furthermore, it is likely that some pro-amnesty groups will assist applicants in paying the fines — some of which will be using taxpayer-provided funds to do so. The bill would actually grant groups like La Raza $150 million of taxpayer dollars to help illegal aliens apply for the amnesty, and the bill grants them a lot of discretion to decide how to spend the money. In reality, the fine may not be much of a punishment at all — particularly if American taxpayers are the ones footing the bill.

Absent from Rubio’s list is the requirement that illegal aliens pay back taxes. The reason he is no longer citing it is because that provision never made it into the bill. For months Rubio and other amnesty advocates sold the bill on the notion of requiring illegal aliens to pay back taxes for the years they have worked off the books. But it was simply part of an attempt to mislead the public into thinking this bill is tougher than it really is. Only “assessed” taxes have to be paid, and if the IRS doesn’t audit illegal immigrants working off the books — which is won’t — then there will be no “assessed” taxes to pay.

ANNOUNCER: “Border security on steroids. Tough border triggers have no giveaways for law breakers.”

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano Napolitano simply has to submit a plan for border security and a fencing plan within six months of the passage of this bill. As soon as she submits the plans, illegal aliens become eligible for work permits, Social Security accounts, driver’s licenses, travel documents, and countless state-level benefits. Past amnesties show that these benefits are mostly what illegal aliens are looking for; green card status and U.S. citizenship are not priorities for most illegal immigrants. No border security has to be in place for these benefits to be handed out. A proposed amendment to the bill that would have made border security come before these benefits are handed out was rejected by the Senate. Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. Lindsey Graham, two of the alleged “conservative leaders” who helped authored this bill, voted against the amendment along with all of the Democrats.

The “triggers” — border security, an entirely new electronic verification system (to replace E-Verify), and an operational exit-tracking system — are required to be in effect before illegal immigrants can upgrade to a green card. But even this isn’t exactly true.

The bill does provide a significant amount of funding for border security, but it remains unclear how that money would be spent and whether the border would ever actually be secured. The bill requires an “effectiveness rate” of 90 percent and defines such a rate as “the percentage calculated by dividing the number of apprehensions and turn-backs in the sector during a fiscal year by the total number of illegal entries in the sector during such fiscal year.” This equation requires some estimate of the number of missed illegal entries, but the metrics of border security have been up for debate for many years and it’s unclear how such an estimate would be reached. Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council asks, “How are they going to measure effectiveness?” He fears the bills language “will put pressure on Border Patrol management to fudge the number in order to fit political purposes.”

Rubio has said that if effective control of these sections of the border is not met within five years, “it goes to a border commission made up of people that live and have to deal with the border and they will take care of that problem.” But in the bill, the “Southern Border Security Commission” would be made up of six Washington-appointed members (two by the president and four by congressional leaders), plus one from each southern border state (appointed by the governor), and it could do nothing but issue recommendations. But it gets worse. The bill also says that if “litigation or a force majeure” prevents the border from being secured then Secretary Napolitano has the authority to go ahead and issue illegal aliens U.S. citizenship anyhow.

One member of the Gang of Eight has asserted that citizenship for illegal immigrants will not be conditioned on actually having a secure border. Sen. Charles Schumer (R-N.Y.) explained, “We are not using border security as a block to a path to citizenship. This [the trigger] will not be a barrier to giving citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country.”

In other words, there really aren’t any border security triggers at all.

RUBIO: “No federal benefits, no food stamps, no welfare, no Obamacare, they have to prove that they’re gainfully employed.”

Rubio is simply wrong with these assertions. Illegal immigrants are already receiving federal benefits and this bill would do nothing to stop that. This bill would actually extend greater amounts of benefits to illegal immigrants by giving them legal status.

We estimate that 71 percent of illegal immigrant-headed households with children use at least one welfare program. Illegal immigrants generally receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children, but they, not the children, are collecting the benefits, which support the entire family. Illegal immigrant households with children primarily use food assistance and Medicaid, making almost no use of cash or housing assistance. In contrast, legal immigrant households tend to have relatively high use rates for every type of welfare program. It is undeniable that if the amnesty bill becomes law, the legalized illegal immigrants will have greater access to the welfare state.

As for Obamacare, illegal immigrants who get green card status will have access to Obamacare, causing the aggregate annual deficit to soar to around $106 billion, finds the Heritage Foundation. Heritage also concludes that the amnesty applicants who receive green card status would also receive full eligibility for more than 80 means-tested welfare programs.

As to the “gainfully employed” requirement, Rubio is not being completely honest. The most important exemption comes toward the end of the bill, but it’s worth noting at the outset: All education and job requirements in the bill are waived if the immigrant is unable to work or go to school “due to circumstances outside the control of the alien”. The bill provides no explanation of what this might include, and one must ask whether high unemployment rates would count as something outside the control of the amnesty applicants.

Acquiring provisional status does not require evidence of employment. Renewing the status after six years does trigger an employment section of the bill. The section requires that the legalized immigrant fulfill one of two options. In the first option, the alien must prove that he “was regularly employed throughout the period of admission as a registered provisional immigrant, allowing for brief periods lasting not more than 60 days” and “not likely to become a public charge”. But this means that the immigrant could be unemployed for a two-month period and still meet this requirement. Plus, the wording is such that it leaves some interpretation to the courts. What if the immigrant has two “brief periods” of unemployment “lasting not more than 60 days”? By some interpretations, the immigrant would still be able to meet this requirement. Can an immigrant have five such brief periods? Ten? If the bill were written to limit unemployment to 60 days, then it would read “allowing for brief periods of unemployment totaling not more than 60 days”. It is a simple wording change, but it leads to a significantly different outcome.

As an alternative, the alien can “demonstrate average income or resources that are not less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level” for the period he lived here as an alien legalized under the bill. If the alien is the only person in his household, this requirement means that he would have to be making at least $11,490 a year.

But standards are low here. Amnesty applicants can submit a number of different documents to prove they worked. This includes any paperwork from a day laborer hiring center or even sworn affidavits from an alien’s family member who is willing to claim that the alien was working.

On top of all this, the work requirements do not have to be met if an amnesty applicant is going to school. The bill defines the education requirement quite broadly.

Furthermore, the employment and educational requirements do not apply to anyone under age 21 at the time of applying for the amnesty’s provisional legal status, nor do they apply to people over age 60. Also exempted is anyone who is a “primary caretaker of a child or another person who requires supervision or is unable to care for himself or herself.”

ANNOUNCER: “Bold, very conservative, a tough line on immigration.”

Considering all the exemptions and waivers already laid out above, it is difficult to conclude that this bill is bold with a “tough line” on immigration. The phrasing in this portion of the Rubio commercial is taken from quotes from pro-amnesty columnists in the media. The word “bold” was used by a Washington Post blogger who supports amnesty. The phrase “very conservative” is from the same writer; the full sentence is more illuminating:

In essence, if you accept that you have to start somewhere and we have no capability to uproot 11 million people, this is a very conservative-friendly plan.

So the writer called the bill “very conservative-friendly” and the ad shortened it to “very conservative.” One could certainly argue that these have different meanings. But the premise of the full quote is also worthy of debate. Does the United States have no capability to send 11 million people back home? Amnesty advocates constantly argue that the only alternative to mass amnesty is mass deportations. But in reality, both are unworkable. The only solution to the illegal immigration problem is the “attrition through enforcement” policy where we consistently enforce our immigration laws for a period of years and encourage illegal immigrants to go home in greater numbers than they already are. The Post blogger does not entertain this option and presents only a choice between amnesty and mass deportations, one embraced by Rubio.

The phrase “tough line on immigration” was taken from a pro-amnesty columnist from CNN. The same columnistcalled Arizona a “rogue state at war” for passing laws attempting to curb illegal immigration. That the pro-amnesty columnist opposed Jan Brewer’s efforts but embraces Rubio should raise flags about Rubio’s commitment to immigration enforcement.

RUBIO: “It puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world and it once and for all deals with the issue of those that are here illegally but does so in a way that’s fair and compassionate but does not encourage people to come illegally in the future and isn’t unfair to the people that have done it the right way.”

Rubio claims that this comprehensive amnesty will fix the illegal immigration problem “once and for all”. But the American people have been told this before. The 1986 comprehensive amnesty, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was sold to the public as a one-time plan that would not have to be repeated because the bill contained sanctions against employers for hiring illegal immigrants, and other enforcement provisions. But after IRCA legalized about three million illegal aliens, the enforcement provisions never materialized. Today, about 7.5 million illegal aliens are holding jobs and their employers are not being held accountable. Why would anyone believe that the enforcement provisions in yet another amnesty would ever be enforced? In fact, only a few years after IRCA passed, the National Council of La Raza issued a report calling for the end to workplace enforcement. Interestingly, the author of that report was Cecilia Munoz, who today is President Obama’s chief immigration advisor. Odds are high that she will be working to undermine the enforcement in Rubio’s bill the moment it becomes law. Just last week President Obama told a roomful of amnesty advocate groups that if the bill becomes law, he will “revisit” the enforcement provisions. In other words, Obama has pledged to administratively narrow the scope of enforcement as soon as 11 million illegal immigrants and their family members acquire legal status through the bill. This is why enforcement must come before any type of legal status. Rubio’s bill is backwards, and it’s clear he hasn’t learned from the mistakes of IRCA.

Rubio also claims that the bill “does not encourage people to come illegally” but he apparently hasn’t been listening to border officials in the field who have come to Washington to testify before Congress. Rubio didn’t see thisWashington Times article:

“We have seen an increase in attempted entries,” Border Patrol Chief Michael J. Fisher told a Senate committee.

He said part of the reason for an increase is that Congress is talking about legalizing illegal immigrants, which is luring more foreigners to try to be in the U.S. when amnesty takes effect.

This should not come as a surprise. Amnesties always encourage illegal immigration because they send the message that illegal entry is a feasible path to legal U.S. residence.

Rubio also claims that amnesty is not unfair to those who are attempting to come to the United States the legal way. The reality is that illegal aliens get to stay in the country the moment they apply for amnesty. If they pass the simple background check, they receive legal status and nearly all the benefits of citizenship, including a work permit, a Social Security account, travel documents, a driver’s license, and many additional state-level benefits. While green card status may be delayed for a period of years, it is undeniable that amnesty applicants are in a much better position compared to those overseas who have applied to come to the United States legally. The amnesty applicant is only in the “back of the line” in the sense that the green card — and eventual U.S. citizenship — would allegedly be delayed until after all existing green card applications are processed. But the fact is, the genuine back of the line is in the illegal alien’s home country.

ANNOUNCER: “Stand with Marco Rubio to end de facto amnesty, support Conservative Immigration Reform.”

Again, Rubio wants to turn the de facto amnesty we’re currently experiencing as a result of non-enforcement of immigration laws into a de jure amnesty for millions of people who do not belong here. Rubio asks you to “stand” with him, but Rubio himself is standing with Obama, Napolitano, La Raza, the ACLU, and many other amnesty supporters who cannot be described as “conservative” in any sense of the word.

Fraud Alert: More red light tickets coming if you live in Florida

WDW did a column on red light cameras that are popping up all over the state of Florida. We reported on a study conducted by Barbara Langland-Orban, PhD, John T. Large, PhD, Etienne E. Pracht, PhD from the University of South Florida (USF) on red light cameras in 2008. They updated their study in 2011. Langland-Orban, et. al. found that red light cameras (RLC) increase the number of accidents at intersections by 28%.

The 2008 study found:

“Rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health conclude. The effective remedy to red-light running uses engineering solutions to improve intersection safety, which is particularly important to Florida’s elderly drivers, the researchers recommend.

Instead, they increase crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections. If used in Florida, cameras could potentially create even worse outcomes due to the state’s high percent of elderly who are more likely to be injured or killed when a crash occurs.”

Tampa Bay News Channel 10 did a report on red light cameras. According to 10 News:

“A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida’s rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines.

The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state’s policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations. The rule change was followed by engineers, both from FDOT and local municipalities, collaborating to shorten the length of yellow lights at key intersections, specifically those with red light cameras (RLCs).”

10 News reports,While yellow light times were reduced by mere fractions of a second, research indicates a half-second reduction in the interval can double the number of RLC citations — and the revenue they create.”

The 10 News investigation stemmed from a December discovery of a dangerously short yellow light in Hernando County. After the story aired, the county promised to re-time all of its intersections, and the 10 News Investigators promised to dig into yellow light timing all across Tampa Bay.”

“Red light cameras generated more than $100 million in revenue last year in approximately 70 Florida communities, with 52.5 percent of the revenue going to the state. The rest is divided by cities, counties, and the camera companies. In 2013, the cameras are on pace to generate $120 million,” notes 10 News.

Cities and counties install red light cameras as a “hidden tax” on motorists. RLCs are a new revenue stream for government and those companies that produce RLCs according to the USF study:

Comprehensive studies from North Carolina, Virginia, and Ontario have all reported cameras are significantly associated with increases in crashes, as well as crashes involving injuries. The study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council also found that cameras were linked to increased crash costs.

Some studies that conclude cameras reduced crashes or injuries contained major “research design flaws,” such as incomplete data or inadequate analyses, and were conducted by researchers with links to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras.

 The Florida legislature, during the 2013 session, considered HB 4011 which would repeal the use of red light cameras in the state. However, HB 4011 died in the House Appropriations Committee.

RUBIO: Federal government used to target political opponents

Rubio: “But the message is clear, and that is: ‘If we don’t like what you are saying or what you are doing, then we are going to use the apparatus of government to intimidate you and make you very uncomfortable.’ That is the story of the IRS, that is the story of the Justice Department via the AP issue, and that is the story with Benghazi.”

Excerpts from Interview with FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly

Senator Marco Rubio

May 14, 2013

Senator Marco Rubio: “I don’t know if the President did though. We don’t have evidence of that. I can tell you that what has become clearly apparent is a culture throughout the federal government, not just the IRS, but the Department of Justice, the State Department, etc. We have seen that now in three different incidents that basically use the government as an instrument of political activity to target your political opponents, to make life difficult for the people that are saying things that you don’t like, to make life difficult for whistle blowers that are saying things about the State Department that you don’t like, and I believe that all that comes from the top of any organization. So, I think that is where the questions are increasingly leading, and it is embarrassing for the country. These are things you typically see in the third world, from un-established republics and other places. You don’t see that here, and I think that is what is really troubling about the recent string of events.”

Rubio: “Right, so we have to be careful about that, but let me just say this. I don’t think that kind of environment can flourish unless there is created a space or an environment where it is encouraged. So, this is what we do know. We do know that donors to Mitt Romney and the Republican causes last year where targeted by Obama’s campaign apparatus, and the gentleman in Idaho that was targeted in his operation. We know others that complained about it. So, it is a general culture of the willingness to use the instruments of government to put what you consider to be your political opponents in a bad position, and you’ve seen that now on issue after issue. You have a whistle blower last week saying that in Benghazi that they felt threatened for their job. You have the AP now being targeted in a widespread effort to find out information about them, and you have this incident with the IRS.”

Rubio: “If this was just targeted at the leaks, that is a valid law enforcement endeavor. The problem is this is so widespread. If you look at what the request was and how widespread it was, what it basically feels like, and you’re seeing people in the press saying that. By the way, the curiosity in all this is how the press wanted to ignore Benghazi. They wanted to ignore all this other stuff. But when it touches them, now this thing is ‘the next Watergate.’ But back to the point about the AP, the request was so widespread; it wasn’t targeted. It was so widespread, it was like a fishing expedition.”

Rubio: “But the message is clear, and that is: ‘If we don’t like what you are saying or what you are doing, then we are going to use the apparatus of government to intimidate you and make you very uncomfortable.’ That is the story of the IRS, that is the story of the Justice Department via the AP issue, and that is the story with Benghazi.”

Rubio: “We did a hearing and Secretary Clinton came before us and answered questions and obviously as more information comes out, what she said at that hearing will have to be compared to what the facts are that are being uncovered, and I hope that they match up. And if they don’t, then obviously, there will be consequences for that. But look here is the bottom line: there are two separate issues to look at in Benghazi. One is were the talking points manipulated for political purposes? And number two, should we even have been there to begin with, in Benghazi, after a steady stream of intelligence reporting that told the State Department that it is a very dangerous environment to have been there? They should have closed it down, and if they were going to keep Benghazi open, they should have had an adequate security and an adequate plan to rescue those people, and they did not.”

Full Interview: http://youtu.be/aJ_CT7YmmE4

Florida Rep. Buchanan: “Heads Need to Roll” at the IRS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, and the only member of the Florida delegation on the House Ways and Means Committee, today called on acting-IRS commissioner Steven Miller to immediately fire Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official who oversaw the intentional targeting of individuals because of their politics and criticism of the government.

“Heads need to roll today,” said Buchanan, Florida’s only member of the Ways & Means Committee which oversees the IRS. “Ms. Lois Lerner knew about this gross abuse of power as early as 2011 but continues to plead ignorance to this day. We don’t want apologies we want answers and accountability — and we can start by firing the person responsible for this gross abuse of power.”

On Friday, Lerner told reporters that she first learned of the IRS targeting of political groups from media reports. However, a draft report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration confirms that Ms. Lerner was made aware that such political targeting had occurred on June 29, 2011. Ms. Lerner also tried to pin the blame on low-level workers. The Inspector General’s report confirms that senior IRS officials in Washington were made aware of the misconduct as early as August 2011.

“Our founding fathers would be rolling in their graves if they knew their government was targeting individuals based on their political beliefs and criticism of the government,” said Buchanan. “The American people need to know they can be critical of their government without fear of retribution.”

Buchanan issued a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday demanding a full accounting from top to bottom of those responsible for the IRS’s gross abuse of power and what action is being taken to restore the public trust. The Ways & Means Committee will hold its first hearing on Friday to further investigate the matter.

Congressman Buchanan sent the letter below to Treasury Secretary Lew:

May 13, 2013

The Honorable Jacob Lew
Secretary of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew,

I share the outrage of millions of Americans at confirmed reports that the Internal Revenue Service has gone out of its way to intentionally target individuals and organizations whose politics are at odds with the Administration. The American people demand and deserve a full-accounting from top to bottom of those responsible for this gross abuse of power and what action is being taken to restore the public trust.

On March 22, 2012, as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee which oversees the IRS, we heard then-Commissioner Douglas Shulman clearly state that the IRS did not engage in the practices of which it is now accused saying “there is absolutely no targeting.” Yet, less than a year earlier, Commissioner Shulman’s own deputy, Lois Lerner, was made aware that such malpractice had indeed occurred. It became evident that groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names were extremely vulnerable to auditing harassment. Even nonprofit organizations that sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution were unfairly singled out for scrutiny.

The nation’s trust in government was betrayed by this unconscionable behavior.

On behalf of my constituents, your immediate response is not only warranted but essential to clearing up a matter that would have our founding fathers rolling in their graves.

Sincerely,

Vern Buchanan
Member of Congress

Rubio introduces legislation to limit powers of IRS

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today filed an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from abusing its powers to violate first amendment rights. Rubio will introduce identical legislation, the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination & Protection Act of 2013, in the Senate tomorrow. The legislation, introduced today in the House by Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH), provides for mandatory termination and criminal liability for Internal Revenue Service employees who willfully violate the constitutional rights of a taxpayer. The need for the legislation is demonstrated by current reports of the IRS deliberately targeting conservative organizations, and it expressly states that political speech and political expression are protected rights.

The legislation reads in part, “Whoever being an employee of the Internal Revenue Service, engages, during the performance of that employee’s official duties, in an act or omission described in section 1203(b) of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 shall be fined under this 8 title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.’’

“A government organization like the IRS discriminating against political organizations is an outrageous abuse of power, and the American people have every right to demand answers and accountability,” said Rubio. “Those responsible individuals should face all appropriate punishment available under current law, and all organizations and individuals who engage in political speech and expression should be protected against this kind of discriminatory behavior in the future. I commend Congressman Turner for championing this legislation in the House and hope our colleagues will join us in providing protections to deter this kind of governmental abuse from happening again.”

Earlier, Rubio sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to demand the resignation of the current IRS Commissioner. “The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration,” Rubio wrote. “If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

To view the legislation, click here.

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 13, 2013

The Honorable Jack Lew 
Secretary 
U.S. Department of the Treasury 
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew:

Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service’s selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning. This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.

The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration. It is imperative that you, your predecessor, and other past and present high-ranking officials at the Department of Treasury and IRS immediately testify before Congress.

The public expects your complete cooperation with both congressional investigations and potential criminal inquiries. If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech. Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.

Furthermore, it is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership. Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

Rubio: IRS head must resign

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today urged Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (pictured above) to demand the resignation of the current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner, in light of reports about the agency’s deliberate targeting of conservative organizations.

“[I]t is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership,” said Rubio in a letter to Lew. “I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.”

Rubio also called on Lew to ensure the Treasury Department’s full cooperation with all investigations regarding this scandal now known as “IRSgate”.

“The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration,” Rubio wrote. “If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 13, 2013
The Honorable Jack Lew
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew:

Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service’s selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning. This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.

The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration. It is imperative that you, your predecessor, and other past and present high-ranking officials at the Department of Treasury and IRS immediately testify before Congress.

The public expects your complete cooperation with both congressional investigations and potential criminal inquiries. If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech. Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.

Furthermore, it is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership. Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

The Ugly Facts About the Internet Sales Tax

The Internet sales tax passed the Senate, but a growing chorus is pointing out that it would hurt many to help the tax man.

The Senate passed the misleadingly named Marketplace Fairness Act last week by a vote of 69-27. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that he is unlikely to support it—and other House Members said they want to take a thorough look at it through the normal committee process.

“Moving this bill where you’ve got 50 different sales tax codes, it’s a mess out there,” Boehner said. “You’re going to make it much more difficult for online retailers to be able to comply.”

For a larger view click on the image

Not only would it charge a new sales tax to many consumers shopping online, but it fails to do what its proponents say—achieve “fairness” for stores.

As Heritage’s Curtis Dubay says:

The MFA is anything but fair, because instead of leveling the playing field, it would tilt it decidedly against online retailers, particularly small ones. Brick-and-mortar stores would still have to collect sales taxes only where they are physically present. Online retailers would have to collect sales taxes from the nearly 10,000 sales tax jurisdictions around the country where their customers live. That is not an equal burden.

For someone running—or thinking about starting—a small online business, trying to deal with tax codes for all of the states that charge sales tax is a huge deterrent.

Yet the Senate rushed this bill through. Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist said the rush itself was one of the reasons the Internet sales tax made it this far.

“It’s only passing the Senate because they took it out of regular order,” he said. “Why did they want to rush it through without amendments? Why did they do that? Because if people looked at it too long, it wouldn’t pass easily.”

The House is going to consider the bill through the normal committee channels, giving Members more time to review it and ask questions.

This also allows time for more facts to enter the debate and misconceptions to be exposed. Share this with your friends and family to spread the word.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Department of Education to delete terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’

Oliver Darcy from Campus Reform reports:

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has announced it will replace “gender specific terms like ‘mother’ and father’” in the 2014-2015 federal student aid form with neutral language.

The terms “mother” and “father” will no longer be used on the Federal Application for Student Aid.

The new language, “parent one” and “parent two,” is aimed at accommodating students who have grown up in gay households and have either two mothers or two fathers, according to a statement released by the DOE late last month.

“All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the press release.

The new language will “provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families,” he added.

According to Duncan, “gender-specific terms also fail to capture income and other information from one parent when a student’s parents are in a same-sex marriage under state law but not federally recognized under the Defense of Marriage Act.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education did not return calls for comment from Campus Reform.

Read more.

Crystal Wright in her column The Gay Takeover of America states, “What is happening to our country? Gays, who represent less than 3% of our population, are trying to dominate our culture and society. Love whom you want. Love the one you’re with. People don’t really care. This is the message most people want to say but are afraid to because the LBGT (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender) community will verbally flog anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Between gay marriage, gay adoptions, forcing the Boy Scouts to admit gay scouts and scout masters, and lauding a rich NBA player for announcing he’s gay, the message is clear from gay America to the 97% of the rest of us. You will accept our lifestyle as mainstream. My response: ‘No I won’t’.”

This phenomenon is taking place in the EU as well. Sun News Networks’ Michael Coren interviews Judith Reisman on The Arena. They discuss the recent visit of Judith Reisman and Tim Tate to Croatia in support of Karolina Vidović-Krišto, a respected and successful journalist and TV host, who got suspended after reviewing Tim Tate’s documentary on her public television show. Watch the interview:

New Government Report Undercuts Anti-Gun Agenda

report issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS-a component of the Justice Department) shows that firearm homicides in general, and violence at schools, have decreased substantially during the last two decades; the percentage of homicides committed with firearms has decreased; and only a tiny percentage of state prison inmates imprisoned for gun offenses obtain their guns from gun shows.

As the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin characterizes it, the report is “wonderful news for the country and rotten data for anti-gun advocates.” 

To make matters worse for anti-gun advocates, the story has been picked up by the national news media. In an article for U.S. News and NBCNews.com, veteran reporter Pete Williams points out that the BJS report shows that 40 percent of criminals get their guns from friends and family members, and another 37 percent get theirs from theft or other illegal sources. Lest gun control advocates accuse the BJS or Williams of having a pro-gun political agenda, Williams notes that “The report is strictly factual.”

In his article for the Washington Post, Jerry Markon says that while “gun shows were central” to the recent debate in the U.S. Senate over expanding background checks to cover private firearm transactions, “Less than 1 percent of state prison inmates who possessed a gun when they committed their offense obtained the firearm at a gun show,” according to the report. The figure reported by the BJS is 0.8 percent.

NRA members probably are not surprised at the gist of the BJS report.

In the NRA’s magazines and NRA-ILA’s Grassroots Alerts, we’ve been reporting the decline in violent crime, the relative safety of schools, and the relative rarity of criminal acquisition of firearms at gun shows, for nearly 20 years. But for the general public, the contents of the BJS report may come as a revelation, especially given the way that many in the media have reported on the gun control issue over the last few months.

As another U.S. News article and a Fox News article that covered the BJS report point out, a recent Pew Research Center poll found that while “The gun homicide rate in 2010 was the lowest it had been since [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] began publishing data in 1981,” 56 percent of respondents believe that gun crime is higher than it was two decades ago, against 12 percent who believe it is lower.

To be clear, 2010 is the most recent year for which the CDC has released homicide data. For the record, FBI data show that the murder rate dropped again in 2011, and again in the first half of 2012.

NRA helps pass Anti-Second Amendment Bill in Florida

Gov. Rick Scott (R) at a gun shop (Palm Beach Post photo)

Governor Scott is under pressure from NationalGunRights.org (NGR) members to not sign into law CS/CS/HB 1355: Purchase of Firearms by Mentally Ill Persons.

CS/CS/HB 1355 states:

Purchase of Firearms by Mentally Ill Persons; Provides conditions under which person who has been voluntarily admitted to mental institution for treatment & has undergone involuntary examination under Baker Act may be prohibited from purchasing firearm; provides requirements for examining physician; provides for judicial review of certain findings; provides specified notice requirements; provides form & contents of notice; provides requirements with respect to filing of specified records with court & presentation of such records to judge or magistrate; provides lawful authority of judge or magistrate to review specified records & order that such records be submitted to FDLE; provides a timeframe for submission of records to FDLE upon order of record by judge or magistrate.

In an email to supporters Dudley Brown, Executive Vice-President of NGR states, “If a gun owner is voluntarily committed for a mental health issue and the doctor feels they might be a danger to themselves or others, they will forfeit their gun rights. This is even if the physician recommends outpatient treatment for the condition.”

“The doctor would then give the law-abiding gun owner a written notice saying they will be losing their gun rights, whether they AGREE to treatment or not! The requirement for ‘involuntary commitment,’ as is currently in Florida law, would be thrown out the window along with the requirement for due process in a court before taking your gun rights away,” notes Brown.

Following the shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan has become one of the leading advocates in Broward County for changing laws to improve school safety. Ryan, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, called for several measures, including the need to address mental health and guns, in the political blog BrowardBeat.com.

“It [CS/CS/HB 1355] is singling out people who have mental illness and are seeking out treatment voluntarily,”  exclaimed Pam Gionfriddo the CEO of the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, “My fear is that people who need help aren’t going to seek it out, cause nobody wants to be on a database.”

NBC News Channel 5 reports, “Gionfriddo believes measures like HB 1355 could take away rights from people. She wants more effort and funding for mental health care. Funding for mental health programs has been decreasing in recent years, she said. ‘My fear is that people who need help aren’t going to seek it out, cause nobody wants to be on a database’.”

Mike Ryan from the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald wrote, “We should point out that the simple act of being held under the Baker Act doesn’t mean the person is mentally ill or in need of commitment. In 2010, less than 1 percent of about 140,000 involuntary examinations led to involuntary placement in a mental health treatment facility, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families. This number doesn’t account for people who voluntarily remained in facilities.”

Ryan states, “We found many law enforcement agencies — including the sheriff’s offices in Broward and Hillsborough and police departments in the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and nearby town of Davie — do require a court order.”

“We couldn’t find data regarding how often someone who is Baker Acted has their firearm taken. ‘Most individuals don’t have weapons at the time of the Baker Act,’ said Miami-Dade County Judge Steve Leifman, who chairs judicial committees on mental health,” writes Ryan.

Ryan notes, “Under the Baker Act, people who haven’t committed crimes are not supposed to be treated as criminals and they do retain their constitutional rights — including the right to own a gun.”

Rubio: IRS targeting of Conservative groups is reprehensible, must be investigated

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding today’s admission by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that it has deliberately targeted conservative groups:

“The IRS’s political targeting of select groups based on their political leanings is reprehensible, and it should trouble every American to know that a federal government agency could abuse its power so outrageously.  We need immediate congressional hearings to investigate these actions and determine who needs to be held accountable.  This is deplorable behavior by the IRS that threatens the very essence of our democracy and the First Amendment rights under our Constitution.”

One of 300 letters sent from the IRS was to the Waco Tea Party.

The IRS letter states, “We need more information before we can complete our consideration of your application for. exemption.  Please provide the information requested on the enclosed Information Request by the response due date shown above. Your response must be signed by an authorized person or an officer whose name is listed on your application.  Also, the information you submit should be accompanied by the following declaration: Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this information, including accompanying documents, and, to the best of my knowledge and belief, tile information contains all the relevant facts relating to the request for the information, and such facts are true, correct, and complete.” The Information Request demands in part the following:

1. Please provide copies of your current web pages, including your blog posts. Please provide copies of all of your newsletters, bulletins, flyers, newsletters or any other media or literature you have disseminated to your members or others. Please provide copies of stories and articles that have been published about you.

2. Provide copies of the pages of your social networking sites.

10. List the community events, including rallies, you organized or took part in in the past, or plan to organize or participate in during the current election cycle. What are the dates on which they took place or will take place?

a. Describe the purpose of the event, and the issues that it addressed.

b. Provide copies of any materials disseminated to participants in the event.

c. If you permitted a candidate qua candidate to address the participants in any event, explain in detail.

20. Apart from your responses to the preceding,estimate the percentage of your time and what percentage of your resources you will devote to activities in the 2012 election cycle,in which you will explicitly or implicitly support or oppose a candidate, candidates or slates of candidates,for public office.

The IRS letter concludes with:

If we don’t hear from you by the response due date shown above,we will assume you no longer want us to consider your application for exemption and will close your case. As a result,the Internal Revenue Service will treat you as a taxable entity. If we receive the information after the response due date, we may ask you to send us a new application.

From the letter it appears that the IRS was seeking information beyond its role and responsibility.

Muslim cleric at Navy SEAL memorial service damns them as infidels

A memorial service was held in Afghanistan by U.S. Forces following the crash of a CH-47 helicopter that took the lives of 31 service members including 22 Navy SEALs, 5 Army helicopter crew members, 3 Air Force combat controllers and one Navy SEAL dog. Among the fallen was Arron Vaughn, a SEAL Team Six member.  Aaron’s parents are Florida residents Billy and Karen Vaughn. Aaron is survived by his wife Kimberly and daughter Reagan Vaughn.

A Muslim cleric was invited to pray at the memorial service for those killed in the Extortion 17 helicopter crash. The following is the certified translation of what the Muslim cleric chants:

Amen, I shelter in Allah from the devil who has been cast with stones. In the name of Allah the merciful forgiver. The companions of the “fire” (The sinners and infidels who are fodder for hell fire) are not equal with the companions of heaven.

The companions of heaven (Muslims) are the winners. Had we sent this Koran to a mountain you would have seen the mountain prostrated in fear of Allah (mocking the God of Moses).

Such examples are what we present to the people; to the people, so that they would think (repent and convert to Islam).

Blessings are to your God (Allah) the God of glory of what they describe.

And peace be upon the messengers (prophets) and thanks be to Allah the lord of both universes (mankind and Jinn).

You may watch a portion of the service in the below video provided by Trento Vision TV. Note there were hundreds of our troops assembled in the hanger to honor our fallen heroes. Among those in attendance were the top U.S. Military commanders in Afghanistan. Boykin states, “As an American I’m outraged, as a soldier I am angry.”

Congressman Louie Gohmert (TX-01) “Outraged” at Imam gloating over coffins of SEAL Team VI:

Family members are questioning the circumstances surrounding the Extortion 17 mission, including the lead up to the deployment, the failed execution of the mission and what happened afterwards. This video of the memorial service has been characterized by some of the families who lost their sons in the failed Extortion 17 mission as “rubbing salt into an open wound”.

For a larger view click on the image.

UPDATE: LTG Jerry Boykin demands answers about who authorized this Imam to be at the Extortion 17 ramp memorial service:


RELATED COLUMN:

Watchdog says government has tried to silence him on Afghanistan

From Extortion 17 to Benghazi to President Obama

Navy SEAL Team VI Families reveal governments culpability in death of their sons in the fatal helicopter crash in Afghanistan following the successful raid on bin Laden’s compound.

Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn

Three families of Navy SEAL Team VI special forces servicemen, along with one family of an Army National Guardsman, held a press conference on May 9, 2013, to disclose never before revealed information about how and why their sons along with 26 others died in a fatal helicopter crash in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011, just a few months after the successful raid on the compound of Osama Bin Laden that resulted in the master terrorist’s death. The event will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Among the families there will be Billy and Karen Vaughn from Florida. They are the parents of Navy SEAL Team VI member Aaron Vaughn.

Accompanying the families of these dead Navy SEAL Team VI special operations servicemen will be retired military experts verifying their accounts of how and why the government is as much responsible for the deaths of their sons as is the Taliban. Among the military experts expected to attend are: Adm. James A. “Ace” Lyons, Jr., LTG William G. “Jerry” BoykinLTG Thomas G. “Tom” McInerneyMG Paul E. Vallely and former Navy SEAL Benjamin Smith.

The pre-event, press conference and post-press conference was documented by TrentoVision.TV in the following video:

RELATED COLUMN:

Watchdog says government has tried to silence him on Afghanistan

Pew Study: Gun Homicide Rate Down 49% Since 1993 Peak

D’Vera Cohn, Paul Taylor, Mark Hugo Lopez, Catherine A. Gallagher, Kim Parker and Kevin T. Maass from Pew Research released their study of gun homicide rates in the U.S. since 1993.

According to the research team, “Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.”

U.S. Firearm Deaths

  • In 2010, there were 3.6 gun homicides per 100,000 people, compared with 7.0 in 1993, according to CDC data.
  • In 2010, CDC data counted 11,078 gun homicide deaths, compared with 18,253 in 1993.5
  • Men and boys make up the vast majority (84% in 2010) of gun homicide victims. The firearm homicide rate also is more than five times as high for males of all ages (6.2 deaths per 100,000 people) as it is for females (1.1 deaths per 100,000 people).
  • By age group, 69% of gun homicide victims in 2010 were ages 18 to 40, an age range that was 31% of the population that year. Gun homicide rates also are highest for adults ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 40.
  • A disproportionate share of gun homicide victims are black (55% in 2010, compared with the 13% black share of the population). Whites were 25% of victims but 65% of the population in 2010. Hispanics were 17% of victims and 16% of the population in 2010.
  • The firearm suicide rate (6.3 per 100,000 people) is higher than the firearm homicide rate and has come down less sharply. The number of gun suicide deaths (19,392 in 2010) outnumbered gun homicides, as has been true since at least 1981.

U.S. Firearm Crime Victimization

  • In 2011, the NCVS estimated there were 181.5 gun crime victimizations for non-fatal violent crime (aggravated assault, robbery and sex crimes) per 100,000 Americans ages 12 and older, compared with 725.3 in 1993.
  • In terms of numbers, the NCVS estimated there were about 1.5 million non-fatal gun crime victimizations in 1993 among U.S. residents ages 12 and older, compared with 467,000 in 2011.

U.S. Other Non-fatal Crime

  • The victimization rate for all non-fatal violent crime among those ages 12 and older—simple and aggravated assaults, robberies and sex crimes, with or without firearms—dropped 53% from 1993 to 2000, and 49% from 2000 to 2010. It rose 17% from 2010 to 2011.
  • Although not the topic of this report, the rate of property crimes—burglary, motor vehicle theft and theft—also declined from 1993 to 2011, by 61%. The rate for these types of crimes was 351.8 per 100,000 people ages 12 and older in 1993, 190.4 in 2000 and 138.7 in 2011.

Context

  • The number of firearms available for sale to or possessed by U.S. civilians (about 310 million in 2009, according to the Congressional Research Service) has grown in recent years, and the 2009 per capita rate of one person per gun had roughly doubled since 1968. It is not clear, though, how many U.S. households own guns or whether that share has changed over time.
  • Crime stories accounted for 17% of the total time devoted to news on local television broadcasts in 2012, compared with 29% in 2005, according to Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Crime trails only traffic and weather as the most common type of story on these newscasts.