BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Month: June 2014

The Painful Lessons of Thad’s Triumph: The Implications of Cochran’s Win are Far More Consequential Than Those of Cantor’s Loss

Thad Cochran’s triumph over Chris McDaniel in Tuesday’s run-off election in Mississippi was perhaps the most demoralizing of all the primary losses of conservative upstarts versus establishment incumbents this election cycle — both in the closeness of the race and the legal but dubious way in which it was determined by Democrats.

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., addresses supporters and volunteers at his runoff election victory party Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at the Mississippi Children's Museum in Jackson, Miss. Cochran defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, in a primary runoff for the GOP nomination for senate. (Image Source: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., addresses supporters and volunteers at his runoff election victory party Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at the Mississippi Children’s Museum in Jackson, Miss. Cochran defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, in a primary runoff for the GOP nomination for senate. (Image Source: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Unfortunately, I fear that the lessons of Cochran’s victory are far more consequential than those of Dave Brat’s remarkable win over now ex-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia.

The overarching lessons that conservatives should take away from what happened in Mississippi are threefold:

  • Never ever underestimate the power of the GOP establishment, and the number of chits that a politician who has held a seat for 36 years can call in. During such time, Cochran accumulated an infinite amount of political capital that he cashed in on Tuesday, earned by raising millions of dollars and campaigning for colleagues over the years, while loading up bill after bill with pork.
  • The first rule of politics is “win.” Those who comprise the establishment will do everything legally possible to retain power. Such politicians will take advantage of voting rules, parliamentary procedures and any other loopholes they can to gain an edge. In elections, when it comes to below-the-belt tactics, these folks will use people one or two or three degrees removed from them do their bidding so as to maintain plausible deniability and a veneer of dignity. This would explain, for example, the horrifically offensive, anonymously produced campaign literature that reportedly went out in the heavily black, heavily Democratic voting precincts that carried Thad Cochran to victory. For those who are ideologically pure, who do not have a similar party machine and who disavow such unsavory tactics to win, electoral success is made that much harder. They will keep their souls, and others will win elections, to the detriment of the country.

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

Dinesh D’Souza Interview on “America: Imagine a World Without Her”

Jim Geraghty Interview on “The Weed Agency”

An interview with Ben Shapiro on his criminal case against the Obama administration: ‘The People vs. Barack Obama’

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, author most recently of books including “Bullies” and “Primetime Propaganda” has a new book out this week titled “The People Vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration.”

In the book, Shapiro makes the case that the Obama administration has effectively acted as a criminal cabal, necessitating criminal prosecution by individual Americans in lieu of impeachment.

We spoke with the combative author yesterday to discuss the prospect of criminal prosecution against the president, the IRS scandal including its personal impact on Shapiro, President Obama’s illegal arming of terrorists, the prospect of the president granting in effect mass amnesty to illegal immigrants and much more.

Below is our interview, conducted via phone, and edited for clarity and links.

Why should Blaze readers pick up this book?

Shapiro: Because this is a book that not only details all of the problems and scandals inside the Obama administration, but makes the charge that these are criminal problems, not merely political ones, and explains how we can remedy these issues without resorting to impeachment which is an insufficient remedy.

To that end, you are likely familiar with Andy McCarthy’s new book, in which he makes the case for impeachment. One question related to that is, why criminal prosecution over the impeachment route?

Shapiro: Two points: First is, it’s important to start seeing the Obama administration as a criminal enterprise. It’s really the only way to understand what it is that they’re doing. What  impeachment says this is a political problem. This is not a political problem, this is a criminal problem. And detailing it in those terms, in terms of what laws have been broken, is important to understanding exactly who these folks are, and what they’re doing, and exploiting their power. That’s number one. Number two: even Andy makes the case for impeachment but then he doesn’t actually call for impeachment. In the book he says, “Sure we should go ahead and, you know, theoretically the president is guilty of all these crimes and he should be impeached, but then he doesn’t say, “Well, okay so let’s go ahead with impeachment,” because everybody understands, including Andy, that impeachment comes with certain political costs that people are simply not willing to undertake. Impeachment is “pie in the sky.”

In the entire history of the United States we’ve impeached a grand total of 19 people in the House, and we’ve convicted a grand total of eight people in the Senate. And the country has been around for nearly 240 years. You’re talking approximately basically one actual impeachment every thirty years. And this particular solution is supposed to remedy all of the problems with the Obama administration? And even if you were to impeach President Obama, how does that change the honeycombed criminality of the entire administration? Joe Biden takes over and it’s the exact same thing. The whole point here is to change the system of government under which we live. It’s not enough to simply impeach individual officers, it’s not simply enough to impeach one person every thirty years. This requires a broad change in how we view government, and how we treat government when it acts criminally because if the only solution is impeachment, they’re going to get away with an awful lot of criminal activity.

How practically would this work? Typically, I would assume that American citizens wouldn’t have standing to bring a case against the president. Lay out the mechanics for us.

Shapiro: Well actually under RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] standing is significantly less of a problem. So you just have to find somebody who is damaged by the criminal conspiracy. So for example, let’s take a couple very practical examples. Can the family of Brian Terry sue the Obama administration for Brian Terry’s death in Fast and Furious? Right now, the answer is basically no, because suing the executive branch is considered unpalatable, and under RICO law it’s questionable as to how high up the chain you can sue. What I propose is changing the RICO law so that you could sue the President of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States and you wouldn’t have to have direct – what RICO requires is criminal enterprise – meaning everybody has to have the same goal, and everybody has to have participated in the creation of this enterprise towards that goal. That’s a very different standard from, “There has to be a direct piece of paper from President Obama to Eric Holder, and one from Eric Holder to the folks pushing Fast and Furious saying, “You will smuggle these weapons across the border in violation of American law.”

So RICO is significantly broader. It was designed to go after the Mafia, specifically in cases where the Mafia did have plausible deniability. So in that case, clearly Brian Terry’s family has standing, they would be able to sue in what I propose in a RICO case against the Obama administration, and they would be able to win damages against individual officers of the United States.

Same thing would happen with regard to the four folks who died in Benghazi. Their families could sue the Obama administration for negligent homicide for example if RICO was broadened to include negligent homicide which it should be…or violations of the Arms Export Control Act, which is what I have suggested also happened in Benghazi.

The finding of standing is actually not that difficult in most scandals because most scandals actually damage somebody. So my friend Jeremy Boering from Friends of Abe should be able to sue the Obama administration under RICO for violations of IRS law. That’s what I’m proposing.

Read more at TheBlaze…

What one former DOJ lawyer says about who Obama might pardon at the end of his tenure is downright shocking

We recently published an article on the Justice Department’s most dangerous division that you’ve never heard of, based on a stunning chapter from John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky’s new book, “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department.”

On Tuesday we caught up with Mr. von Spakovsky, a former FEC appointee and counsel to the assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in connection with the release of the book to discuss a variety of topics from “Fast and Furious,” to “Pigford,” immigration, the damage done to national security by the DOJ and more.

His response to the question as to who President Obama might pardon at the end of his tenure (hint: it could be a mass pardon that includes the release of serious criminals), was perhaps most shocking of all.

Below is a transcript of our interview, conducted via phone, with slight edits for clarity and links.

Why should every American read this book?

von Spakovsky: Well because the Justice Department is the most powerful federal agency we have domestically. If a federal prosecutor targets you or your business, they can destroy your business, they can throw you in jail. I mean, they have enormous power. And when you have someone who’s willing to abuse that power, it’s extremely dangerous to the freedom and liberty of Americans.

The book sort follows the arc of Eric Holder’s life and tracks his politicization and then how that manifested itself both in the Clinton White House and now throughout the DOJ today. Is there one key takeaway or set of takeaways you’d hope each reader comes away with?

von Spakovsky: The key thing to understand is that what drives Eric Holder, unlike prior Attorneys General of both parties, is not the interests of justice, but it’s politics and ideology. And because of that, he has completely politicized the enforcement of federal laws.

And one of the elements in your book that you speak to is just how far reaching the tentacles of the DOJ spread, and I think you say it’s the largest law firm in the country. Give people a sense as to the size and scope of the powers of the Department of Justice and what areas of society it touches

von Spakovsky: Sure. They’ve got a 27 billion dollar budget. They’ve got more than a 100,00 employees, and they aren’t just lawyers, but they also are responsible, for example, for the FBI. The FBI’s part of the Justice Department, and so is the ATF — Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Also they run all of the federal prisons across the country, and they have this huge program in which they give federal money to state and local police and other agencies all across the country. So really, their fingers are spread throughout the entire law enforcement system from the local cops all the way up to the Feds, including the FBI.

What in your view is the one most dangerous example of lawlessness that exists in the Department of Justice today?

von Spakovsky: I think it’s what the House of Representatives held him [Attorney General Holder] in contempt for the first time in American history – and that was Operation Fast and Furious. That was probably the most reckless law enforcement operation the Justice Department has ever conducted because it actually has led to the death of not just an American agent, but apparently, literally, hundreds of people in Mexico.

Can you walk readers through the key highlights or the key bullet points as to why the concept of gunwalking and the way it was implemented was so lawless and so far reaching in its criminality?

von Spakovsky: The standard way the Justice Department rolls out a drug cartel or a mob organization is, they start with the lower level folks, they arrest them, but then they give them a choice where they will be willing to basically turn in the people above them. And what they do is they roll out the organization starting out at the bottom, getting all the way to the top. But to do that, you’ve got to be willing to catch the lower level people with drugs, or guns, or whatever it is, and arrest them. And in this case, they sold guns to straw purchasers for the drug cartels, but then didn’t arrest them, and most importantly, didn’t follow the guns as they passed through the levels up to the highest levels of these cartels so that they could arrest the folks at the top. They just basically lost track of them as soon as they had been purchased. It wasn’t just reckless, it was “felony stupid” as Chairman [of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee] Issa of the House of Representatives has said.

Read more at TheBlaze…

Dinesh D’Souza’s dire warning: Americans ‘are being prepared for a political and financial shakedown’

In connection with the release of his new book “America: Imagine a World Without Her,” we conducted an interview with bestselling conservative author, filmmaker and recent Real News guestDinesh D’Souza.

In the interview, we covered such topics as the left’s disingenuous championing of the “little guy,” the twisted historical narrative being taught in schools today, illegal immigration, the man who shaped the dastardly tactics of both the current…and if the left gets their way, future president, D’Souza’s upcoming movie and much more.

The transcript of our interview, conducted via phone, can be found below. The interview has been modified for clarity and links.

And for more content like this, follow Blaze Books on Facebook and Twitter.

In your book, you take on the left on their own terms, focusing on those at the bottom of society, or as the left describes it, looking at “history from below.” Why did you choose to go that route?

D’Souza: The left is very successful at appealing to the principle of justice, and justice for the man lowest down. Sometimes, as conservatives, we miss the force of that. We reply by chanting “Liberty!” But we have to remember that justice is a key principle. Right, the Pledge of Allegiance: “With liberty and justice for all.” So we can’t ignore justice, and what I do in the book and film is to engage the left on its own terms. I go “Ok, let’s really look at whether or not America has been good for the common man.” Forget about the rich guy, he’s going to do well everywhere. Let’s judge a society by the kind of life it makes available to the ordinary fellow. So I’m willing to argue that the left is actually attacking ordinary people.

Let me give an example of what I mean. The left says that the wealth of America is stolen. So here’s the first question: Who stole it? Was it the one percent? Now if we look at American history, who are the people who moved West and displaced the Indians? The immigrants. Who are the people who benefited from slavery? Well everybody who bought a cotton shirt. Who are the people who defeated the Mexicans in the Mexican War? Ordinary immigrants and settlers.

So the point is that the critique of America is not one that is aimed at wealthy aristocrats who had beautiful cottages or mansions on the East Coast. The progressive critique is an attack on the immigrants themselves – it’s an attack on people like me. And so, what I’m doing here is making a defense of the ordinary American against these malicious charges that are leveled by the left, which are untrue and the prelude to shaking us down economically.

You frame that thesis, ironically enough, around two Frenchmen, Alexis de Tocqueville and Michel Foucault. Can you expound upon the dichotomy represented by these two men — and the “spirit of 1776″ versus that of 1968?

D’Souza: Yeah, we see the “spirit of 1776″ and 1968 by looking at two French guys, both of whom came to America at very different times. Tocqueville came in the early 19th century, and what he saw was the American founding principles in action, basically half a century after they had been put into effect. And what Tocqueville noticed was that America was a very entrepreneurial society, America was a society where people rely very little on the government, and America is a society deeply infused with Christian values. So Tocqueville saw, if you will, conservative America. Now, fast-forward 150 years when Michel Foucault came to America in the 1970s. And what he liked about America – he, like Tocqueville, grew to love America — but he loved America because he saw America as a mecca of gay liberation. The things that Tocqueville saw about America, like its entrepreneurship or its Christianity, Foucault hated. He hated that America. But what he liked is a different America, that he saw in the Castro district of San Francisco, which he called “laboratories of sexual experimentation.” So these are really two different Americas. In Foucault, you get just a glimpse of a different kind of America that progressives might prefer to the principles of 1776.

In moving from the 1776 ethos to that of 1968, you speak to Saul Alinsky’s playbook. And one of the things you say, and something that I hadn’t seen elsewhere, is that Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” effectively are derived from the same playbook as that of the devil, which kind of explains why he dedicated “Rules for Radicals” to Satan. Can you expound upon that?

D’Souza: Well, something strange is going on here because Alinsky was obviously not a Christian; in fact, he was an atheist. So why would an atheist dedicate a book to Lucifer? I think to discover the answer, you have to pay careful attention to what Lucifer represents in the Western tradition. So I did a close reading of Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” and you begin to see how Lucifer operates. First of all, Lucifer is a master of organizing resentment, and so is Alinsky. Lucifer is also a master at making G-d the bad guy. So even though Lucifer rebels against G-d, even though G-d justly expels Lucifer from Heaven, Lucifer goes, “G-d, you’re a tyrant. I don’t have to follow you. I want my own kingdom.” So Lucifer practices, you may say, demonization against G-d. And finally, Lucifer is a liar. He is a master of dishonesty and deceit.

Now, Alinsky adopted these Luciferian techniques, and so, for example, Alinsky openly advocates deceit. He tells the radicals of the ‘60s, “You know you people are middle class, but you hate the middle class, you hate middle class values, and that’s very good. But what you should do is pretend to be a friend of the middle class, pass yourself off as middle class, and use your position in the middle class to rub raw the sores of discontent. Try to radicalize the middle class by feigning or pretending to share their values.” And I think here, we begin to see the Obama and even the Hillary playbook, which is to say the ways in which Hillary and Obama both started out as Bohemians or Hippies, and then quickly adopted the Alinsky-ite approach of as Alinsky says “dressing square:” Seeming very respectable, being very self-disciplined, and ultimately pretending to be a friend of the middle class, whose values you are trying to undermine.

Read more at TheBlaze…

An interview with the man who literally wrote the book on impeaching President Obama, former fed prosecutor Andrew McCarthy

We conducted an interview with former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, author of the new book, “Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment,” in which we covered a number of controversial issues, including the case for impeaching President Obama, the Bowe Bergdahl terrorist exchange, Benghazi and Hillary Clinton, and the government’s efforts to chill free speech.

The below reflects a transcript of the interview, conducted via phone, which is slightly modified for clarity and links.

For more content like this, please give Blaze Books a follow on Facebook andTwitter.

Who is “Faithless Execution” intended for, and why should both President Obama’s critics and proponents pick it up?

McCarthy: The book is intended for the public broadly, because I really thought and continue to think that there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding generally about what the standards are for removal of a president from power, what the wages are of having a lawless president, and what the arsenal is that Congress has to respond to it. It seems that there’s a lot of frustration on the part of people with the fact that the president doesn’t seem to be bound by the law, or certainly doesn’t take himself to be bound by the law, and people seem very frustrated that there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about it. And point of fact, there’s a lot that can be done about it, but there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there about what the remedies are. So, what I hope the book will be is a corrective for people in general about what ways presidential lawlessness threatens the Republic, and what responses the Framers put in place that we could use to combat it.

The central point of your book hinges on the notion that impeachment is both a legal but more importantly political remedy. Thus, despite the merits of the case against President Obama, all is moot without their being broad political support for such proceedings. Can you expand on the thesis, explain why impeachment is primarily a political remedy, and provide a little bit of the history behind impeachment itself? 

McCarthy: Impeachment has two components. There’s a legal component to it in the sense that the Constitution has a threshold or a standard that applies to presidential malfeasance or maladministration – I guess maladministration is a better term because the Framers weren’t just concerned about corrupt behavior – they were concerned about a president who was in over his head so gross ineptitude even if it was well-meaning was something they were very concerned about simply because the presidency that they created was so powerful, and had so much potential to harm the republic that they were concerned about having someone who was unsuited in that position – whether it was unsuited because of corruption or simply because of reasons of incompetence. They had a straightforward legal test for what would be required to remove a president. Treason and bribery are straightforward enough – they’re actual crimes that have a lot of history and people understand them. The thing that people generally have some confusion about are high crimes and misdemeanors, and maybe it’s because of the phrase itself because it mentions “crimes and misdemeanors,” so people naturally think of penal statutes where Congress has enacted laws that qualify as felony criminal offenses or misdemeanor offenses. And that’s not what high crimes and misdemeanors is really about at all.

What the framers discussed when they adopted this standard — and it was very much on their mind because they were all men of the world, they were all men who followed current events, many of them were steeped in British law — at the time the Constitution was being debated in the Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings was ongoing in England, where Edmund Burke had led the effort in Parliament to have him impeached on the basis of high crimes and misdemeanors, so it was a phrase, and a term that was very well known to the Framers. And what it really means is, as Hamilton put it, political wrongs, or the offenses of public officials in whom high public trust is vested. So, it doesn’t have to be statutory offenses, and in many ways it’s easier to understand it in terms of the military justice system rather than the civilian penal justice system because it embraces concepts like dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming of an officer, and the like. It really is about a breach of trust and there is no more trust in our system than what’s reposed in the president, who by the way is the only one in the government who constitutionally is required to take an oath of office of the kind that’s spelled out in the constitution, which requires him to swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. The failure to do that, more than any statutory offense, was something the Framers were much more concerned about.

So the legal test of high crimes and misdemeanors is pretty straightforward. If you have situations where the president violates the trust of the American people by undermining our system and its checks and balances, those would qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors. A president who is dishonest with the public or dishonest in reporting important matters of foreign affairs to Congress and the like would be guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. A president who is derelict in his duties as commander-in-chief is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors even though there is no penal offense in the federal code that would match up with that. But the Framers were also very concerned that impeachment not be the result of partisan hackery, trivial offenses, or matters of factions (so the president’s part of one faction, Congress is controlled by another, and they can impeach him just for those political and power reasons).

Read more at TheBlaze…

 

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