Warner Bros. Releases Trailer For Chris Kyle Film, “American Sniper”

If the trailer is any indication, Clint Eastwood knocked it out of the park with his upcoming film “American Sniper,” which is about the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper, who became the most deadly sniper in U.S. history while serving four tours of duty in Iraq. While the film details his mission abroad protecting his “brothers-in-arms,” it also shows him facing a different type of battle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cooper told reporters at the film’s premiere that it was “just an honor” to play Kyle, who was killed last year, but acknowledged the pressure of the role. “It was the responsibility I had to his family to preserve his legacy that weighed on me,” he said.

But he didn’t disappoint.

"Initially I was so focused on Chris and making sure that it honored him, but I just lost myself. It was so Chris. It wasn't Bradley on the screen. It was Chris,” Taya Kyle told the Military Times.

She continued: "I left [the private screening] feeling like a weight had been lifted. They really pulled it off. It's an authentic, genuine look at two people who love each other and what our veterans go through and what they carry ... how they take their home life to the battlefield and take the battlefield home."

The film comes out Christmas Day in New York and Los Angeles, and will be released everywhere January 16, 2015.

Michelle Nunn Will Probably Run Again Soon

Yes, despite her eight-point loss to Senator-elect David Perdue, Michelle Nunn did strong enough to remain at the top of the contender list for future elections in Georgia. She brought in more than $14 million dollars by the time her failed senate campaign came to a close–and her “retail skills” even impressed Republican operatives, according to Roll Call.

Yet, the article also noted that 2016 might be too soon for Nunn to toss her hat back into the ring; the popular Sen. Johnny Isakson announced he would be seeking another term in office:

Nunn’s loss pumped the brakes on the Peach State’s potential transition into a swing state. Still, even Republicans concede a booming population in the Atlanta suburbs, particularly among minorities, portends more competitive statewide contests at some point in the future, even as the rest of the South continues to slip away from Democrats.

Her next campaign, at this point, isn’t likely to come in 2016, with the well-liked Isakson having already announced he intends to seek re-election. A second straight loss could damage her ability to clear the primary field in a more promising opportunity in the future, though Isakson lost twice statewide before his election to the Senate in 2004.

“Do you work to energize the base in the next election or do you work to win over independent and swing white voters? That’s the debate we’re having now,” said Rashad Taylor, a Georgia Democratic consultant at Mack Sumner Communications and a former state representative. “However we come out we’ll be in a better position in 2016 than we were this year.”

The current state party chairman, DuBose Porter, could face a challenge from Tharon Johnson, who was President Barack Obama’s Southern regional director in 2012. Both Porter and Johnson told CQ Roll Call Nunn would be an attractive candidate for any race in the near future.

Taylor said if 2014 were not a national wave year, both Nunn and [Jason] Carter, who lost his challenge to Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, would have performed better — and most are optimistic about the next presidential election year. If Nunn declines to challenge Isakson in 2016, the next Senate race won’t come until 2020, when Perdue is up for re-election and Nunn is six years removed from her last race.

The other notable option for Nunn is an open gubernatorial race in 2018.

While Roll Call mentioned the demographic changes in the Atlanta suburbs, the state really isn’t moving towards the Democrats in any timely fashion; it’s not even gravitating towards the center (via WaPo):

[T]he racial composition of Georgians is clearly changing. Nate Cohn reports that the share of registered voters in Georgia that is white declined from 72 to 59 percent over the past decade. Data from Alan Abramowitz strongly implies that generational replacement is at work. He reports that nearly 3 of 4 active registered voters older than 65 are white while less than half of those under 30 are white. Patterns like these, combined with the noncontroversial observation that whites are more Republican than nonwhites imply that the future may not be as good to the Republican Party in Georgia as the recent past.

However, the demographic change underway in Georgia does not appear to have had much, if any, net effect on Georgia’s “red state” status. At least not yet. To see this, consider a standard measure that political scientists, journalists and other election experts often use: the difference in vote shares received by the major-party presidential candidates. In 2012, President Obama lost Georgia by 7.8 percentage points and won the national popular vote by 3.9 points. Thus, in 2012 the margin in Georgia was 11.7 points more Republican than in the country overall. The figures for the 2008, 2004, 2000 and 1996 elections are 12.4, 14.2, 12.2 and 9.7, respectively.

Thus, in light of the demographic changes, Georgia’s lack of movement toward the Democrats poses a puzzle. Perhaps the most obvious answer is that while the nonwhite population is growing, the white population has continued to become even more Republican. Or, nonwhites in Georgia may be less Democratic than they were in the past. Of course, these are just conjectures. With more data, a persuasive answer should emerge.

It’s hard to see how any significant trend towards the left in Georgia. As FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten wrote over the summer, “No Democrat holds an elected statewide office in Georgia. No Democrat has won a U.S. Senate race in the state in 14 years. No Democrat has won a presidential race in the state in 22 years.”

Nevertheless, Nunn will most likely return for another crack at a statewide office in the coming years.

The Interview: These Are The Ends

I don't like Seth Rogen. I don't like James Franco. Their brand of comedy is unappealing to me. I would have loved to not see their movie. And I am loathe to participate in any conflict that will place me on their side.

Nonetheless, that's were we find ourselves. I'm in the corner with James Franco and Seth Rogen. In the other corner are North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un with his legion of hackers, and the anti-political correctness police who roam Twitter.

The new Rogen/Franco joint, The Interview, looks terrible. It also was the reason given behind the massive Sony Entertainment hack, with the culprits reportedly North Korean government agents. And Sony agreed not to release the movie to kowtow to the demands and threats of those North Koreans.

Beyond having regular old bad jokes, The Interview also contains tasteless jokes, sexist jokes, and un-politically-correct jokes. For these latter sins, its removal from the theaters, by any means necessary, is a net good for the world. At least by the standards of Twitter's PC police.

Ebony senior editor Jamilah Lemieux lamented the mourning of the death of The Interview in a series of tweets, saying that those who put the movie in the category of "art" are like "petulant trust fund kid[s] who can't be held responsible for anything," and that The Interview's defenders hold up the "art" defense as a shield from criticism:

.

Freelance journalist Aura Bogado, who has written for The Nation and Colorlines, echoed a similar sentiment. After saying "Good riddance" to the film, she responded to someone asking if pulling a movie in response to North Korean threats sets a bad precedent by saying that defending a movie by "two white men objectifying Nikki Minaj's..." is not productive.

The point that comes across here is that, for Twitter's PC police, it's more important that The Interview doesn't see release than the means by which the movie is shut down. It doesn't matter that a sadistic small-minded dictator has succeeded in getting a crummy movie* dropped; it only matters that the movie is dropped and that Rogen and Franco's casual sexism won't be inflicted on the world. The ends may not justify the means; the ends merely render the justice of the means irrelevant.

Defenders of The Interview aren't saying that art should not be subject to criticism. They're saying that terrorist threats are not a legitimate reason to shut down a display of art, no matter how dumb that particular art form seems to be. Some people think interpretive dance isn't art; some people think the Piss Christ is not art; some people think that video games aren't art. Regardless of the merits of any of these media, terrorism is not a good reason to abandon their pursuit. Bowing to terrorism is notable - and is more important than even the potential misogyny of a film.

An alternate timeline that did not involve North Korea might see The Interview get released, do mediocre numbers at the box office, get roundly denounced as juvenile, crude, and misogynistic** by critics, and maybe even marginally - in some small way - incentivize film studios not to produce things that are juvenile, crude, and misogynistic. Maybe (probably?) that won't happen, but as it stands, the movie studios aren't being punished for making a bad movie, they're being punished for making fun of a totalitarian dictator. There's no way that a North Korean-spurred movie cancelation moves our culture to a more just place. There is a chance - perhaps small, but nonetheless a nonzero one - that the spectacle of a movie that is crude, juvenile, and misogynistic that bombs at the box office and is roundly denounced actually does accomplish what these writers want to accomplish.

Furthermore, and this can't be emphasized enough, we have private American companies bowing to the terrorist threats of a totalitarian dictator. This should shock us, as members of a western liberal democracy - and it certainly matters that we have Americans cheering the decision and ignoring the means by which it was accomplished.

They may not be endorsing the means by which a dislikable movie has been removed from the market, but it should still surprise us that they're ignoring those means. We might have one fewer bad movie to watch out for - but we also have set a precedent for our artistic autonomy to be subjugated by a terrorist foreign power. This was a bad week for American expression.

* Editors' note: I have not seen The Interview. Noah from Hot Air denounced commentators attacking the movie without having seen it. If you want to preface every adjective I use for the movie in this piece with "I think it looks," that would be fine, but was awkward to write. For all I know, it could subvert my expectations (that's happened before, after all).

**Note 2: Again, I have no way to judge if the movie actually is crude, juvenile, and misogynistic, but I'm granting those premeses here to take on those authors' arguments.

Have You Met...Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the December issue of Townhall Magazine. 

One day when he was a child, Rep. Richard Hudson’s (R-NC) dad dropped him off at a garbage site where he helped pick up trash until his father returned. It was a wakeup call, the congressman said. That day, he learned the importance of working for a living.

“My dad taught me the value of hard work,” Hudson told Townhall.

He would later accept jobs roofing buildings as a teenager and continued to harbor an impressive work ethic well into his adult years. He opened his own small business called Cabarrus Marketing Group, which offered business development services. Hudson said it was a “one-man ship,” but the trying role taught him more than just leadership skills. Running a business also proved to him just how much of a burden the government can be to entrepreneurship. He said a good chunk of his time was spent combing through government regulations. It's no different today. The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, more commonly known as Dodd-Frank, Hudson explained, is one specific piece of legislation that has hampered small businesses.

“There's uncertainty in access to capital, and Dodd-Frank went way too far. Today, you can’t start a business unless you can self-finance.”

Dodd-Frank wasn't the only bill to come out of the Obama White House that has hurt small businesses. Obamacare has unleashed its own barrage of setbacks. The president's signature health care legislation forces businesses to offer health insurance to workers once their number of employees exceeds 50. What's more, the law also defines a full-time employee as someone who works more than 30 hours. Because of these regulations, many employers have fired employees or reduced their hours to avoid the added costs. Hudson shared a personal example to demonstrate Obamacare's real life negative effects on today's job market.

“I know one developer who said he’s never sat on more cash because his accountants can’t tell him what his health care costs are going to be next year.”

Instead of investing money in his company, buying new materials, or hiring new employees, this developer was forced to hold on to his money because of the Affordable Care Act’s not so cost-effective consequences.

In addition to small businesses, Hudson is also a champion for free speech. In 1954, Congress passed the Johnson Amendment, which states that people who are exempt from federal income tax cannot take part in any political campaign. President Lyndon Johnson had a specific demographic in mind when he originated this legislation, Hudson explained. After several pastors criticized the president for his leadership, he introduced the Johnson Amendment, prohibiting them from speaking their minds about political candidates in front of their congregations. More than 1,800 pastors have participated in Pulpit Freedom Sundays this year to protest the Johnson Amendment. Now, in his own effort to counteract this direct threat to the First Amendment, Hudson is an original cosponsor of the Pastor Free Speech Act, legislation that ensures pastors don't lose their free speech as soon as they step behind the pulpit.

Hudson has other legislative efforts for which he can be proud. He chairs the Transportation Security Subcommittee and in that role he managed to get an acquisition reform bill for the TSA passed out of the House. This piece of legislation increases transparency and requires the TSA to be forthcoming about its expenditures. He worked with Democrats on the bill and it passed unanimously. He describes it as a conservative reform bill that passed in a bipartisan effort.

The congressman isn't satisfied yet. This year, Hudson’s goal is to enact the Sunset Law, a bill that would do the seemingly impossible: Put a handle on bureaucracy.

“The law would put an expiration date on government departments," he explained. "It would offer some serious oversight. I am convinced this would have the biggest impact on the way things work in D.C.”

In a way, you could say Hudson is still cleaning up garbage.

FLASHBACK: Al Sharpton's Marchers in New York City Chant "What Do We Want? Dead Cops!"

As Obama civil rights advisor Al Sharpton frantically tries to distance himself from the revenge execution style slayings of two NYPD officers Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, keep in mind that just one week ago protestors at his march in New York City were chanting, "What do we want? Dead cops! When do what them? Now!" 

The protesters were part of Al Sharpton’s “Million Marchers” protest against police violence. The protesters chanted “What do we want?… Dead cops!” as they marched in New York City.

Meanwhile, former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik is accusing Sharpton and NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio of having blood on their hands. 

"In this circumstance I believe, I personally feel, that Mayor de Blasio, Sharpton and others like them, they actually have blood on their hands,” Kerik said. “They encouraged this behavior. They encouraged protests. These so-called peaceful protests that, where people are standing out there saying ‘kill the cops.’”

“Well, I hope they’re happy, because they got what they wanted,” Kerik added.

H/T Gateway Pundit

Damage Control: Left Issues Slew of Statements After Execution Style Police Killings

After months of stoking anti-police sentiment across the country, far-left organizations, leaders and government officials are in damage control mode, releasing a slew of statements in response to the execution style murders of uniformed NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn by a man claiming revenge for the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. 

President Barack Obama (who made a statement hours after being briefed on the golf course in Hawaii about the incident): 

Attorney General Eric Holder:

“I condemn this afternoon's senseless shooting of two New York City police officers in the strongest possible terms. This was an unspeakable act of barbarism, and I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of these two brave officers in the line of duty.

“On behalf of all those who serve in the United States Department of Justice, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the officers' loved ones and colleagues. I will make available all of the resources of the Department to aid the NYPD in investigating this tragedy.

"This cowardly attack underscores the dangers that are routinely faced by those who protect and serve their fellow citizens. As a nation we must not forget this as we discuss the events of the recent past. These courageous men and women routinely incur tremendous personal risks, and place their lives on the line each and every day, in order to preserve public safety. We are forever in their debt.

"Our nation must always honor the valor -- and the sacrifices -- of all law enforcement officers with a steadfast commitment to keeping them safe. This means forging closer bonds between officers and the communities they serve, so that public safety is not a cause that is served by a courageous few, but a promise that's fulfilled by police officials and citizens working side by side."

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio:

Our city is in mourning. Our hearts are heavy. We lost two good men who devoted their lives to protecting all of us. Officer Ramos, Officer Liu died in the line of duty, protecting the city they loved. Our hearts go out to their families, to their comrades in arms at the 84 Precinct, to the larger family of the NYPD. We honor the EMTs, the doctors, the nurses, everyone at Woodhull who tried valiantly to save their lives and couldn't. I want to thank everyone who came here today to support these families that are in such pain right now. All the leadership of the NYPD, the elected officials who are here – I thank them for coming here in solidarity with these grieving families and our police department. Although we are still learning the details, it's clear that this was an assassination – that these officers were shot, execution-style – particularly despicable act, which goes at the very heart of our society and our democracy. When a police officer is murdered, it tears at the foundation of our society. It is an attack on all of us. It's an attack on everything we hold dear. We depend on our police to protect us against forces of criminality and evil. They are a foundation of our society, and when they are attacked, it is an attack on the very concept of decency. Therefore, every New Yorker should feel they, too, were attacked. Our entire city was attacked by this heinous individual.

Even though the assailant took his own life, we'll be vigilant for any information about anyone else who might be involved. And this is a point to make clear to all my fellow New Yorkers – that any time anyone has information that there might be an attack on our police, there might be an act of violence directed at any police officer, it is imperative that that be reported immediately. You heard the commissioner outline the tragic timeline, but anybody who sees a posting on the internet or any other indication of an intention to attack the police must report it immediately. Call 9-1-1. Report it to a police officer. But whatever the situation, that information must get into the hands of the police immediately, so we can protect the lives of our police officers and, in fact, of all of us, since they protect us.

There is a sadness that is very, very hard to describe. Commissioner Bratton has felt it many times. I have felt it many times. We met the family members. We met the parents of Officer Liu, the woman he recently married. We met the wife of Officer Ramos. We met his 13-year-old son, who couldn't comprehend what had happened to his father. And with other public servants, and with leaders of this police department, we prayed over the bodies of these two officers. And I ask that all New Yorkers pray for them, pray for their families. It's a moment of terrible loss and it's a moment when we must all come together to support these families, to support healing, and to be thankful that there are heroes among us, like Officer Ramos and Officer Liu.

De Blasio must have missed the "peaceful" protestors in New York marching with Al Sharpton last week chanting, "What do we want? Want dead cops! When do we want them? Now!" 

The protesters were part of Al Sharpton’s “Million Marchers” protest against police violence. The protesters chanted “What do we want?… Dead cops!” as they marched in New York City.

De Blasio also missed this woman.

Rev. Al Sharpton: 

"I have spoken to the Garner family and we are outraged by the early reports of the police killed in Brooklyn today, Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.

We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown. We have been criticized at National Action Network for not allowing rhetoric or chanting of violence and would abruptly denounce it at all of our gatherings. The Garner family and I have always stressed that we do not believe that all police are bad, in fact we have stressed that most police are not bad.

We plan to hold a press conference in the morning to express our outrage and our condolences to the families and the police department. Details to follow."

ColorofChange: 

“The ColorOfChange community is deeply saddened to learn about the killing of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn and the attempted killing of the shooter’s ex-girlfriend. It is a tragedy anytime a life is lost to senseless violence. We send our heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the two officers that lost their lives today.

“Our community knows all too well the grief and heartache associated with losing a loved one to violence. Today is another tragic reminder that we have an enormous amount of work to do to keep our communities safe. We condemn any and all forms of violence, including violence perpetrated by and against police officers.

“ColorOfChange will continue to support peaceful protesters fighting for a higher standard of policing in cities across the country. The deaths of these officers in the line of duty should not result in retaliation or more militarized, violent attempts by law enforcement to suppress protests or target civilians. We caution the efforts by police unions and others to draw misleading connections with this tragedy to the growing nationwide movement to hold officers accountable.

“We urge the media to push back against claims not rooted in facts. This is a sad and terrible incident that troubles all of us working for more just and safer country"

#BlackLivesMatter: 

"Our hearts grieve with New York, a community already reeling from the losses of Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham, Kimani Gray, Akai Gurley, Islan Nettles and many more. An eye for an eye is not our vision of justice, and we who have taken to the streets seeking justice and liberation know that we need deep transformation to correct the larger institutional problems of racial profiling, abuse, and violence.

"We know all too well the pain and the trauma that follows the senseless loss of our family members and loved ones. We extend our hearts and prayers to the families of those who lost their loved ones this week. No one should suffer the loss of those whom they love.

"At the heart of our movement work is a deep and profound love for our people, and we are rooted in the belief that Black people in the U.S. must reassert our right to live be well in a country where our lives have been deemed valueless. Together, we champion a complete transformation of the ways we see and relate to one another.

"Now is our moment to advance a dramatic overhaul of policing practices. Now is the time to direct more resources into community mental health services and practices. Now is a moment for empathy and deep listening. Now is the time to end violence against women and trans people. Now is our moment to come together to end state violence.

"Our movement, grown from the love for our people and for all people, will continue to advance our vision of justice for all of us. Let's hold each other close as we work together to end violence in our communities—once and for all."

Ferguson Action: 

"We are shocked and saddened by the news of two NYPD officers killed today in Brooklyn. We mourned with the families of Eric Garner and Mike Brown who experienced unspeakable loss, and similarly our hearts go out to the families of these officers who are now experiencing that same grief. They deserve all of our prayers.

"Unfortunately, there have been attempts to draw misleading connections between this movement and today's tragic events. Millions have stood together in acts of non-violent civil disobedience, one of the cornerstones of our democracy. It is irresponsible to draw connections between this movement and the actions of a troubled man who took the lives of these officers and attempted to take the life of his ex-partner, before ultimately taking his own. Today's events are a tragedy in their own right. To conflate them with the brave activism of millions of people across the country is nothing short of cheap political punditry.

"Elected officials and law enforcement leaders must not allow this narrative to continue, as it only serves to heighten tensions at a time when the families of those killed are in mourning.

"We stand with the families in mourning, we stand united against senseless killings, and we stand for a justice system that works for all."

The narrative has already become that the perpetrator who carried out the assassinations and eventually killed himself is unrelated to the cases of Michael Brown or Eric Garner, but the Instagram account of the murderer states otherwise.

"I'm putting wings on pigs today, they take 1 of ours....let's take 2 of theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner #RIPMichaelBrown This may be my final post. I'm putting pigs in a blanket."


WATCH: NYPD Officers Turn Their Backs on NYC Mayor De Blasio

Shortly after the horrific murders of NYPD police officers in Brooklyn yesterday, New York City Mayor De Blasio did not receive a warm welcome when he entered Woodhull Hospital for a press conference. NYPD police officers in the room turned their backs on the mayor and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton as they walked into the room. 

As a reminder, De Blasio recently slammed the New York police to the media, essentially called them racists and accused them of being responsible for the "distrust" in local communities. UPDATE: He also explained to the press how he warned and "trained" his son to be afraid of police. 

Police unions, which have been angry for weeks, are accusing De Blasio of having "blood on his hands"  for the recent slayings.

A written message from Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, addressed the mayor directly. “Mayor de Blasio,” it read in part, “the blood of these two officers is clearly on your hands.”

Naturally, after police refused to face De Blasio as he entered the room, his press secretary lashed out and accused officers of "irresponsible" behavior.

Asked on Saturday about the turned backs and union messages, Phil Walzak, the mayor’s press secretary, said it was “unfortunate that in a time of great tragedy, some would resort to irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that angers and divides people.”
De Blasio didn't speak for long at the press conference last night and deferred to Commissioner Bratton, but not before saying "We're all in this together," which was met with the response, "No we're not" by an officer in the room.

Tragedy: Murdered NYPD Police Officers Taken From Wives, Child Days Before Christmas

Earlier today in Brooklyn, two New York City police officers were shot execution style in broad daylight by a gang member from Baltimore. The officers were killed while sitting in their patrol car. They were in the area working overtime and participating in an anti-terrorism exercise. They didn't have the chance to pull their weapons in defense. 

Their names were Officer Wenjian Liu and Officer Rafael Ramos. Officer Liu was recently married and is survived by his wife. Officer Ramos turned 40 on December 12 and leaves behind his wife and 13-year old son. 

Rest in peace PO Rafael Ramos and PO Wenjin Liu.

May they rest in peace.

Horror: Two Police Officers Murdered in Brooklyn

Editor's note: This post has been updated.

Tension between citizens and the police has been at an all-time high in recent months, considering the fallout from grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers who felt they were justified in killing unarmed black men. But this relationship took another tragic turn today, when two New York police officers were shot and killed while sitting in their squad car in Brooklyn. More from the AP:

An armed man walked up to two New York Police Department officers sitting inside a patrol car and opened fire Saturday afternoon, striking them both before running into a nearby subway station and apparently committing suicide, police said.

One law enforcement officer told the New York Post that this was an 'execution.' As for the executor, he is dead:

The suspected gunman fled to a nearby subway station at Myrtle and Willoughby avenues, where he was fatally shot. Preliminary reports were unclear on whether he was shot by police or his own hand.

On his Instagram page, the murderer bragged about getting 'revenge' for the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York. 

Whether it was rioting and looting in Ferguson, Missouri, then blocking traffic and shutting down bridges in New York City, protesters have made themselves heard. How sad, however, that things have come to this.

Some are blaming the media and the federal government for encouraging an anti-cop mentality:

Others are wondering whether this fatal shooting will get as much media coverage as the tragic cases of Michael Brown or Eric Garner:

Michael Brown and Eric Garner should not be dead. They should certainly be remembered. But taking more lives is not the answer. Pray for the NYPD. 

Here Are The Emails Between UVA And Rolling Stone

We all know that Rolling Stone’s UVA story is a complete disaster. Though have no fear; Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely, who botched the original story, is re-reporting…on her own discredited piece.

To add to the history of shoddy journalism that surrounds this piece, the Federalist published the findings from their FOIA request regarding email exchanges between Rolling Stone and the University of Virginia last night. Most of it surrounds writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely trying to set up a one-on-one interview with university president Teresa Sullivan, which didn’t go as smoothly as Rubin had hoped. The Federalist’s Sean Davis wrote that:

Erdely bristled when told she would not be given a private, one-on-one meeting with Teresa Sullivan, the UVA president.

“I do hope that my interview with President Sullivan will be one-on-one,” she wrote, “as I don’t generally conduct interviews with PR people sitting in.”

Her complaints continued in a separate e-mail to UVA officials.

“As for the presence of other people during the interview: If that’s the only way I’ll be allowed to talk to President Sullivan, then so be it,” Erdely wrote. “But I imagine a university president is fully capable of getting through a phone conversation on her own, without help.”

Additionally, Mollie Hemingway, also of the Federalistwrote that in one email exchange between UVA and Rolling Stone fact-checker, Lisa Garber-Paul; they told her that a case Erdely was referencing in her piece was “objectively false:”

Even though Garber-Paul at no time asked about any of the anecdotes in Erdely’s reporting, the University of Virginia repeatedly told Erdely and Garber-Paul that the facts of one case she was talking about were mistaken. Anthony Paul de Bruyn [University Spokesperson] wrote to Garber-Paul, “It has been brought to our attention by a few students that Sabrina has spoken to that she is referencing an incident where a male student raped three different women and received a one-year suspension. “This is in fact objectively false.”

So, while this latest development isn't exactly a bombshell, over at the Washington Post, former editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Lexington-Herald Leader, Amanda Bennett wrote that Will Dana, RS’s Managing Editor, has done untold damage to everyone involved with this story and should resign for journalistic negligence. Also, she noted that a story having a strong narrative isn’t a bad thing, but without facts; it’s just bias:

Allowing the narrative to take control is what crowds do. It is what mobs do. It is what despots and tyrants do. It is what, unchecked, we all will do.

There is nothing wrong with pursuing a strong story, or even with having a strong point of view. Advocacy demands it. And journalism, like science, is often at its best when pursuing a powerful thesis statement.

But a strong narrative without the underpinning of facts is bias. And bias can morph in the blink of an eye into destruction, fear and suspicion.

You, Will — as editor of a major publication with huge readership and huge credibility — had an obligation to do one thing well, and that was to find out what really happened. Everyone should do this before they make up their minds, forward a post, condemn an actor, a politician, a school, a system. For you, Will, whose publication commands so many resources and so much respect, that was your primary obligation. To temper the narrative with the truth. And it was to do so before you passed this story on to others.

Buying into a story, as your official statement says you did, based on your feelings that it is “credible” is buying into a narrative. And narrative ungirded by facts is bias. The most basic fact-checking involves reaching out to the other side. And that, you tell us, you did not require the reporter to do.

So, Will, if your temptation down the road is to seize on whatever facts your investigation uncovers to say: “See? We told you. We were right all along” — don’t. Just don’t. Instead, look at the harm that you have done by buying into the narrative and not checking the facts.

If it turns out that “Jackie” is a troubled young woman who has turned some trauma in her life into a gruesome fantasy tale, then you have committed the sin of exploitation. Deep, thorough reporting would have exposed the fault lines in the story and spared her and you. If your reporting finds that Jackie is credible and her story, despite inaccuracies in details, is largely accurate, then you have committed another sin by handing detractors of the issue the crowbars with which to pummel your — and her — account. No matter what you find, it is hard to imagine that you will ever restore the story to the credible status that you once believed it deserved.

As I’ve said previously, this isn’t about the hoax of campus rape, rape apologists, or the patriarchy. It’s about bad journalism. Jackie could have been sexually assaulted in some fashion that night. The allegations that she was forced to perform oral sex on five men could be true. Yet, because of RS’s irresponsible reporting, that possible truth is irreparably damaged.

Rolling Stone-UVA E-mails

'Police Brutality' Protesters Still Shutting Down Bridges

It is over two weeks ago now that a grand jury in New York decided not to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner in a chokehold, yet protesters are still making themselves at home on our nation's freeways and bridges. This time, they took over Manhattan Bridge. The New York Times has the details:

Hundreds of people involved in two demonstrations marched onto the Manhattan Bridge on Friday night, snarling Brooklyn-bound traffic, the authorities said.

The Office of Emergency Management took to Twitter to urge drivers to use alternate routes.

Pictures and videos posted to social media show protesters on the bridge who had turned out for separate rallies, one supporting police officers and one and another protesting recent grand jury decisions not to indict officers involved in the deaths of unarmed blacks.

That so called pro-cop protest featured a paltry showing, the majority of people swarming the bridge being angry chanters.

In recent weeks, protesters of Garner's case have been ranting against 'police brutality' on our nation's infrastructure, blocking traffic and/or shutting down bridges entirely. The 11th Street Bridge in Washington, DC, and New York's Brooklyn Bridge and Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, to name a few.

I think anyone would agree that Mr. Garner did not deserve to die, and that the way he did die was tragic. But, what does blocking traffic accomplish? How does shouting at cars on the road honor the man these protesters are supposedly trying to defend? It doesn't. It just makes for a lot of frustrated commuters and a lot of concerned bystanders just trying to enjoy their Friday night.

Put down the signs, and pick up some common sense.

China Makes Soccer Mandatory for Children to Improve National Team

China's Men's National Soccer Team is not good. They've only made one World Cup (in 2002, where they didn't score a goal) and their national team is ranked below small nations with a fraction of China's population. To solve this "problem," Chinese President Xi Jinpang has taken a rather unorthodox step: make soccer mandatory for Chinese children.

From The Economist:

On November 27th it was announced that football would become a compulsory part of the national curriculum at schools. Wang Dengfeng, an education official, said improving the standard of [soccer] in China must “start with children”. By 2017 some 20,000 schools are to receive new [soccer] pitches and training facilities, with the aim of creating 100,000 new players. In 2016 [soccer] will become an option in the national university-entrance exam. This could help overcome resistance among parents to their children being distracted from their academic studies by ball-kicking.

Well, that's one way to do it.

While I think this whole plan is moderately hilarious, it will probably actually work to a degree. China has a population of over one billion—there's bound to be at least some untapped soccer superstar potential amongst its citizenry. Granted, I don't think the Chinese will be hosting World Cup trophy in 2022 in Doha (if it happens), but it will certainly be interesting to see if forcing roughly half a billion children to do a sport will produce results on a worldwide scale.

It's strange China is putting such an emphasis on improving a sports team when there are so many other things that the country could strive to fix.

Louie Zamperini's Son on "Unbroken": "It’s Terrible and Beautiful at the Same Time”

“Unbroken” retells the incredible and deeply moving story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini, a former Olympic runner and WWII bomber who survived 47 days adrift at sea after his plane crash-landed in the South Pacific. From there, he drifted all the way to Japan, where he was eventually interned in several POW camps, and singled out for torture by a sadistic madman nicknamed “The Bird." The best-selling book, written by Laura Hillenbrand, has since been turned into a forthcoming major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie. I recently spoke to Luke Zamperini by phone, Louie’s only and surviving son, about the best-seller, the movie in general, and his extraordinary late father.

Townhall: When did you first learn of your father's survival story? Did he talk about it often when you were younger, or was it something he preferred to keep private?

Zamperini: Well, I think I’ve always known my Dad’s survival story as long as I can remember. He talked about it quite often to a lot of people. [He] had a comic book that would tell his story which he would pass out to kids -- and I had a copy of that. These were the subjects of my bedtime stories. I’d ask him: ‘Dad, tell me about wrestling the sharks again' and he’d go into the detail about diving overboard off the raft [and] so on and so forth. I was just always aware of it.

Townhall: When I read "Unbroken" last February on a family vacation, I couldn't put it down. It was one of the most incredible stories I had ever come across. I have not, however, seen the movie. Do you think the film lives up to the book's expectations? I know you recently wrote an op-ed for us titled: “Unbroken Film Gets My Dad’s Faith Right.” But did the filmmakers get everything else right, so to speak?

Zamperini: Well, yes. These are two different mediums, and one you can go into much more detail than the other. In the film, you’ve only got X amount of time to get a story across and get people interested in the characters. [W]ith the book, I read it in two days. That was 12 hours of reading, and so you can’t make a 12 hour film. Angelina [Jolie] did a marvelous job. She of course had to leave out some scenes one would expect to be in the film. But she needed to be able to bring it in under two and a half hours -- and have it be as complete as possible. I’ve seen the film five times now and I love it.

Townhall: The trailer looks great. I can’t wait to see it.

Zamperini: Oh yeah, this thing is just beautifully shot. Rogers Deakins [the director of photography] has done an excellent job...it’s got a fantastic score that is just mesmerizing. You’re taken on this beautiful journey through this odyssey that quite frankly has some real grim aspects to it. It's terrible and beautiful at the same time.

Townhall: Laura Hillenbrand writes movingly about your father's conversion to Christianity. He was in a bad place when he returned from the war, almost succumbing to alcoholism. How did his faith change him, other than helping him quit drinking?

Zamperini: Prior to his conversion his drinking was always self-medicating. The real problem was his hatred for the Bird and former prison guards. [A]s a juvenile delinquent he was always pretty resourceful and pretty clever and he was really defiant. And that defiance kind of got him through the prison camp. Yet he ends up with what we now know to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]. It was manifesting itself in a recurring nightmare. He started having this nightmare -- almost the day he met the Bird -- which always involved Louis being attacked by the Bird, and Louis trying to kill the Bird, usually with his bare hands.

(Luke proceeded to explain that his father in November 1949, after hearing a Billy Graham sermon his wife dragged him to against his will, finally remembered a promise he made to God years earlier on the raft in his hour of need: If he beat the odds and survived his ordeal, he told God, he would honor and serve Him for the rest of his life. Of course, he survived. So it was at this moment -- when he finally remembered that binding promise inside Billy Graham's tent -- that he became a devoted Christian).

Zamperini: After his conversion, he was done getting drunk. He was done fighting. He had forgiven his captors, including the Bird. And he went home that night and that was the first night in almost five years that he didn’t have that nightmare -- and he never had it the rest of his life. His PTSD was gone immediately. So instead of harboring all this hatred and this vengeance and this desire to get back and kill the Bird he was able to forgive him. This was the completion of Louis Zamperini. The turnaround started when he discovered sports, but it was completed when he discovered God.

Townhall: That was one of the most amazing parts of the book. The bird, scene after scene, torments Louie and goes after him specifically, and by the end of the narrative, Louie was able to forgive him. It’s really quite an amazing story. 

Zamperini: What was so incredible about the book is that this was not a Christian book. [At] the end, you start feeling sorry for this guy who is destroying his life -- and boom -- the conversion hits you right in the face. I feel like the same thing happens in the film. You witness this terrible treatment and suffering he goes through, and in the end, you find out he forgave these people based on his faith. It’s just super powerful. I think it will be resonating with generations to come.

“Unbroken” opens in theaters everywhere on Christmas day.

Castro's Daughter: America is Dreaming, Cuba Will Never Return to Capitalism

Mariela Castro, Cuban president Raul Castro's daughter and a member of parliament, scoffed at the idea that Cuba would return to capitalism in the wake of the two countries' newly restored relations.

President Obama said Wednesday that Cuba should not put American businesses at a disadvantage and that increased commerce would do good for both countries. He explained that the U.S. would facilitate transactions and make it easier for America to export and sell goods to Cuba. 

Castro's daughter, however, seemed skeptical of Obama's motives. From Havana on Thursday, Mariela Casto said the United States "must be dreaming" it if thinks Cuba will return to "being a servile country to the interests of the most powerful financial groups in the US."

Watch her full comment here:

The Worst Liberal Lies Of 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, what were the biggest liberal lies of the year? Luckily, our friends at the Media Research Center compiled the top five lies made by liberals this year that range from the missing Lois Lerner emails to not knowing who Jonathan Gruber is, or what he did regarding health care policy.

Let's just say this year was exceptionally awful in terms of the garbage the left spewed to some in the media.  

Neighboring States Sue Colorado Over Marijuana Legalization

The Attorneys General of two neighboring states, Nebraska and Oklahoma, are suing Colorado in order to have their marijuana legalization policy declared unconstitutional.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement that Colorado's policy has "injured Oklahoma's ability to enforce our policies against marijuana." Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning held a news conference, as the Associated Press reported:

"This contraband has been heavily trafficked into our state," Bruning said at a news conference in Lincoln. "While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost."

In a policy statement last year, the U.S. Justice Department noted it doesn't have the resources to police all violations of federal marijuana law. It laid out eight federal law enforcement priorities that states need to protect if they want to authorize "marijuana-related conduct." They include keeping marijuana in-state — something Oklahoma and Nebraska says Colorado has failed to do.

That last part is important. President Obama's Department of Justice has refused to enforce federal drug laws in allowing Colorado's legalization to go forward. They've effectively said that they won't follow the laws laid out by Congress when a state effectively tries to nullify those laws.

The Colorado Attorney General declared that he thought the suit has no merit but, if the provision about keeping the drug in-state is to be taken seriously, there might be something to be concerned about. As USA Today reported:

In June, USA TODAY highlighted the flow of marijuana from Colorado into small towns across Nebraska: felony drug arrests in Chappell, Neb., just 7 miles north of the Colorado border have skyrocketed 400% in three years.

A 400% increase in drug crimes might be considered a big deal.

Unbelievable: Students Back Deporting Americans in Exchange for Illegal Immigrants

How would you feel about deporting one American citizen in exchange for one illegal immigrant? The idea sounds absurd, right? Well apparently not to everyone. 

Campus Reform asked students roaming the George Washington University campus in Washington, D.C. to petition President Obama to "deport one American citizen, in exchange for one undocumented immigrant."

After all, the fake petition reasoned:

"Everyone must be allowed a shot at the ‘American Dream.’ Americans should not be greedy. Let us right the wrongs of our past and make another’s dreams come true."

Unbelievably, more than two-thirds of the students approached by Campus Reform signed the petition. While signing , one man even asked how his fellow Americans would be selected for the deportation process. How thoughtful. 

"I think our immigration rules are crazy and I think it's important," another woman told reporter Maggie Lit. 

Just watch: 

Five Thoughts on Obama Final 2014 Press Conference


President Obama just wrapped up his traditional year-end press conference, wishing the media a Merry Christmas as he prepares to depart for a Hawaiian vacation. A few comments on his performance:

(1) Obama repeated his now familiar spiel about the country being in much better shape now than when he took office, praising what he termed an "American resurgence." He claimed improvement by almost any conceivable measure; "pick any metric," he said. Setting aside numerous metrics like the national debt, poverty rates, median household income, wage growth, workforce participation, and (still) rising healthcare costs, Obama is advancing an argument that Americans just don't believe. Right track/wrong track numbers are in the toilet. His job approval rating is weak. Americans don't believe the country is better off, nor do they feel as though our standing in the world is stronger. But he's welcome to use his bully pulpit to try to convince them otherwise -- if they're still listening to him.

(2) The president's answer on the North Korea/Sony situation was solid. He stated in no uncertain terms that Pyongyang was responsible for the "cyber assault," and vowed that "we will respond." Obama said he wouldn't spell out what that response would be, or when it might come, for public consumption.  Despite expressing some sympathy for the tough spot in which the company finds itself, the president condemned Sony for caving to the terrorists' demands by canceling the release of a comedy film that drew North Korea's ire.  Obama forcefully stated that free societies cannot censor themselves to placate the threats and demands of violent actors. Yes, he can be criticized for hypocrisy here, and I'd be curious about his thoughts on Western media suppressing the Mohammad cartoons, but his tone and message were on point in this case.

(3) He didn't come out and say it, but the president telegraphed an inclination toward vetoing the Keystone Pipeline if and when Republicans pass legislation next year. Obama listed the alleged drawbacks of the popular project, sniffing that it would only create "a few thousand" temporary jobs. At another point in the press conference, he demanded more government spending on infrastructure projects (ignoring his failed "stimulus" altogether, of course). So Obama is unimpressed with temporary, private sector infrastructure jobs, but he's insistent upon taxpayers funding other temporary infrastructure jobs.   Hmm.

(4) Aside from the North Korea exchange, none of my suggested questions were asked. One reporter touched on executive power, but her question was weak. It basically asked if he's worried about Republicans working with him less as a consequence of his unilateral action -- a political process question that skirts around the core issue. On immigration, Obama again claimed that Congress' refusal to carry out his will 'forced' him to act on his own, via an executive decree that he'd repeatedly averred was beyond his presidential authority.

(5) I counted eight total questions (or question sets), all of which came from women. The president did not call on any male reporters, nor did any television reporters get a question. Many of the questions were sharp, and there's obviously nothing wrong with selecting female interrogators, but it's worth noting that Obama's picks ensured that three of the journalists who consistently ask the toughest questions in White House briefings (Fox's Ed Henry, CBS' Major Garrett and ABC's Jonathan Karl) were all shut out. Make of that what you will.

Obama Blames Sony

President Obama blamed Sony, Inc. for the demise of the movie "The Interview" today at his end of the year press conference.

"I think they made a mistake," Obama said in answer to a direct question as to whether Sony made the right decision to pull the movie from theaters.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” Obama continued. "I wish they had spoken to me first. I would have told them, ‘Do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.’”

Obama did not elaborate as to why, if not being intimidated is so important, he did not call Sony to offer his administration's full support. 

Obama also made it clear he has little intention of working with Republicans in Congress on anything in 2015. Asked if tax reform is possible in 2015, Obama launched into a speech about the importance of investing in infrastructure. 

What does infrastructure have to do with tax reform? 

It has long been the Obama administration's position that any tax reform must include new revenues (a.k.a. higher taxes) that can then be immediately spent on new spending programs. Higher taxes has always been a complete non-starter for Republicans in Congress.

Obama also signaled that he will veto any bill in Congress that tries to force him to approve the Keystone pipeline. 

The oil from the Keystone pipeline is "not American oil, it is Canadian oil," Obama noted. “That oil currently is being shipped out through rail or trucks and it would save Canadian oil companies, and the Canadian oil industry enormous amounts of money if they could simply pipe it all the way down to the Gulf,” he continued. 

"It’s very good for Canadian oil companies, and it’s good for the Canadian oil industry but it’s not going to be a huge benefit to U.S. consumers, it’s not even going to be a nominal benefit to U.S. consumers,” Obama said.

Obama did not say if a new pipeline would benefit American consumers who currently have to put up with oil-train derailmentsPipelines have long been proven to be the safest way to transport oil and gas.

Considering Obama's steadfast opposition to infrastructure programs that Republicans support, like Keystone, and his insistence on higher taxes to pay for more infrastructure spending, it does not look like a deal on either issue is very likely.

MRCTV Discovers That 'Principle Is More Important' Than Fact At Black Lives Matter Rally

Earlier this week, MRCTV’s Dan Joseph ventured into Washington D.C. for the Black Lives Matter protest promoted by Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. Michael Brown and Eric Garner were the focus of this demonstration–and Joseph got a chance to speak with a few protesters. For starters, some felt that Brown didn’t charge then-Officer Darren Wilson, who then shot him reportedly in self-defense last August.

Of course, the “hands up, don’t shoot” theme was pervasive at the rally. Yet, Joseph noted that narrative is probably not correct (via MRCTV):

Multiple eyewitnesses who testified before the grand jury in Ferguson claimed that Brown’s hands weren’t up at all and that he was charging Officer Wilson when he was shot. Forensic evidence and multiple autopsies that were conducted concluded a similar pattern of events transpired that run contrary to the protesters' mantra.

Despite the doubt cast on the favored slogan, most of the protesters that MRCTV talked to at the Sharpton rally continued to insist that the original narrative is the correct one.

Citing “various news sources,” Sharpton’s protesters defended the notion that Michael Brown had his hands up and was surrendering when he was shot and killed.

Sharpton’s protesters rejected eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence that Brown did not have his hands up and may have been charging the officer who shot him:

  • “No, no, the autopsies don’t have anything to do with that.”
  • “That’s not true; I’ve read the whole report, too.”
  • “No, he didn’t resist arrest.”

“It’s not necessarily the exact motion of ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ – it’s the idea that Mike Brown was an unarmed, innocent man who was shot multiple times,” said one protester, arguing that the principle is more important than the precise details of the event.

Friday Filibuster: The Cuba Libre Edition

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.

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Closing Numbers:

51% of Americans say tough CIA interrogations on suspected terrorists after 9/11 were appropriate.

47% have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party after the midterm elections.

19% of self-identified Republicans favor Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination, dominating the field of Republican candidates

62% of self-identified Democrats want Hillary Clinton to get the Democratic presidential nomination.

*** 

Terror Around the World: The hostage situation by an Islamic terrorist and Iranian refugee at a café in Sydney, Australia came to an end Tuesday morning (Sydney time) when police stormed the building after hearing gunfire from inside. The lone gunman, Man Haron Monis, who had a long rap sheet that included murder and rape, was shot dead by police. Two hostages died and several others were wounded. Later on Tuesday, nearly 7,000 miles away, the Taliban gunned down 132 children and nine staff members at a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. The Pakistani military took swift action, launching massive airstrikes against the Taliban in retaliation. And in Iraq’s Fallujah, one member of ISIS singlehandedly killed more than 150 women and girls.

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Cuba: President Obama’s unilateral move to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba was criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle this week who saw it as a vindication of brutal behavior. Sen. Marco Rubio blasted the new policy, calling it a concession to a tyranny, and slammed fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul for being 'utterly clueless' on the issue. The Cuban American senator also pointed out that by saying the U.S. was trying to colonize Cuba, Obama was using the same talking point as the Castro regime. Sen. Ted Cruz, whose father escaped the country in 1957 after undergoing beatings and torture, said the move will be remembered as a tragic mistake. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest dismissed threats to defund the move, claiming the administration has all the money it needs to move forward with the plan. Many are also wondering if the new “normalization” means Cuba will return cop killer Joanne Chesimard.

The Interview: After hackers released Sony’s films, salary information of top executives, embarrassing emails, social security numbers, employee medical records, and finally, threatened 9/11 style attacks on movie theaters that screen the comedy, Sony caved and pulled the film. The White House called the Sony hack a “serious national security matter” and House Cybersecurity Chairman warned the U.S. power grid and Wall Street could be next. Unsurprisingly, the North Korean government turned out to be behind the ‘cyber warfare.’ One “journalist” said having First Amendment rights comes with the responsibility to not offend dictators, which apparently Paramount, in their decision to ban showings of “Team American,” has taken note of. Meanwhile, we learned this week that the Obama administration tried to open up talks with North Korea last year and failed.

Immigration: A federal judge issued an opinion this week classifying Obama’s executive amnesty as unconstitutional. And a New York Times story shows why an injunction against the program is the only way to stop it. Interestingly, however, the nominee to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn’t seem to have a problem with it.

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Elections and campaigns: The 2014 midterm elections have officially come to an end with Rep.-elect Martha McSally winning the recount in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. On the presidential front, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren insists she’s not running, although she only responded in the present tense. And Joe Biden still hasn’t made up his mind. On the Republican side, Rand Paul may have to jump through legal hoops if he decides to run. Jeb Bush is actively exploring a shot at the White House, even though policy and history are against the Florida governor. Meanwhile, his Floridian protégé Marco Rubio is quietly laying the groundwork for a run. Mittmentum isn’t gone yet, however.

Health Care: Insurers are extending another Obamacare deadline. Costs will now spike in 2016. Meanwhile, Vermont had to abandon plans to establish a single payer system because it’s too expensive. And the guy who outed Jonathan Gruber came forward to reveal another hidden agenda in Obamacare: It’s actually a $250 billion tax grab per year. 

Gun Control: The Senate confirmed Dr. Vivek Murthy, President Obama’s anti-Second Amendment nominee for surgeon general this week. And families of the victims of Newtown are suing Bushmaster, whether or not the case will go anywhere is a different story.

EITs: Discussions about the CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation Techniques continued this week, with a former CIA officer saying that Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues raised no objections to the practice in 2002. And former Vice President Dick Cheney went on Meet the Press to defend the CIA and EITs. 

Year-End Presser: Townhall editors Guy Benson and Conn Carroll have a few questions for the president before he heads off on his 17-day vacation in Hawaii. 

Graphics by Feven Amenu. 

Video: Exposing the White House's Dumb 'Executive Action' Numbers Game


Whenever the White House is pressed on President Obama's promiscuous and impactful use of executive action to achieve his policy objectives, they fall back on a specious talking point: Contrary to Republican claims, they say, Obama has issued significantly fewer executive orders than his predecessors from both parties over the last century. The goal is to paint critics as hypocritical, foolish, and blinded by irrational opposition. Many journalists seem to have swallowed Team Obama's story whole. But not USA Today reporter Gregory Korte, or Fox News' Ed Henry, who challenged White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on the president's math, exposing the cynical and contradictory "rules" by which the administration has been playing in order to sustain their misleading claim:



EH: You will remember some months ago the president claimed he was using executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years. 195 executive orders less than Democratic and Republican predecessors but when you add on 198 presidential memorandum, it actually turns out he is using a lot more than his predecessors, right? ...

JE: It was true because the number of executive orders is lower, as you pointed out, than executive orders that have been issued by many of his previous predecessors.

EH: Presidential memoranda have essentially the same effect, despite being called something different. The fact of the matter is that he is taking a lot more executive action.

JE: There is an important difference between executive orders and presidential memorandums. I would grant the premise that the president has used every element at his disposal to use -- to move the country forward and he has done that in a way consistent with the law and precedents and is often carried out in the face of pretty rigid Congressional obstruction….Generally speaking, presidential memoranda are associated with more technical issues and often directives related to a subset of agencies. Executive orders are often more sweeping and impactful...

EH: Generally they are more sweeping, but in the case of immigration, which you will announce was pretty sweeping, it was a presidential memorandum. So by your definition, I am slightly confused? You said the executive order was quite sweeping. The Immigration one actually was not. The point that I was trying to make them the matter what you call it, he was kind of misleading people about how often he was using executive actions.

JE: I think the president was being explicit that his predecessors have issued far more than he has. I do not think anyone has made the case come here that he is not willing to use executive authority to move the country forward. In fact, he has. Thank you, Ed.


"Thank you, Ed.  I've had enough of your questions on this subject."  That is some weak sauce spin from Earnest, parsing terms and harping on semantics to obscure the larger truth.  But as I said on Fox earlier, the numerical quantity and technical categories of executive action are far less relevant than the legality, propriety and consequences of the action being taken:


Even if a president almost never issued any executive orders or memoranda, if he then turned around and exceeded his authority with one giant violation of the separation of powers, those raw numbers don't matter.  They're a distraction.  And while this president's comprehensive hypocrisy on issues from campaign finance, to transparency, to executive power is well established at this point, I couldn't help but quote him as a presidential candidate in the 2008 cycle:


Notice that he wasn't troubled by President Bush's excessive issuance of executive memos vs. executive orders, or whatever.  He was (or at least claimed to be) worried about what he saw as Bush's improper arrogation of power, vis-a-vis Congress.  That Barack Obama is long gone.  Because Barack Obama's guiding principle is employing whatever argument or behavior Barack Obama needs in the moment.  His own standards and previous statements don't matter when the 'greater good' is at stake.

Shorter Marco Rubio: Rand Paul is Utterly Clueless on Cuba; UPDATE: Rand Responds

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) thinks the president’s decision to “normalize” relations with Cuba is “probably a good idea.” Once again, he’s walking a lonely and desolate road as almost all Republicans and even some Democrats oppose such a policy shift. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), for instance, has been sounding the alarm about appeasing an entrenched and despotic dictator, warning that doing so will not bring prosperity and self-government to Cuba as intended. On the contrary, as he stated in his much-watched press conference earlier this week, reconciliation will merely “tighten this regime’s grip on power.”

With respect to the embargo, he also reminded his colleagues last night on The Kelly File that we already trade with Cuba and send Americans there. Thus lifting the embargo, he argued, will not, in any meaningful sense, improve conditions on the island. To emphasis his point, Rubio slammed the junior Senator from Kentucky for regurgitating and believing false talking points.

“Like many people that have been opining, [Rand Paul] has no idea what he's talking about,” Rubio said. “What’s hurting the Cuban people is not the embargo. What’s hurting the Cuban people is the Cuban government.”

Watch the full clip below:

UPDATE: Well that didn't take long:

UPDATE: Read this too.

VIDEO: Rep. Bill Flores: Obama's Legacy a 'Disaster'

Last week, Townhall sat down with Congressman Bill Flores (R-TX) about his new role as the Chair of the Republican Study Committee. 

Read more here.

Flores believes President Obama's attack on family values, his disregard for unborn life, and his careless defense of religious freedom attribute to what he calls a disastrous legacy the American people won't forget. 

WATCH:

Unbelievable: Rolling Stone Writer Is Re-Reporting Her Botched UVA Story

Talk about sending the arsonist to put out the fire. Rolling Stone made it known that a re-reporting mission will be assembled to address the abysmal journalism in their disgraceful Nov. 19 story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. Sabrina Rubin Erdely wrote the piece and came under fire for failing, amongst other things, to reach out to the alleged attackers for their account of the night’s events. Now, it seems Erdely is re-reporting what happened on the night of the alleged assault, a night where the fraternity allegedly at fault held no social gathering.

To recap, the alleged victim named Jackie claims several men gang raped her in a darkened room on a broken glass table. When the ordeal was over, she was bloodied, beaten, and traumatized. Yet, her three friends (“Andy,” “Cindy,” and “Randall”) who also weren’t contacted by RS, claimed that they felt something traumatic had happened to her, but there were no visible injuries on her when they saw her that night. They wanted to go to the authorities, but Jackie was against this course of action.

It’s a far cry from how Erdley described them. In her piece, they were distant, apathetic, and consumed about their position on UVA’s social ladder; claims they rejected in their recent interview with ABC News. Oh, and their real names are Ryan Duffin (“Randall”), Alex Stock (“Andy”), and Kathryn Hendley (“Cindy)”

Now, Erdely is reaching out to them (via Associated Press) [emphasis mine]:

One of the friends, a 20-year-old, third-year student referred to as "Randall" in the Rolling Stone article but whose real name is Ryan Duffin, told the AP that not only did he encourage the alleged victim to go to police, but he started to dial 9-1-1 on his cellphone until she begged off saying she just wanted to go back to her dorm and go to sleep.

"I couldn't help but notice that everything that the article said about me was incorrect," Duffin said.

The AP also spoke with the other two friends portrayed in the article: third-year, 20-year-old U.Va. students Kathryn Hendley and Alex Stock, known as "Cindy" and "Andy" in the article. None of the three friends was contacted by Rolling Stone's reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, before the article was published; each of them rejected multiple assertions made in the article, for which Rolling Stone has since apologized for and noted discrepancies.

All three say Erdely has since reached out to them, and that she has told them she is re-reporting the story. Hendley told the AP Erdely apologized to her for portraying her the way she did.

Erdely and Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana did not respond to an email from The Associated Press on Sunday morning seeking comment.

Should we be skeptical about this effort? Yes! Alex Pinkleton, a student at UVA and a friend of Jackie, was interviewed for the original RS piece, and mentioned that Erdely had an agenda when writing this story (via Newsbusters) [emphasis mine]:

BRIAN STELTER, HOST OF CNN’s RELIABLE SOURCES: So what did you experience with the reporter? She was on campus for a long time. She interviewed you and a lot of other students. What were your impressions of her?

ALEX PINKLETON, FRIEND OF ALLEGED UVA ASSAULT VICTIM: I think she had her heart in the right place. She wanted to bring light to this issue – and it is a prevalent issue at UVA, and on campuses across the nation. However, she did have an agenda, and part of that agenda was showing how monstrous fraternities themselves as an institution are, and blaming the administration for a lot of the sexual assaults.

STELTER: What were some of the questions she asked you that made you feel that way?

PINKLETON: When she asked about my own assault, she kept asking – you know, did he feed you the drinks? Was he keeping tabs of the drinks that night? And he wasn't, and that's something that I had to keep saying over and over again, and I think �� I felt like she wasn't satisfied with my perpetrator as someone who wasn't clearly monstrous.

[…]

PINKLETON: I think that she should have fact checked, and I'm really upset and angry, like a lot of people are, that that didn't happen. And now, we're in a very difficult situation....

...Again, I think her intentions were good. I just think that the job was done poorly, and I am upset with that aspect of it. But I also know that she was trying to come from a point of advocacy. But as a reporter, you can't be like an advocate and support a story and listen to it and think everything is true; and then, report on it without trying to figure out if it's true.

My job as an advocate was never to question Jackie's story or question the details, because I didn't need to. But the role that she's in, as a reporter....she needed to do that.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, who incurred the wrath of the right on social media when he penned an inflammatory obituary to the late Andrew Breitbart; said the magazine is feels awful about how this story fell apart, especially on the fact-checking side. According to Taibbi, the process for him is a slow, arduous one, but noted that he feels safe publishing pieces there since he knows everything has been looked at with a fine-tooth comb (via WaPo):

“For people like me and for a lot of the other reporters who’ve worked there over the years, this was a real shock to us because, speaking personally — people laughed at me when I said this on Twitter — what I go through normally in the fact-checking process at that magazine has always been a really difficult, long, thorough, painful process,” said Taibbi. “And that was actually one of the things that always attracted me to working there, which is that I feel safe when I publish things because I feel like it’s been double-checked and, you know, that was always a good feeling. And clearly I think in this particular situation, the controls got broken down somewhere and they’re looking into that. I’m sure they’re coming up with some answers.”

That’s fine, but Erdely’s fact-finding mission is already complete. All she has to do is read the Washington Post. After all, they did the job she was supposed to do when first reporting on this story. Red flags should have gone up when the pictures of her date that her three friends saw on the night of Jackie’s alleged assault turned out to be one of her former classmates from high school. But, Erdely never contacted them, so this tripwire was never seen.

I can only imagine what kind of Frankenstein monster-like article will come out of this re-reporting initiative on behalf of RS. Seriously RS, everyone else did the legwork for you; it’s over now.