Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Polygamy, Gay Marriage, and the Role of Government

International Liberty

Since I’m a bit old-fashioned, I think polygamy is rather weird.

And it would also be a practical nightmare. Thinking about it from a guy’s perspective, imagine having to remember multiple birthdays and anniversaries?

Not to mention dealing with a more complicated approval process if you want to get permission to join another softball league or take an out-of-town trip!

To be fair, polygamy could also mean one wife and multiple husbands, but what woman would want to subject herself to that burden?!?

She wouldn’t even know who to blame if she found the toilet seat in the up position.

But let’s look at the issue from a more serious perspective, especially because of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on gay marriage.

In a column for Politico, Fredrik deBoer argues that polygamists should also be allowed to marry.

Welcome to the exciting new world of the slippery slope…

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Student Bullied by Anti-Religious Hostility at University of Wisconsin

original article: Student Bullied by Anti-Religious Hostility at University of Wisconsin
June 24, 2015 by Liberty Counsel

Baraboo, WI – Liberty Counsel demanded the University of Wisconsin reverse its professor’s viewpoint discrimination and open hostility toward religion that occurred when Professor Annette Kuhlman threatened her student, Rachel Langeberg, with a failing grade for a group project unless she removed a Bible reference from a class presentation at the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County.

When reviewing Langeberg’s sociology group project, Professor Kuhlman wrote, “…the University of Wisconsin is a secular institution. Religious contemplations and the bible [sic] belong to a different realm and not academic sources. So your argumentation along Christian lines, including the slides you designed in relation to it, are [sic] inappropriate for this presentation. I will not allow you to present unless you change this. You will also fail your presentation if your discuss religion in connection with it.” After Ms. Langeberg tried to resolve the matter by meeting with the professor and Dean Tracy White, to no avail, she contacted Liberty Counsel.

“Dr. Kuhlman’s review crossed the line from scholarship to censorship,” said Liberty Counsel Attorney Richard Mast. On numerous occasions, the Supreme Court has upheld students’ First Amendment rights in the public schools. The Constitution does not “require complete separation of church and state; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any.” Lynch v. Donnelly. Moreover, “teachers must be sensitive to students’ personal beliefs and take care not to abuse their positions of authority.” Farnan v. Capistrano.

“Students do not lose their First Amendment rights when they sign up for classes at the University of Wisconsin,” said Mast. “It is blatantly unconstitutional to restrict student religious speech or threaten a failing grade for religious content, where the speech or content is otherwise academically appropriate for the assignment,” Mast concluded.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

We need a separation between school and state.

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Why is there so much fraud in pro-gay research?

It is a testament to the power of propaganda to see how the gay agenda has successfully shut down debate in the name of freedom. Any disagreement about the new definition of marriage, any question about the nature of biology is quickly met with derision or even discrimination. People have lost their jobs over having a politically incorrect opinion of gay marriage (even when no actual anti-gay discrimination occurred). Because tolerance, or something.

So while bullying and abuse are frequently used on one side of the coin of “gay rights”, on the other side we have fraudulent propaganda.

Researcher accused of fraud in gay marriage study responds to critics

Science journal retracts gay-marriage study after evidence of fraud

Journal Science updated its guidelines because of LaCour’s fraud

Homosexual Fakes Support by Defaming Local Churches

Hoax: Man who claimed he was attacked for being gay admits to staging incidents

Born Gay Hoax: Studies Debunked

It says a lot about a movement that must rely on lies and bullying to promote itself. We are ironically told by gay marriage supporters to “think”. Well, I am thinking. That’s the problem. Actually thinking through these issues does not naturally lead to the conclusion gay activists want. So dissent has to be shut down. Any differing opinion must be silenced. Threats and coercion are perfectly viable methods of promoting this great cause. Only a pro-gay marriage attitude is allowed. Any diversity of thought is to be ridiculed as bigotry or hate. Because, tolerance.

The media’s positive treatment of gays, rooted in a shameful past

Author’s Views on Gay Marriage Fuel Call for Boycott

Age of intolerance: What the Indiana pizza attacks tell us about free speech

Chick-fil-A Thrust Back Into Spotlight on Gay Rights

Newspaper faces firestorm after attempted crack-down on anti-gay marriage op-eds

So gay marriage is here. What happens next? Now that we’ve invited the government back into the bedroom, where does it go from here?

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Born Gay Hoax: Studies Debunked

Conservative Colloquium

BY RYAN SORBA

Chapter 3
The Studies: Debunked

By 1986 the born “gay” hoax had been born, and was growing fast. The resulting public relations campaign fooled millions of people around the world into accepting unnatural and inherently dangerous sexual behaviors as natural. In the wake of Ulrichs’s latter-day apostles, Kirk and Madsen and their influence on the culture, many came to believe that they themselves were born “gay.” Same-gender sex activists capitalized on multiple pseudo-scientific studies to mislead the public. The following analyses, will debunk every study of this sort, beginning with the three most cited.

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Can a professor be a full fledged idiot, too? Watch political pandering masquerading as scholarship.

Some leftists think they have more in common with radical Islamists than they have with Republicans. They may be right about that.

original article: ‘Right wing extremists’ more dangerous than radical Islam, according to NY Times
June 17, 2015 by Michael Schaus

Pay no attention to those beheading plots, attacks on “Draw Muhammad” contests and the occasional bombing at the Boston Marathon.

The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from radical Islam, but from “right wing extremists,” two professors claimed in an opinion piece published Tuesday in The New York Times.

Despite a slew of recent high-profile cases — such as the Garland, Texas, attack where two Muslim terrorists bent on mass murder were stopped only by the accurate shooting of an alert police officer — Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer wrote in the Times that “headlines can be misleading.”

Claiming the real threat to peace in America comes from domestic politics, the two University professors say radicalization from the Middle East is a concern, but “not as dangerous as radicalization among right wing” groups in America.

The pair drew their conclusions from a survey of 382 law enforcement agencies and from follow-up interviews with 19 agents from across the nation, citing one police officer who said “we just haven’t experienced” any terrorism from American Muslims.

Which is true… if you don’t consider the previously mentioned attacks in Garland, the shooting at Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon bombing, or any of the foiled Islamic terrorist plots since 9/11.

Kurzman and Schanzer also cited a Department of Justice memo that warned law enforcement about the danger of citizens who “fear that government will confiscate firearms” or believe “in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.”

The Times’ piece listed a string of little-known attacks by “right wing extremists,” including an attack on police in Nevada by a disturbed couple who had affiliations with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

The two academics tried to justify their assertions by portraying all acts of “anti-government violence” as being linked with right wing political ideology.

“An officer on the West Coast explained that the ‘sovereign citizen’ anti­government threat has ‘really taken off,’” they wrote.

The Times’ piece ends with a plea to begin scrutinizing political groups, while relaxing the focus on potentially radical Islamic communities.

“Public debates on terrorism focus intensely on Muslims. But this focus does not square with the low number of plots in the United States by Muslims, and it does a disservice to a minority group that suffers from increasingly hostile public opinion,” they wrote.

The New York Times isn’t the only place to find an op-ed on terrorism that’s more afraid of American conservatives than ISIS killers, but it’s the most prominent — and one of the most dangerous.

Any wonder Barack Obama loves the rag?

UPDATE: 74 children executed by ISIS for ‘crimes’ that include refusal to fast, report says

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Freddie Gray Autopsy Report leaked after being hidden for two months

original article: Freddie Gray Autopsy Report Deals Blow to Murder Charges
June 24, 2015 by Andrew C. McCarthy

Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby has withheld the autopsy report on Freddie Gray from defense counsel and the public for nearly two months. It is the report on which she relied to file murder and other charges against six police officers, even though the investigation into Mr. Gray’s death was not close to being complete.

Now, just two days before Friday’s court deadline for the state to disclose the report to the defense, it has been leaked to the Baltimore Sun.

The Sun’s story makes it easier to understand why Ms. Mosby wanted the autopsy kept under wraps. It raises additional disturbing questions about her case — a case in which she has already had to dismiss false-imprisonment charges, the untenable nature of which I explained when Mosby filed them.

It turns out that Mr. Gray “tested positive for opiates and cannabinoid.” Moreover, he carried on wildly when initially placed in the police van. It had previously been widely reported that he was not belted into his seat, a violation of recently adopted Baltimore police policy that Mosby dubiously makes the plinth of her case. The Sun’s latest dispatch, however, indicates that Gray was making matters difficult for the police: “yelling and banging, ‘causing the van to rock,’ the autopsy noted.”

The van made several stops during its 45-minute ride. At the second one, six minutes after the arrest, Gray was reportedly “still yelling and shaking the van.” Police thus removed him and placed him in leg restraints — ankle cuffs, to go along with the handcuffs that had already been applied. Gray was “then slid onto the floor of the van, belly down and head first,” according to the autopsy report, which gingerly adds that he was, at that point, “still verbally and physically active.”

It’s now easier to understand why Mosby wanted the autopsy kept under wraps: It raises additional disturbing questions about her case.

It was after this, the medical examiner concluded, that Gray suffered a severe spinal injury (which led to his death, a week later). At some undetermined point during the van’s journey, he was catapulted by the force of its deceleration and crashed into the interior. The injury is likened to a “shallow-water diving accident.”

Significantly, however, the medical examiner, Carol H. Allan, surmised that Gray probably could not have sustained his severe injuries if he’d remained in the prone position the police had put him in.

The Sun report elaborates:

While it’s possible Gray was hurt while lying on the floor and moving back and forth, Allan determined that his body likely couldn’t have moved in that position with enough force to cause his injuries. Allan surmised that Gray could have gotten to his feet using the bench and opposite wall. With his hands and ankles restrained, and unable to see out of the van and anticipate turns, she said, he was at a high risk for an unsupported fall.

Thus, the most likely scenario is that Gray, under the influence of narcotics and in the course of making his transport difficult for the arresting officers, elected on his own to get to his feet despite the difficulty of doing so. Under circumstances where his arms and legs were restrained, Gray’s decision to change the position the police had put him in rendered him vulnerable to the “high-energy” injury he sustained.

This is not to say the police should not have done a better job of securing Gray. But we are not talking here about whether they violated procedure and prudence. We are talking about whether their conduct warrants prosecution for murder and lesser forms of culpablehomicide.

The driver of the van, Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., is charged with depraved-heart murder in the second degree. In his case, the question is whether he acted with such wanton indifference to Gray’s life that his conduct should be considered just as blameworthy as if he had fully intended to kill Gray. As one Maryland court has instructed:

This highly blameworthy state of mind is not one of mere negligence. It is not merely one even of gross criminal negligence. It involves rather the deliberate perpetration of a knowingly dangerous act with reckless and wanton unconcern and indifference as to whether anyone is harmed or not. The common law treats such a state of mind as just as blameworthy, just as antisocial and, therefore, just as truly murderous as the specific intents to kill and harm.

It is blatant overreach, on the facts spelled out in the autopsy report, to describe Goodson’s conduct as the “depraved heart” equivalent of willfully murdering Freddie Gray.

Also suspect are Mosby’s charges of involuntary manslaughter against Goodson and three other cops — Lieutenant Brian W. Rice, Sergeant Alicia D. White, and Officer William F. Porter. Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another by a negligent act, which can include the failure to perform a legal duty.

Obviously, the prosecutor’s claim that Goodson acted negligently contradicts her claim, in the murder charge, that he acted with a degree of depravity functionally equivalent to intentional killing. That aside, Mosby’s manslaughter case hinges on two police omissions: the failures to secure Gray in a seatbelt and to get him sufficiently prompt medical attention.

Gray was arrested at about 8:40 a.m. on April 12, after he’d fled in a high-crime area upon making eye contact with Lieutenant Rice. It was Rice who ordered Goodson to take Gray to the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center. It was also at Rice’s direction that the recalcitrant Gray was placed in leg restraints and belly down during the van’s afore-described second stop, shortly after the arrest. To repeat, the autopsy indicates that Gray would not have sustained his fatal injuries if he had remained as Rice had positioned him; nevertheless, Rice is charged with manslaughter.

Police stopped three additional times to monitor Gray during the van ride. Before considering them, it is worth noting that checking on a prisoner repeatedly and attempting (however insufficiently) to assist him are hardly consistent with Mosby’s suggestion that the cops were flippant about his condition.

The medical examiner believes the severe injury — after Gray stood up on his own — occurred sometime after the second but before the fourth stop. On the third stop, Goodson merely eyeballed the back of the van from the outside, taking no further action. A few minutes later, he made the fourth stop, during which he again checked Gray. This time, he called for assistance.

It arrived in the form of Officer Porter. Though he is charged with homicide, this marks Porter’s first appearance in the case: He had no involvement in the arrest, and did not participate in the positioning of Gray prior to Gray’s injury.

The prisoner was apparently lying on the floor, complaining about difficulty breathing and moving. He asked for a doctor, but Porter instead helped him up and seated him on the rear compartment’s bench, enabling Goodson to continue the ride. For that decision, Porter is charged with manslaughter — even though Gray was communicative and able to move with assistance; even though Porter may have concluded (perhaps reasonably, even if incorrectly) that it made more sense to have the van take Gray the short remaining distance to Central Booking, where any necessary help would be available, than to wait for a medic.

It was after this stop that a radio call went out for another arrestee to be picked up nearby. The proof of Goodson’s purported depravity includes his decision to respond to that call, because it necessarily delayed by a few minutes the provision of medical attention to Gray.

That brings us to the final stop, where manslaughter defendant White makes her first appearance in the case. In the course of loading the additional prisoner into the van, Sergeant White and other officers noticed Gray slumped against the bench and appearing “lethargic with minimal responses to direct questions.”

White — who, like Goodson, is black — is apparently charged with manslaughter, despite her dearth of participation in the police interaction with Gray, because she allowed the van to continue the short remaining distance to Central Booking, rather than stopping to summon a medic. The Sun’s account does not tell us whether it would have taken less time for a medic to get to the scene than for the van to meet a medic at Central Booking — much less whether the few minutes lost, if any, would have made any difference at that point. That, in any event, is the sum total of Mosby’s allegation that White caused Gray’s death.

Causation is not a small matter. Prosecutors have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in a homicide case. If Gray’s own actions, particularly those in contravention of what the police were trying to get him to do, materially contributed to his severe injury or broke any chain of causation attributable to the police conduct, the homicide case collapses.

Put another way, Ms. Mosby’s case appears to be very thin . . . and that’s before experienced defense lawyers have even begun to pick it apart.

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Hillary tapped Media Matters to cover for Benghazi while still Secretary

original article: Benghazi panel probes Sidney Blumenthal’s work for David Brock
June 17, 2015 by KENNETH P. VOGEL and RACHAEL BADE

While still secretary of state, Clinton emailed back and forth with Blumenthal about efforts by one of the groups, Media Matters, to neutralize criticism of her handling of the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, sources tell POLITICO.

Republican members of a special congressional committee spent hours on Tuesday grilling Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal about the inner workings of the Clinton’s philanthropic and political operations, going well beyond the 2012 Benghazi attacks that the committee is charged with investigating, according to sources familiar with the hearing.

A particular focus during Tuesday’s closed-door deposition was a network of groups founded by Clinton enforcer David Brock that — POLITICO has learned — paid Blumenthal more than $10,000 a month as they defended Hillary Clinton against conservative attacks, first while she was secretary of state and then as she prepared for and ultimately entered the presidential campaign.

While still secretary of state, Clinton emailed back and forth with Blumenthal about efforts by one of the groups, Media Matters, to neutralize criticism of her handling of the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, sources tell POLITICO.

“Got all this done. Complete refutation on Libya smear,” Blumenthal wrote to Clinton in an Oct. 10, 2012, email into which he had pasted links to four Media Matters posts criticizing Fox News and Republicans for politicizing the Benghazi attacks and challenging claims of lax security around the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, according to a source who has reviewed the email exchange. Blumenthal signed off the email to Clinton by suggesting that one of her top aides, Philippe Reines, “can circulate these links,” according to the source.

The emails were not included in documents originally turned over by the State Department. The Select Committee on Benghazi obtained the emails through subpoena. And the committee’s Republican members spent much of Tuesday’s nine-hour-session pressing Blumenthal about his role in producing the posts, and his tangled web of business and personal relationships in the Clintons’ orbit and beyond, according to sources.

In addition to Blumenthal’s role at Media Matters, he was involved with the Brock-founded groups American Bridge and Correct the Record, he worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and then afterward at the $2 billion Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation (which paid Blumenthal about $10,000 a month even as he was on Brock’s payroll). During this time, he also advised a pair of businesses seeking potentially lucrative contracts in Libya, while sharing intelligence on the country with Clinton while she was secretary of state.

Republicans privy to the Benghazi committee’s strategy say it’s important to map out Blumenthal’s many affiliations in order to understand the motivations for the counsel he provided to Clinton, and the degree to which she relied on it. But Democrats argue that Tuesday’s questioning shows that Republicans are conducting a politicized fishing expedition intended to damage Clinton’s presidential campaign and its supporters.

Brock, informed Wednesday by POLITICO of the committee’s line of questioning, called it ironic.

“The Republicans asked more about what our groups do to debunk their false claims about Benghazi than about the attacks in Benghazi? That sounds like a bizarre waste of time,” Brock said. “All our work is made public. And I’d be happy to give Chairman Gowdy a tour of our offices at his convenience,” Brock said, referring to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who chairs the Benghazi committee.

A Republican congressional source defended the questioning. “Your background is always relevant: where you worked and who was paying you during that time period? So while he was sending information to Secretary Clinton … you have to ask: Who was paying your salary?” said the source. “He was at one point working for Media Matters, Correct the Record and American Bridge, and some of those entities have quite a bit to say about Benghazi.”

Under Republican questioning, Blumenthal suggested he was merely forwarding the Media Matters posts about Benghazi to Clinton but had no role in writing, editing or placing them.

And when Republicans asked him why he seemed to take credit for such posts in his email, he said he may have overstated his role, according to separate sources familiar with the questioning.

“So the next question is: What did you ‘get done’?” one source said, referring to Blumenthal’s own words from his email. “And he stumbled over that.”

Some of the Media Matters posts Blumenthal forwarded, which were published in the weeks after the attacks, criticize Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) for suggesting the Obama administration tried to cover up the events around the attack and for blaming the State Department for failing to implement sufficient security at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

One post in particular accused Chaffetz of “fundamental hypocrisy” after he admitted in a CNN interview that he had previously voted to cut embassy security funding.

Chaffetz chairs an oversight committee that previously examined the attacks but ceded jurisdiction late last year to the select committee, so he was not present for Tuesday’s hearing. But during the hearing, sources said Gowdy, who is close friends with Chaffetz, suggested Media Matters’s scrutiny bothered the Utah Republican.

Another GOP select committee member asked whether Blumenthal wrote or edited a statement released Monday by Correct the Record that chided the committee for subpoenaing Blumenthal. The statement said Blumenthal “has not one thing to do with what happened in Benghazi or the government’s reaction to it,” and it called the committee “disgraceful” and “a political sideshow,” suggesting a more accurate name for it would be the “Select Committee to Destroy Hillary Clinton.”

Brock said that Blumenthal had no role in Monday’s release scolding Gowdy’s committee, but otherwise declined to comment on Blumenthal’s role.

Sources who have worked with Brock’s groups, however, say that Blumenthal offered high-level strategy and messaging advice on numerous subjects and participated in weekly strategy calls with Brock and other top group officials. The Benghazi debate almost certainly would have been discussed in those calls, said the sources, since it became a major focus of Brock’s groups, which in 2013 helped Brock pen a book called “The Benghazi Hoax.”

Blumenthal’s ideas for Brock’s groups would often be passed along to staff members and were sometimes greeted by eye rolls, said an operative who interacted with Brock and Blumenthal. But, the operative said, “Brock respects and trusts him a lot. And he surely feels he owes him a lot, as well.”

A Clinton loyalist who first earned the family’s trust as an aggressive combatant in the political battles that buffeted Bill Clinton’s presidency, Blumenthal helped recruit Brock to the cause in the late 1990s. After spending much of the decade as a self-proclaimed right-wing hit man and Clinton antagonist, Brock publicly renounced the right and reinvented himself as a liberal crusader against conservative attacks. Brock is now close to the Clintons, and he and his groups are central players in a constellation of big-money outfits supporting Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“It was Sid who basically made David’s current life possible, in many ways,” the operative said.

Blumenthal remains a paid consultant for Media Matters and American Bridge. Since about 2010, the groups have combined to pay Blumenthal more than $10,000 a month, though the payments are impossible to track since they’re made almost entirely through arms of the groups that do not disclose detailed information.

That income was supplemented by the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which began paying him about $10,000 a month starting in 2009 — not long after he stopped working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. That arrangement, which ended in March of this year, came at the behest of former president Bill Clinton, for whom Blumenthal had worked in the White House. It appears to have taken shape after Hillary Clinton’s effort to hire Blumenthal at the State Department was rebuffed by top aides to President Barack Obama.

The reason Blumenthal initially came into the select committee’s sights was the Libyan intelligence he emailed to Clinton while she was secretary of state. On Tuesday, he testified that he received the intelligence from a business contact and wasn’t being paid to pass it along to Clinton, according to sources.

But scrutinizing Blumenthal’s work for Brock’s groups and the foundation allows the Benghazi committee a lens into the Clinton political and philanthropic operations, which could provide fodder for campaign trail attacks. Democrats argue that’s the committee’s real motive.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Blumenthal chafed at the committee’s focus on his political work.

“It seems obvious that my appearance before this committee was for one reason and one reason only … politics,” he said. The panel spent “hours asking me questions about things that had nothing to do with Benghazi,” he said, adding, “I hope I have cleared up the series of misconceptions some members of the committee may have held. … My testimony has shed no light on the events of Benghazi — nor could it, because I have no firsthand knowledge.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a Clinton email as a response to the Blumenthal email.

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IRS destroyed evidence in anti-Tea Party probe

original article: Watchdog to reveal evidence was destroyed during probe of IRS targeting
June 24, 2015 by Fox News

A congressional hearing Thursday morning is expected to reveal evidence was destroyed during the investigation into the IRS targeting scandal, months after the agency was told to preserve documents, Fox News is told.

J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, is expected to tell the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee his office found no direct evidence the destruction was intentional.

But the destruction nevertheless defied a preservation order, and is sure to raise suspicions over motive.

The IG will specifically reveal that IRS employees erased computer backup tapes a month after officials discovered thousands of emails related to the tax agency’s Tea Party scandal had been lost.

As many as 24,000 emails were lost because 422 backup tapes were erased.

George says those tapes “most likely” contained emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, who has emerged as a central figure in congressional investigations.

A source familiar with the matter told Fox News that the hearing will show the evidence was destroyed 10 months after a preservation order for the emails; seven months after a subpoena; and one month after IRS officials realized there were potential problems locating certain emails.

Fox News is told the destruction of evidence also occurred about three weeks before IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified to Congress that they would provide documents to Congress.

Further, the IG is expected to conclusively testify that the IRS never looked at five of the six potential places where the emails might have been stored.

An IRS spokeswoman told the Associated Press Wednesday evening the agency had no immediate comment.

George set off a firestorm in May 2013 with an audit that said IRS agents improperly singled out Tea Party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections.

Several hundred groups had their applications delayed for a year or more. Some were asked inappropriate questions about donors and group activities, the inspector general’s report said.

Lerner used to head the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. In June 2014, the IRS told Congress it had lost an unknown number of Lerner’s emails when her computer hard drive crashed in 2011.

The IRS had discovered that the emails were lost in February 2014. A total of 422 computer backup tapes were erased a month later, George says in his testimony, and those tapes probably contained additional Lerner emails.

The IRS says it has produced 78,000 Lerner emails, many of which have been made public by congressional investigators. IRS officials said no more could be recovered.
George, however, said the IRS never examined backup tapes that ultimately produced more than 1,000 additional emails.

George started investigating the lost emails last year after the IRS announced they were destroyed. His testimony before the Oversight Committee summarizes the results of the investigation.

George says the workers who erased the computer tapes were unaware of a 2013 directive from the agency’s chief technology officer to halt the destruction of email backup tapes.

“The investigation uncovered testimony and e-mail traffic between IRS employees that indicate that the involved employees did not know about, comprehend or follow the chief technology officer’s May 22, 2013, e-mail directive to halt the destruction of e-mail backup media due to ‘the current environment’ and ongoing investigations,” George says in his testimony.

After George’s initial report, much of the agency’s top leadership was forced to retire or resign, including Lerner. The Justice Department and several congressional committees launched investigations.

Lerner emerged as a central figure in the controversy after she refused to answer questions at two House Oversight hearings, invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself at both hearings. At the first hearing, Lerner made a statement saying she had done nothing wrong.

Last year, the House voted mostly along party lines to hold her in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions at the hearings. The U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia declined to prosecute her.

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White House tried to hide extent of Personnel hack

White House reportedly hid extent of Office of Personnel Management hack
June 25, 2015 by Fox News

The Obama administration reportedly concealed the true amount of information compromised by a cyberattack on the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for several days after the initial disclosure of the hack, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the day after the White House admitted that hackers had breached personnel files, OPM publicly denied that the security clearance forms had been compromised despite receiving information to the contrary from the FBI. The administration did not say that security clearance forms had likely been accessed by the intruders until more than a week had passed.

A OPM spokeswoman denied the claims, telling the Journal the agency had been “completely consistent” in its reporting of the data breach.

The Journal, citing U.S. officials, reported that lengthy period between disclosures was the result of a decision taken by both White House and OPM officials to report the cyberattack as two separate breaches, one of the personnel files and one of the security clearance forms. That meant that rather than saying the hack may have compromised the information of approximately 18 million people, including some who have never worked for the government, OPM initially said that only about four million people were affected.

By contrast, the paper reports, FBI officials who had to speak to lawmakers about the incident, including director James Comey, defined the theft as the result of one breach.

On Wednesday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz asked whether the true number of people affected could be as high as 32 million, and called for OPM Director Katherine Archuleta to step down.

“I think you are part of the problem,” Chaffetz told Archuleta during a hearing. “That hurricane has come and blown this building down, and I don’t want to hear about putting boards up on windows (now). It’s time for you to go.”

In her testimony, Archuleta said the estimate of 18 million people affected “refers to a preliminary, unverified and approximate number of unique Social Security numbers in the background investigations data … It is a number I am not comfortable with.”

However, the Journal reports that  in a private briefing with lawmakers Tuesday, a senior FBI official interjected and told Archuleta the number was based on OPM’s own data.

Investigators believe that China was behind the cyberattack, which was discovered in April. If the security clearance forms were compromised, information about espionage operations could be exposed. Beijing has strongly denied any role in the hack.

corruption, cover up, criminal, Democrats, espionage, ethics, foreign affairs, government, hypocrisy, lies, national security, pandering, politics, president, propaganda, scandal, security

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A one-size-fits-all education doesn’t fit all

original article: Why ‘Cookie Cutter’ Public Schools Don’t Cut It For This Mom of Seven
June 24, 2015 by Kelsey Harkness

Liz Robbins was caught off-guard when a Washington, D.C., area code appeared on her phone.

“I apologize,” she said. “With the surgery … I had been emotional right before you called.”

Robbins was answering the phone from Henderson, Nev., a short drive from Las Vegas. When the 202 area showed up, she thought it was the hospital calling, where her 19-year-old daughter, Amber, had just undergone a surgery.

Trying hard to hold back her emotions, Robbins politely asked to reschedule the interview about Nevada’s newly-enacted school policy giving parents control over how to spend their children’s education funds.

It was too much for this particular Friday, which was more normal than Robbins might like to admit.

But before hanging up, Robbins began explaining the reason why her daughter was undergoing surgery (due to complications related to Ehler-Danlos syndrome, which is an incurable degenerative condition that affects the joints and skin).

In the middle of discussing the disease, Robbins paused.

“Let’s do the interview now,” she said. “This is important.”

Instead of spending the next 30 minutes helping one daughter cope with surgery and another prepare for her wedding that was taking place the next day, Robbins spent them talking to a Washington, D.C., reporter about why her family desperately needed access to an alternative education option called education savings accounts.

And now, thanks to a bill passed by Nevada state legislators earlier this June, they did.

(Photo: Robbins family)

Education Savings Accounts and Their Impact

Education savings accounts are an outgrowth of the school choice movement that, by literally giving parents an “education debit card,” allows them to craft a customized education plan to meet their children’s specific needs.

By giving her access to state education funds that would have otherwise been spent in their assigned public school, parents with children enrolled in Nevada public schools can spend money on tuition and fees at an approved private school, tutoring services, textbooks, and so forth.

To offset repercussions of lower enrollment in public schools, local and federal government education dollars will still feed into the public school system. (Typically, public schools receive combined funding by local, state and federal governments.)

For Robbins and her seven children, who range in ages from 8 to 26, the program will be life-changing.

“If you have a health challenge but you’re still a college-bound student, there are no options for you in our district,” Robbins said. “You are just on your own.”

Two of Robbins’ daughters are affected by the inherited connective tissue disorder. Because of extensive surgeries, medical tests and debilitating symptoms, they’ve missed entire years of school at a time.

“Children with health problems … they are forgotten in the school districts,” Robbins said.

Amber is now taking college courses online and was still able to graduate a valedictorian and receive a five—the highest score possible—on her AP government/law exam, despite the challenges she faced.

“She has a medical condition but she is still a bright, articulate student,” Robbins said.

While teachers worked with Amber to turn in assignments remotely, Robbins said her daughter did not receive “one day of tutoring” while she was out her senior year.

“That is a tragedy,” Robins said.

With education savings accounts, Robbins will now have a whole host of education opportunities available to her youngest children, who are also at risk for developing the condition as their bodies develop.

How Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts Work

Nevada’s education savings account differs from those set up in Arizona, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee, all of which have stringent requirements for the type of students who are eligible. In Nevada, the only requirement is that students must be enrolled in the public school system for at least 100 days.

If everything goes according to plan, parents will be able to access the accounts at the beginning of next year.

On average, parents will receive about $5,100 per year, or 90 percent of the state’s per-pupil spending amount. (The total per-pupil spending amount in Nevada is approximately $8,400, or about $3,300 more than the amount of the education savings accounts grants.)

>>> Read More: Nevada Becomes Fifth State to Enact Groundbreaking Education Savings Accounts

(Photo: Kelsey Lucas/Visualsey)

“[Education savings accounts] are going to start an education revolution,” Robbins said.

“And that education revolution is going to force the public school system to begin to modify itself.”

Rallying Against the Revolution

Robbin’s inkling towards an “education revolution” is precisely what has many organizations and teachers unions rallying against it.

Many traditional advocates of public education fear that education savings accounts will strip public schools of already limited funding, and legitimize whatever curriculum a parent wants—say, a Biblical teaching that runs contrary to the public school curriculum—at the taxpayer’s expense.

In Arizona, which was the first state to set up education savings accounts, no mass exodus occurred when education savings accounts were signed into law back in 2011.

This year, 230,000 students were eligible, and only 1,300 participated. But since its inception, the program has become so popular that eligibility was expanded four times to include children entering kindergarten, with special needs, from underperforming schools, from active-duty military families, in foster care, of fallen soldiers and from tribal lands.

Organizations like the American Federation of Teachers and the Nevada State Education Association, which is a union of more than 3 million teachers in the state, argue the program is “dangerous” and could devastate traditional public schools.

Neither organization responded to The Daily Signal’s request for an interview, but in a statement to Politico, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said earlier this year that education savings accounts create an “unregulated, unaccountable market.”

“Instead of the exit strategy from public education that these programs represent, we need a renewed commitment to strong neighborhood public schools for every child,” he said.

On June 10, 2010, the family celebrates Lindsey Robbins' high school graduation. (Photo: Robbins family)

A Rising Tide

School choice advocates believe the introduction of education savings accounts will create competition, which will better education for all students, including those who remain in public schools.

“By allowing all students to attend private school, Nevada has introduced an element of competition into its public school system,” said Chantal Lovell, communications director for the Nevada Policy Research Institute, which supports the school choice initiative. Lovell added:

In the coming years, we should see all schools in Nevada—public and private—improve as they compete for students and the dollars that now follow them. It’s a phenomenon similar to what we see when a new restaurant opens in a community that previously had very limited and mediocre dining options.

Every year since 1994, Robbins has had at least one child enrolled in Dooley Elementary, which is located in one of the largest school districts in the country. In 2014, the K-12 school was named a Blue Ribbon School. This award is given by the U.S. Department of Education to schools for their academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps among students.

Despite having the privilege of being able to send her children to a nationally recognized school, the “cookie cutter design,” Robbins said, isn’t cutting it.

“We’re unusual,” she said. “Lots of children have different ways of learning and we need to be able to find ways to bring out the best in every child. And at a large school system that’s a cookie cutter design does not do that.”

children, civil rights, conservative, diversity, education, freedom, funding, innovation, reform, right wing, video

Filed under: children, civil rights, conservative, diversity, education, freedom, funding, innovation, reform, right wing, video

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