Matt Vespa - Nice Try: Transgender Woman’s Story About Harassment At North Carolina Bathroom Seems To Be A Lie
Posted: 5/2/2016 8:09:00 PM EST

Oh, here we go again. It’s another story of harassment against the LGBT community that appears to be a tall tale. Transwoman Alexis Adams said she was “humiliated beyond belief” when security guards escorted her out of the Transit Center in Durham, North Carolina. Her offense: using the woman’s bathroom and taking a selfie. Yet, security camera footage showed something very different (via Fox8):

“I couldn’t think. I couldn’t speak. I was speechless,” she said. “It was embarrassing. I was outed in front of everybody.”

The Durham woman said she wanted to make a statement by going into a woman’s restroom and snapping a selfie in the mirror.

She said a custodian confronted her when she came out of the stall and she was escorted out.

The city of Durham owns the Transit Center and recently released surveillance footage of the alleged incident after the original story was aired.

Adams can be seen in the video entering the public bathroom alone. About four minutes later, a custodian enters. Shortly later, Adams can be seen leaving the restroom by herself.

That’s not exactly being escorted out by security, Ms. Adams. When confronted with the footage by Fox8, there was prolonged silence followed by Adams saying, “You had to be there to witness it.” Without a doubt, the LGBT community faces harassment and discrimination, but this story appears to be a hoax. Did Adams not know that there were surveillance video cameras on the premises? Moreover, stories like these make it harder for actual victims of discrimination to come forward.

As Christine wrote, in Austin, Texas, a gay pastor alleged that a Whole Foods baker wrote an anti-gay slur on his cake. As it turns out, the whole episode was a giant lie. First of all, the baker who handled the cake is also part of the LGBT community, so major fail there. Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist broke down this hoax, listing rules for the precious cupcake brigade when it comes to manufacturing a hoax. Rule number one was picking a believable villain.

For Adams, saying “you had to be there” doesn’t cut it. Either security escorted you out, or they didn’t. From the footage, it appears this never happened.

Cortney O'Brien - WSJ: Hillary Has Some 'Explaining to Do' in Coal Country
Posted: 5/2/2016 7:30:00 PM EST

Remember when Hillary Clinton proudly claimed she would put coal miners and coal companies "out of business?" She may have hoped those comments would not be a factor in the West Virginia and Kentucky primaries, but now that the primary schedule has brought her to coal country, it's all too clear that voters have not forgotten her controversial pledge. 

Soon after Clinton made the remarks at a CNN town hall in March, she walked them back, knowing they may come back to bite her in the Appalachia. In a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), she admitted she made a mistake and insisted she had coal miners' backs.

That apparently did little to convince West Virginians. Recently, officials told Manchin the Clintons were "not welcome" in their town and Bill Clinton, who did manage to enter the state, received an icy reception from protesters who interrupted his speech over the weekend. 

As the Wall Street Journal notes, she has some explaining to do

Will Hillary's coal comments jeopardize her chances in West Virginia and Kentucky? Will it matter?

Update: Hillary was also confronted at a campaign stop on Monday by a laid off coal industry worker who asked her how she could dare ask for their friendship. In her response, Clinton insisted her remarks were "taken out of context."

The Republican National Committee released the following statement from spokesman Michael Short, who says that Clinton cannot have it both ways on an issue important to Appalachia voters.

“If Hillary Clinton really stood with coal country she’d be calling on the Obama EPA to stop taking a wrecking ball to their way of life," Short said. "Given her steadfast support for Obama’s War on Coal, her promise to ‘put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business’ may have been one of the few honest moments she’s had this entire campaign.” 

Katie Pavlich - Ben Shapiro: Donald Trump is a Liar and He's Lying to You
Posted: 5/2/2016 6:30:00 PM EST

Is Donald Trump a liar? Yes. Ben Shapiro has all the details surrounding what he's lying about and who he's lying to. 

Christine Rousselle - Poll: Ohioans Want Kasich To Leave The 2016 Race
Posted: 5/2/2016 5:45:00 PM EST

A new poll shows that nearly half of Ohio voters think that their governor, John Kasich, should drop out of the 2016 election. Curiously, more Ohio Republicans want Kasich to drop out than Ohio Democrats. Reasons for wanting him to drop out include concerns that he's neglecting his gubernatorial duties and that he's wasting taxpayer money.

PPP's newest Ohio poll finds voters in the state are getting sick of John Kasich's Presidential campaign. Only 38% think he should stay in the race, compared to 49% who think it's time for him to drop out. Those numbers have shifted substantially from early March when 52% of voters wanted him to continue on in the race and just 34% thought he should drop out. And the numbers for Kasich when it comes to dropping out are actually even worse for him with Republicans than they are with Democrats- 58% of GOP voters in Ohio think it's time for him to let it go, compared to only 33% who think he should stay in.

Kasich has only won his home state of Ohio, but came in second in four of the last five primary contests. He has 153 delegates, which is fewer than the 167 won by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who dropped out of the race in March.

Is it time for Kasich to pack it in? Or should he hold out and try to win an improbable victory in Cleveland?

Katie Pavlich - Ouch: Pro-Abortion Emily's List Just Lost a Bunch of Elections
Posted: 5/2/2016 5:30:00 PM EST

As the country becomes increasingly pro-life, with America's largest generation of Millennials leading the way, the extreme pro-abortion movement is suffering and failing to resonate with voters on election day. 

Last week, the pro-abortion lobbying group EMILY's List got crushed in a series of primaries, prompting supporters to question their strategy moving forward. More from Roll Call

Katie McGinty won Pennsylvania’s Senate Democratic primary last week thanks in part to a major investment from EMILY’s List, which spent nearly $2 million to help her overcome a difficult opponent.

It was the only good news on an otherwise dreadful night for EMILY's List which backs Democratic women who support abortion rights — the group also lost a quartet of races that has Democratic strategists questioning if its political operation requires a strategic reassessment.

Its most high-profile defeat was in the Maryland Senate Democratic primary, where an astounding nearly $3 million spending binge couldn’t prevent Rep. Donna Edwards from falling to fellow Rep. Chris Van Hollen by about 15 points.

But Edwards's defeat wasn’t the only stinging shortfall: Three other House candidates who had been endorsed by EMILY’s List also failed to win nominations in their Democratic primary races. In each case, the endorsed candidate lost badly.

The majority of Americans, including women, believe late-term abortion should be illegal. EMILY's List candidates, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, refuse to detail what, if any, restrictions should be placed on abortions.

Back in 2012 NARAL President Nancy Keenan resigned and lamented about a lack of young pro-abortion leaders to fuel the movement. As the country changes, the abortion movement is suffering from a lack of activists and a lack of single issue, abortion voters.

Matt Vespa - ICYMI: Criminal Justice Reform Nabs Four More Republican Sponsors
Posted: 5/2/2016 5:15:00 PM EST

While the news cycle has been dominated by 2016 election politics, especially the antics of Donald Trump, there’s a critical battle on the Hill that seeks to create a fairer criminal justice system, which currently bleeds taxpayers $80 billion a year. Recently, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 has been subject to discussion among lawmakers, which garnered support from four additional Republican senators­–Thad Cochran (R-MS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK)­–last week.

Holly Harris, executive director of the U.S. Justice Action Network, commented on this development, saying:

American taxpayers are spending too much money locking up too many people for far too long – and we aren’t getting the public safety return we deserve. On behalf of our eight partner organizations representing conservative and progressive views, we applaud Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy and the bipartisan group of Senators who have worked so hard on legislation that safely reduces the federal prison population and makes our justice system fairer and more effective. We urge the full Senate to bring this legislation to a vote.”

Even veterans groups are starting to get behind the effort. On April 14, Dan Caldwell, Vice President for Political & Legislative Action with Concerned Veterans for America met with Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Sen. John Boozman (R-MO). Caldwell also a drafted a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), urging the chamber to move “swiftly” on this bill, especially since the bill includes a provision that would assist veterans released from federal prison.

There has been resistance to this effort from the left and right. During the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference in March, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a Democrat, viewed this as a “Trojan horse” effort that will do nothing but shift costs from the federal level to the state and local municipalities. He also said that there is no such thing as a nonviolent drug offender, and added that statistics don’t mean much to the parent who’s trying to do everything they can to keep their kid safe and alive, while the drug dealer is on the street corner every day. Taking that element off the street is a big deal to those people. That’s a fair point. Things are viewed differently at the street level, but let’s not disregard facts and statistics. You simply can’t in any serious conversation on policy.

At the conference, Townhall ran into Derek Cohen, Deputy Director for the Texas-based Right On Crime, and Joe Luppino-Esposito, a policy analyst with the organization, where they noted that a lot of the rhetoric against criminal justice reform deals with some folks “unable to see the forest for the trees.” Esposito added that there is an argument that taking the low-level drug dealer off the streets might create an aura of safety, but the replacement for that dealer will be on the streets before he (or she) could be processed by authorities. It’s an expensive whack-a-mole game that doesn’t tackle who is really the source of the problem regarding drug trafficking: the kingpins.

Cohen also mentioned that back in the 1980s, we had a spike in violent crime, drug use, and trafficking, though criminology and policy discussions relating to the subject was in its infancy. There were no abstract concepts. Looking back, everyone agrees that the various tough on crime measures did reduce crime by 20 percent—but the question is what accounts for the remaining 80 percent.

Esposito said that it’s here where Clarke’s “we don’t need to be smart on crime, we want to be serious on crime” starts to look like nothing but a good slogan because it’s hard to take someone seriously when you shut yourself off from the facts, and the facts are there. He added that it would make a lot for sense to look at the 40 states that have initiated criminal justice reforms that Right on Crime has advocated to do something serious about crime, incarceration, and the costs associated with both.

Jason Pye, an ally in the criminal justice reform fight and communications director for FreedomWorks, said at the time:

Speaking for FreedomWorks I appreciate David Clarke’s service; I’m sure he means well, but what we know is that the policies of the last three decades have increased the number of prisoners, what we call mass incarceration. We have 2 million people in prison across the country that stay in federal and local jails…we know it costs $80 billion a year. What we’ve seen at state levels, states like Texas and Georgia, they implemented sentencing reforms and corrections reforms that reduced the cost.

Pye added that Texas saved $3 billion over roughly a ten-year period. Georgia started in 2011, and they saved $265 million. These are real savings that could be invested elsewhere. Recidivism rates have dropped–nine points in Texas alone–due to work training, education, and giving them the ability to be productive citizens.

Concerning Clarke’s remarks about statistics not mattering to parents at the street level, Pye said that people in that camp are just making emotional appeals. The argument is that we want our communities to be safe, but what we have seen in Texas (after their 2007 reforms) are crime rates dropping to their lowest levels since 1968.

He also mentioned cases, like Weldon Angelos, who is serving a 55-year jail sentence without the possibility of parole for dealing $1,000 worth of marijuana in three separate police stings, while also possessing a firearm. Yes, Angelos broke the law and deserved to go to prison, but as a first-time offender, did he deserve what’s pretty much a death sentence? When he is released, he’ll be around 80 years old. Even the judge who sentenced him feels the punishment is outrageous (via ABC News):

As a result, Angelos may not live long enough to experience freedom again. His case has haunted the federal judge that put him there.

"I do think about Angelos,” said Paul Cassell, a now-retired federal judge in the Utah circuit. “I sometimes drive near the prison where he’s held, and I think, ‘Gosh he shouldn’t be there. Certainly not as long as I had to send him there. ... That wasn’t the right thing to do. The system forced me to do it.”

[…]

Paul Cassell, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, now teaches law at the University of Utah. But he says the Angelos case still weighs on him, which is the reason he agreed to speak to “Nightline” about his ruling, something federal judges rarely do.

When Cassell delivered his ruling in the Angelos case, he was quick to point out how severe the sentence seemed compared to other, violent crimes.

“If he had been an aircraft hijacker, he would have gotten 24 years in prison. If he’s been a terrorist, he would have gotten 20 years in prison. If he was a child rapist, he would have gotten 11 years in prison. And now I’m supposed to give him a 55-year sentence? I mean, that’s just not right,”

And circling back to the costs, the taxpayers are set to eat a $1.5 million bill for keeping Angelos a guest of the government.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) signaled at the beginning of this year that he will lead the charge against criminal justice reform on Capitol Hill, with Pye commenting that maybe he should consult with his own governor, Asa Hutchinson, who backs such overhauls in our system. He also said that one only has look at Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina - all Republican states that have initiated criminal justice reforms, to see that they’ve reaped public safety dividends.

Keep in mind, no one is advocating that people convicted of drug offenses should be set free or get no jail time, but when the length of prison time for a first-time drug offender exceeds that of a terrorist or a child rapist, there’s something inherently unfair and unjust about that sentence. Moreover, it’s a waste of the taxpayers’ money.

Katie Pavlich - Religious Freedom Around The World Further Declines
Posted: 5/2/2016 4:55:00 PM EST

Just as press freedom around the world has been steadily declining in recent years, religious freedom is also under attack. 

“By any measure, religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault since the release of our commission’s last Annual Report in 2015.   From the plight of new and longstanding prisoners of conscience, to the dramatic rise in the numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, to the continued acts of bigotry against Jews and Muslims in Europe, and to the other abuses detailed in this report, there was no shortage of attendant suffering worldwide," a new report issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom states.  "[These] are crises in their own right which cry out for continued action on the part of the international community, including the United States.   To be effective, such action must recognize the unmistakable fact that religious freedom is a common thread in each of these challenges, and deserves a seat at the table when nations discuss humanitarian, security, and other pressing issues.  The United States and other countries must fully accord this right the respect it deserves and redouble their efforts to defend this pivotal liberty worldwide."

The report suggests the State Department add Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syrian and number of other countries to its list of "countries of particular concern."

"ISIL threatens the region, Iraq’s stability, and human rights and religious freedom for all Iraqis. ISIL’s violent religious and political ideology allows for no space for religious diversity or freedom of thought or expression," the report states. "The group has deliberately expelled minority communities from their historic homelands, forced them to convert to ISIL’s version of Islam, raped and enslaved women and children, and tortured and killed community members, including by stoning, electrocution, and beheading. ISIL has targeted all of Iraq’s smallest religious minority communities; its ongoing actions could well mark the end of ancient religious communities in northern Iraq."

In March, Secretary of State John Kerry officially declared ISIS is carrying out genocide against Christians and other minority groups in Libya, Syria and Iraq.

You can read the entire report here.

Justin Holcomb  - Watch: Trump Supporter Calls Cruz "Lyin' Ted" To His Face
Posted: 5/2/2016 4:30:00 PM EST

A small altercation took place on Monday between a Donald Trump supporter and Ted Cruz that may be a small representation of this year's entire primary race.  

Ted Cruz, the valiant conservative, tried and tried to inform the Trump supporter of his efforts in Washington, D.C. to topple the big-government machine.  

Time and time again, the Trump supporter was not having it and called Cruz "lyin' Ted" repeatedly.  

This is but a small dose of the mood in America.  

Watch:

Justin Holcomb  - Pakistani Interior Minister Not Happy with Trump's Prisoner Comments
Posted: 5/2/2016 3:30:00 PM EST

In a recent interview on Fox News, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said that if elected he would free Shakeel Afridi, a man widely credited for tracking down Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  

Trump said he would get Pakistan to free Afridi "in two minutes," saying that Islamabad receives massive amounts of aid from the United States.

“I think I would get him out in two minutes. I would tell them [Pakistan] let him out and I’m sure they would let him out,” he said.

"Contrary to Mr. Trump's misconception, Pakistan is not a colony of the United States of America," Pakistani Interior Minister Cheudhry Nisar said in a statement on Monday.

“Shakeel Afridi is a Pakistani citizen and nobody else holds the right to dictate to us about his future,” he affirmed.

These statements come on the fifth anniversary of the killing of Bin Laden.

Afridi has been accused in Pakistan of running a fake vaccination campaign in which he purportedly collected DNA samples to help the CIA track down Bin Laden. 

Katie Pavlich - Obama Administration Moves Forward With Stripping Gun Rights Through Social Security
Posted: 5/2/2016 3:20:00 PM EST

Late last week President Obama announced a new push for additional federal "smart" gun technology funding. After grabbing headlines and much attention, the move received praise from gun control groups like Michael Bloomberg's Everytown and criticism from law enforcement, the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

But an issue flying under the radar in Obama's announcement is the Administration's decision to move forward with gun control measures through the Social Security system. Late last year it became clear if an individuals needs financial help managing Social Security benefits, the agency can deem that person mentally unfit to purchase a firearm. This policy is already in place at the Veteran's Administration, where people who have been assigned a "representative payee" have been permanently placed into the NICS background check system as ineligible to purchase a firearm without due process, a hearing or a trial. As background from the LA Times, bolding is mine:

Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others.

The push is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which is used to prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the country illegally and others.

A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to "marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease."

There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.

If Social Security, which has never participated in the background check system, uses the same standard as the VA, millions of its beneficiaries would be affected. About 4.2 million adults receive monthly benefits that are managed by "representative payees."

The move is part of a concerted effort by the Obama administration after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., to strengthen gun control, including by plugging holes in the background check system.

Last week, the Obama administration reiterated plans to push for policies in the Social Security Administration to place those who need a representative payee into the NICS no-buy background check system, stripping their Second Amendment rights without due process.

The Obama administration also posted online Friday a proposed regulation from the Social Security Administration that officials believe could help keep guns out of the hands of people who are not allowed to own a firearm because of mental illness.

A summary of the draft proposal said the Social Security Administration would identify people who receive disability payments because of mental impairment or because they are not competent to handle their own affairs, and would provide information on them to the Justice Department four times a year to include in the F.B.I.’s gun-purchase review system. The Social Security Administration would also notify those people — thought to total about 75,000 — that they are banned from buying or possessing a firearm under federal law.

Needing help to manage one's finances is not mental illness, despite the White House classifying it as such.

The use of the Social Security system to strip elderly persons of their Second Amendment rights when they apply for financial management help is alarming and legislation has been introduced to stop it. 

The Social Security Beneficiary 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act, sponsored by Texas Congressman Sam Johnson, would prevent the agency from placing those who need financial help into the gun background check system. The legislation is waiting for a vote in Congress. 

In the meantime, the Obama administration is using federal agencies to implement unfair, unconstitutional policies that take away the Second Amendment rights of tens-of-thousands of Social Security recipients. 



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