Archive for August, 2015

If Hillary quits the election I’ll shut down Hardball, says MSNBC’s Chris Matthews

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Originally published at Rare

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is apparently very confident that Hillary Clinton has political staying power, despite controversies over her email server and subsequent drops in her polling numbers. When Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway suggested on Hardball that there’s a chance an embattled Clinton might withdraw from the race, Matthews balked.

“I hope Hillary can hang on long enough to be the Democratic nominee,” said Conway. “You don’t want her to hang on,” Matthews retorted. “I do want her to hang on, and here’s why,” replied Conway. “I’m worried if she gets pushed out of the race too early, you’ll get Elizabeth Warren stepping in. She’s got plenty of time to raise money and take that mantle.”

Matthews then asked Conway if she believes that’s actually going to happen. Conway said that she thinks if Hillary exits on her own that Warren will in fact enter, and become a force to be reckoned with for Republicans.

At that point, Matthews made a promise that he likely hopes he won’t have to keep.

“When Hillary Clinton quits the election, we’re going to shut down this show,” said Matthews.

Of course, it’s not likely that Chris Matthews is in any rush to give up Hardball and was simply expressing his confidence in the fact that Clinton will weather the storm. Nevertheless, it would be entertaining were Matthews called to end his program if his prediction is incorrect.

As Mediate noted, former Speaker of the House and presidential candidate tweeted the following in response to Matthews’ quip.

You can watch the segment, including the promise from Chris Matthews, here.

“What’s wrong with slavery?” asks anti-immigrant talk radio host

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Originally published at Rare

In a display of how vile the discourse has become in certain pockets of the conservative movement, Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson suggested this week that people found in the country illegally should become “property of the United States.”

Mickelson detailed his dehumanizing plan on air, explaining that he would issue a public notice giving undocumented individuals a grace period in which they could leave his home state. If people who were unable to sufficiently prove their legal status to the government were still in Iowa after the time allotted, they would be declared human property of the state.

“I think everyone would believe it sounds like slavery,” a caller told Mickelson upon hearing that he would round people up and put them in labor camps reminiscent of communist North Korea.

“What’s wrong with slavery?” inquired Mickelson. “Well, we know what’s wrong with slavery,” the caller retorted. Mickelson then went on to claim that his alleged solution is moral, legal, and politically doable.

“We would take a lesson from Sheriff Arpaio down in Arizona. Put up a tent village, we feed and water these new assets, we give them minimal shelter, minimal nutrition, and offer them the opportunity to work for the benefit of the taxpayers of the state of Iowa,” said Mickelson.

Mickelson also suggested that these minimally fed and sheltered “illegal Mexicans” turned “assets” could build a wall on the northern border of their native country. This would in effect make their government pay, as Donald Trump has vaguely promised as part of his campaign platform.

Mickelson’s comments follow a similarly dehumanizing immigration related statement from another right-winger who comes across as more authoritarian than meaningfully conservative. “I don’t care if Donald Trump wants to perform abortions in the White House after this immigration policy paper,” tweeted Ann Coulter in praise of Trump’s radically anti-immigrant platform.

While a segment of conservatives want to crack down on illegal immigration and secure the border, Mickelson’s crude comments don’t represent the mainstream. Many conservatives share Ted Cruz’s position that illegal immigrants should not be granted amnesty, but that we ought to invite more legal workers into the country.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal / NBC News poll however, a full 53% of Republicans support a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

Animas River Response Reveals the Environmentalist Left’s Dangerous Hypocrisy

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Originally published at Every Joe

The double-standards that run rampant on the left are revealing themselves yet again; this time around an issue that liberals love to pretend they have a monopoly on: the environment. This latest bout of hypocrisy surrounds the fact that just weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released approximately three million gallons of acidic waste into a Colorado river, underestimated the environmental and economic impact of their mistake, and even failed to alert affected state government officials and the public about the dangerous situation a timely fashion.

But you probably haven’t seen photographs of this now-hazardous river plastered across the front pages of newspapers ad nauseam the way you did the BP gulf coast oil spill. To the extent that the polluted Animas River has been on TV, it’s as a side note; in contrast for example, to the airtime the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska received. Yes, those spills were bigger scale-wise. That doesn’t change the fact however, that the coverage and accountability disparity when it comes to corporate versus government pollution sheds an unflattering light on the left and their sympathetic media allies. Still, the responsibility and competency problems are much bigger than just that.

As Governor Susanna Martinez of New Mexico (which was one of the states impacted by the EPA’s recent negligence) said, “This was caused by the EPA, and the EPA should demand the same of itself as it would of a private business responsible for such a spill, particularly when it comes to making information available to the public and state and local officials.” As critics and impacted groups have noted, the EPA’s disastrous post-incident response has been nothing short of outrageous, if not outright dangerous.

“EPA compounded its gross negligence by failing to inform city and state officials or residents and recreationists on the river for a full 24 hours after the event,” reported The American Spectator’s H. Sterling Burnett. “That’s 24 hours farmers were irrigating with tainted water, cities were pumping dirty water for municipal uses, and kayakers and anglers were literally standing or floating in the toxic brew. Some mayors of cities first learned of the danger from news reports, not the EPA itself.”

Despite the harm caused to affected persons, most Americans are at best, tangentially aware of the Animas River and the toxins that have turned a previously usable body of water into a bright orange disaster. And as far as the environmentalist left is concerned, that ignorance of this serious situation is by design. In fact, the President of the United States himself wants you to ignore the EPA’s egregious mistake, for which interestingly enough, they aren’t being held accountable by his administration. But it’s all for the sake of “progress,” of course.

The most recent emails sent out by Obama’s grassroots outfit provide a strong clue as to the reasoning behind White House officials’ tight lips. Maligning anyone who would dare question the wisdom of giving the unaccountable and apparently incompetent EPA even more power in the wake of this incident as “science deniers,” Obama’s Organizing For Action sent out a characteristically condescending call-to-action meredays after the EPA tainted a beautiful river with several million gallons of toxic sludge:

“Friend –

You don’t have to be a policy expert to make a difference on climate change. All it takes is a willingness to fight back — especially against deniers that willfully ignore the science.

Now that the Clean Power Plan is finalized, it’s the states’ turn to take action, and state leaders need your support to keep the momentum going.

Stand with leaders that are taking action in the fight against climate change — add your name.

States all over the country are already acting to meet their clean power goals. Nevada is helping lead the nationwide solar boom — between 2013 and 2014, the number of solar jobs in Nevada grew by 146 percent. Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota each get at least a fifth of their power from clean wind energy. New York is part of a nine-state partnership that has created jobs and boosted the regional economy, all while cutting consumers’ utility bills by hundreds of millions of dollars and cutting carbon pollution by 40 percent.

That kind of leadership is needed in the weeks to come, during the hard push to meet the EPA’s goals — and OFA volunteers are stepping up in support.

Say you’ll stand with strong leadership on climate change:


Jack Shapiro

National Issues Campaign Manager

Organizing for Action”

Well. That explains the sound of chirping crickets emanating from Pennsylvania Avenue. The White House is too busy trying to ram its latest EPA-led economically damaging centralized scheme down our throats to bother pursuing what should be government’s basic function: holding all entities, including its own agencies, accountable for endangering the health and livelihood of American citizens.

If OFA and the environmental left had even a shred of credibility, they would be calling for investigations and mass firings. Instead, they’re twiddling their thumbs at best, and mostly engaging in outright excuse-making. As Burnett wrote at The American Spectator: “If a private company had caused this disaster, federal and state officials would already be talking about criminal investigations, and civil suits would be filed claiming billions in damages. Heads would be rolling. By contrast, although EPA may transfer some of the people who supervised the disastrous operation, it’s likely few, if any, of its employees will be fired or forced to resign.”

And disappointingly but unsurprisingly, the usual suspects are running defense for an EPA that should be investigated and reorganized, not praised and expanded. The Washington Times compiled an illuminating roundup of reactions to the Animas River tragedy from environmental organizations invested in centralizing government power as a means to their ends. No one should be shocked by their double standards, but we should certainly call them on it.

Courtesy of the Washington Times’ Valerie Richardson:

“Said Colorado state Rep. Joe Salazar, a Democrat, on Twitter: ‘Focus of #AnimasRiver contamination should be on mining companies and their mining practices, not EPA, yes?’

The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain chapter posted a link to an article titled ‘9 things you need to know about the Animas River spill.’ The list includes ‘The EPA messed up, but they’re not the root cause’ and ‘This isn’t the first time this has happened, nor is it the worst.’

‘Blaming the EPA for #AnimasRiver spill is like blaming a doctor for the disease,’ Conservation Colorado said in a Wednesday tweet.”

Really? These groups want us to believe that the “mining companies and their practices” are at the root of this problem when the Gold King Mine stopped its operations in 1923 and somehow, no damage was caused since until EPA employees unplugged a sufficiently blockaded source of pollution?

This is of course not to say that companies ought to have the right to pollute. They don’t. And they should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law in accordance with a respect for property rights. But environmental groups ought to take their ideological blinders off and recognize the dangerous double standard they’re enabling when they make excuses for the EPA’s negligence.

To the extent that the EPA isn’t being held accountable as a private company in the same situation would, conservatives are bolstered in our argument that strong definitions of property rights and a small watchdog-sized government to enforce them are pro-environment policies. When government holds too much centralized power, there’s a built-in disincentive to pursue internal accountability measures. This ultimately hurts victims of their negligence the most.

In the wake of this tragedy, the EPA and its allies could sure use a wake-up call. If the Navajo Nation, which has been severely impacted by this pollution, follows through on their threat to sue, the EPA sure will have earned it. As Jonathan Lockwood of the free market advocacy group Advancing Colorado said:

“This environmental disaster is just one more example of why people do not trust the job-killing EPA and we have every right to question why our hard-earned money is going to such an incompetent and mismanaged government agency. This is now a multi-state issue, and people have every right to be absolutely outraged with the EPA, and the officials who continue to provide support and cover for this agency.”

Clearly, it’s more than past time to hold the government to the same standards they hold us to.

Ohio voters might legalize marijuana over their presidential candidate Governor’s opposition

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Originally published at Rare

Ohio governor and presidential candidate John Kasich will be tested politically when voters in his home state get a chance to legalize marijuana through a ballot referendum this November.

Kasich has long opposed illegal drug use of all kinds, and said just months ago that he is still deciding whether he supports federally prosecuting states that allow recreational weed use.

“If I happen to be President,” said Kasich to conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt this past April, “I would lead a significant campaign, down at the grassroots level, to stomp these drugs out of our country.”

How much support such an effort would garner is questionable, seeing as the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization.

Nevertheless, Kasich went on to detail the scourge of heroin, and implied that all illegal drugs, marijuana included, are just as dangerous – though this claim has been disputed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Kasich concluded by telling Hewitt that despite his general respect for states’ and voters’ rights, he might follow the Christie and Rubio path of pursuing federal action against states that have decided to legalize. On the other hand, it’s still possible that Kasich will emulate Cruz and Paul, who believe states should choose whether or not to allow recreational and medical marijuana use.

As for his own state of Ohio however, Kasich plans to fight legalization tooth and nail.

Through his press secretary, Kasich informed National Journal that he is opposed to the upcoming Ohio constitutional amendment vote in question.

As The Daily Beast’s Betsey Woodruff noted however, Kasich may find some unlikely allies in his battle. This is because the constitutional amendment question, drafted by advocacy group ResponsibleOhio, is a very restrictive measure that critics say is driven by cronyism.

As Woodruff reported, “(The amendment) only allows for 10 pot farms, in specific geographic locations. And—big surprise!—the companies that own those farms are the major investors in the legalization campaign.” This has irked legalization advocates who believe the marijuana market should be open to any entrepreneur eager to participate.

Of the Ohio constitutional amendment, the president of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Tyler Henson said: “When you have only 10 growers to supply an entire state with such a large population as Ohio, there is bound to be price-fixing and collusion. You can’t stop that.”

While the anti-market aspects of the amendment are disappointing to many cannabis advocates, the initiative is particularly noteworthy because if passed, Ohio would be the first state to go from a full ban to complete legalization without an interim medical marijuana law.

As for Governor Kasich, his office has been unclear as to exactly what measures they would pursue to combat the law if passed. “Let’s have that discussion when there’s not an if,” his press secretary stated, implying that the governor’s current attention is fully focused on fighting the amendment’s passage. As Eric Garcia at National Journal noted however, “The ballot initiative could thrust marijuana further into the spotlight in the primary race.” Garcia went on to say:

“Kasich has at times shown a tendency to back down when voters push back against him, as was the case with a referendum against his stripping of collective bargaining rights for public employees. But in a ballot referendum right before primary season starts, Kasich may be split between listening to voters in his home state versus voters in Iowa or New Hampshire.”

Kasich has positioned himself as a moderate, embracing Medicaid expansion in his home state, and engaging in permissive if not positive discussions about marriage equality.

He has thus far, not staked out a similarly moderate position on marijuana, but political pressure could change that. Looking toward the future, 68% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 support full marijuana legalization.

Whether Kasich and other Republicans will evolve with the times on this issue is yet to be seen.

White House hires first openly transgender staffer

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Originally published at Rare

The transgender community has been in the spotlight in recent months due to the high-profile transition of Caitlyn Jenner, the Olympic champion and reality TV star formerly known as Bruce. For many, this was their first introduction to the realities of transgenderism.

However, advocates within the transgender community have long been working, largely outside the view of mainstream journalists and pundits, to help a group of people who often face poverty and discrimination at disproportionately high rates.

In a new mark of social progress for this community, the White House recently hired its first openly transgender staffer. As the Washington Blade, a publication that focuses on issues impacting the LGBT community reported:

“Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who formerly served in trans advocacy as policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Racial & Economic Justice Initiative, has been appointed to a senior position in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. She’s set to begin her new role as an outreach and recruitment director in the Presidential Personnel Office on Tuesday.”

Prior to joining White House staff, Freedman-Gurspan worked in the Massachusetts state legislature, focusing largely on transgender advocacy. She has also been employed by The National Center for Transgender Equality.

As Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade explained:

“The Obama administration has appointed openly transgender people into federal government positions before, but no appointee so far could be considered a White House staffer. For example, President Obama appointed Dylan Orr in 2009 as special assistant in the Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, although he’s since left the government. Another openly trans Obama appointee is Amanda Simpson, who’s currently executive director of the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives.”

Of Freedman-Gurspan’s new position in the White House, Mara Keisling of The National Center for Transgender Equality said:

“That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant. And that the first White House transgender appointee is a friend is inspiring to me and to countless others who have been touched by Raffi’s advocacy.”

In her capacity at the Presidential Personnel Office, Freedman-Gurspan will aid in recruiting individuals for hire who could potentially serve in various federal agencies.