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Posts tagged ‘New York Times’

Plea to Take Mel Gibson Off ‘Blacklist’ Sparks Hollywood Debate.


Image: Plea to Take Mel Gibson Off 'Blacklist' Sparks Hollywood Debate

Eight years after Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant during a drunk-driving arrest, Hollywood is debating the rehabilitation of an Oscar winner who was once one of the industry’s most bankable stars.

The heated discussion was sparked by a March 12 opinion piece in Deadline Hollywood by Allison Hope Weiner, a freelance writer who covered Gibson’s infamous spiral out of favor and now considers him a friend. Her appeal for an end to what she called a “quiet blacklisting” has generated more than 5,700 comments on Yahoo.com’s movie page and more than 800 on the Deadline Hollywood site, which is read by many in the industry.

“He has been in the doghouse long enough,” Weiner wrote. “It’s time to give the guy another chance.”

Gibson’s movies, from “Mad Max” to “Braveheart” and “Apocalypto,” have grossed $3.6 billion, according to Rentrak Corp., providing an incentive for studios and agencies to consider absolution. His particular transgressions, and the number of them over the years, mean it’s unlikely to come easy.

Forgiving Gibson “is not the same thing as forgiving Lindsay Lohan for partying too late,” said Elizabeth Currid- Halkett, author of “Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity” and an associate professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. “Anti-Semitism is not just behaving badly.”

While the 58-year-old still directs and acts — he recently completed production as a co-star with Sylvester Stallone on “Expendables 3” — major studios “are either wary of him or prefer not to work with him,” said Michael Fleming, Deadline Hollywood’s film editor. “I am surprised this has lasted this long. The guy has made a lot of people a lot of money.”

Malibu Tirade

The back-and-forth by commentators on Weiner’s piece boils down to a bygone question in Hollywood: whether what someone says or does off screen, however repugnant, should have any effect on his fitness to make movies.

Gibson is a long-running case in point. The hits to his reputation aren’t limited to those from his tirade about Jews being “responsible for all the wars in the world,” delivered as he was arrested in 2006 in Malibu, California. In 2010, audiotapes of threats he made to his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva — laced with racial epithets — surfaced. The next year he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge after a dispute with Grigorieva, the mother of his youngest child.

In 2004, he came under fire for what the Anti-Defamation League and others saw as anti-Semitism in “The Passion of the Christ,” a blockbuster he directed, co-produced and co-wrote. He reacted to a Frank Rich column about it in the New York Times by telling the New Yorker, “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog.”

‘Harmful Words’

In 1992 he offended the gay community with remarks in a Spanish newspaper interview and later told Playboy that he would apologize “when hell freezes over.”

He did apologize after his Malibu arrest for what he said were his “vitriolic and harmful words,” and after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor drunk-driving charge was sentenced to three years’ probation.

Alan Nierob, a Rogers & Cowan publicist who represents Gibson, said his client should be allowed back in the fold. “People should know that he is now healthy once again, both physically and mentally after suffering a breakdown,” Nierob said. “He is an artistic genius, and the industry should benefit once again from his enormous talent.”

‘Harsh Language’

Weiner, describing herself as an observant Jew, said in Deadline Hollywood that Gibson today “is clearly a different man, one who has worked on his sobriety since that awful night in Malibu.” And the movie industry, she said, is hypocritical, willing to “work with others who’ve committed felonies and done things far more serious than Gibson.”

She cited Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist who has been in the “Hangover” films. Gibson was dropped from a cameo in “The Hangover Part II” in 2010 after “a lot of people” working on the film protested, Todd Phillips told the Hollywood Reporter.

“Gibson has been shunned not for doing anything criminal; his greatest offenses amount to use of harsh language,” Weiner wrote in her more than 3,400-word piece. She said she chose to publish it on the 10th anniversary of “The Passion of the Christ,” which she described as “about an innocent man’s willingness to forgive the greatest injustice.”

The independent release grossed $612 million at the global box office, and Gibson personally made $210 million in 2004, according to Forbes. His fortune was estimated at $850 million by the Los Angeles Business Journal, and People magazine reported that his 2011 divorce halved that.

Befriending Rabbis

In recent years, Weiner said, Gibson has befriended rabbis, attended Passover Seders and donated to Jewish causes. He invited to coffee the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who took him into custody in Malibu. He was at Weiner’s son’s bar mitzvah, where she said he charmed her family.

“My friendship with Gibson made me reconsider other celebrities whose public images became tarnished by the media’s rush to judge,” Weiner wrote. “Whether it’s Gibson, Tom Cruise or Alec Baldwin, the descent from media darling to pariah can happen quickly after they do something dumb.”

Hollywood is littered with stars who fell from grace — Charlie Sheen after a rant against the producer of “Two and a Half Men,” Robert Downey Jr. after arrests for illegal drug use, Cruise after jumping on Oprah’s couch and admonishing Brooks Shields for treating her postpartum depression with pharmaceuticals — and who bounced back.

Two Oscars

Downey, Gibson’s co-star in “Air America” in 1990, has been among his staunch defenders. He asked that Gibson be on stage to present him with a life-achievement award from American Cinematheque in 2011, and said in his acceptance speech that his friend deserved from Hollywood the same forgiveness it had afforded him. Gibson had helped revive Downey’s career when he was considered uninsurable by paying his insurance bond for 2003’s “The Singing Detective.”

Gibson rose to international fame with the “Mad Max” and “Lethal Weapon” films and won Oscars in 1995 for best picture and best director for “Braveheart,” in which he also starred. He garnered acclaim for “Apocalypto,” about the end of Mayan civilization, which he financed through his Icon Productions LLC; Walt Disney Co. distributed it.

Released five months after the Malibu arrest, it did well at the box office. “Say what you will about him — about his problem with booze or his problem with Jews — he is a serious filmmaker,” wrote New York Times critic A.O. Scott.

Bypassing Theaters

One of Gibson’s big hits as an actor before Malibu was “Signs,” a 2002 thriller by M. Night Shyamalan that grossed $228 million. One of his biggest flops ever was “The Beaver” in 2011 with Jodie Foster, which made less than $1 million in U.S. theaters, according to the Internet Movie Database.

He bypassed theaters with “Get the Gringo” in 2012, releasing it instead on pay-television. Last year he was a co- star with Sheen in “Machete Kills,” which wasn’t a critical or commercial success.

In Hollywood, “there are some who may forgive and some who never will,” said Michael Sitrick, chairman and chief executive of Sitrick Brincko Group LLC, a Los Angeles-based public relations and crisis-management firm that has represented rapper Chris Brown, baseball player Alex Rodriguez and socialite Paris Hilton. “It’s not about spin. It has to be genuine.”
© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

McCain: Ukraine Crisis Exposes Obama’s ‘Disturbing Lack of Realism’.


Image: McCain: Ukraine Crisis Exposes Obama's 'Disturbing Lack of Realism'

 

By Joe Battaglia

A day after calling Barack Obama “the most naive president in history,” Arizona Sen. John McCain continued his assault on the president’s foreign policy in an op-ed piece in Friday’s New York Times.

Specifically addressing Russia’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, McCain wrote that the United States’ response “has exposed the disturbing lack of realism” of the Obama administration and made the country look weak in the eyes of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world.

According to McCain, President Obama’s belief that “the tide of war is receding” around the world so the United States can afford to scale back its military presence is a miscalculation.

That “reset” policy, coupled with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s crossing of Obama’s “red line” without consequence, has emboldened Chinese and Iranian loyalists, al-Qaida terrorists, and aggressive actors like Putin, whom he called “an unreconstructed Russian imperialist and KGB apparatchik.”

“To people like Mr. Putin, weakness is provocative,” McCain wrote.

He added, “What is most troubling about Mr. Putin’s aggression in Crimea is that it reflects a growing disregard for America’s credibility in the world.”

McCain echoed that sentiment in a fundraising letter penned for the Republican National Committee on Thursday.

“A secure world relies on a strong America. And a strong America relies on a robust military,” McCain wrote, according to The Washington Examiner. “Yet, sadly under President Obama, America’s military strength has been weakened and our country’s leadership in the world has been questioned. As a result, the world’s most dangerous players are flexing their muscles. Extremists are gaining ground. And these conflicts are becoming more dangerous by the day for our allies — and for us.”

Earlier in the day, McCain told Phoenix radio station KFYI, “The naivete of Barack Obama and [Secretary of State] John Kerry is stunning,” adding that Putin, whom he described as “amoral,” “cold,” “distant,” and “tough,” had “played us so incredibly.”

While McCain condemned Obama’s stance on Crimea to date, he outlined a plan he believes would change the course of events in Ukraine and regain global standing for the United States.

The first step McCain called for was a shoring up of Ukraine and reassuring of the Baltic states that the United States and the world will not stand for Putin bringing Russia’s neighbors “back under Moscow’s dominion.” McCain did not call for military action, but suggested an increased military presence by NATO in the region.

He also said Russia should be ostracized through a boycott of the G-8 summit scheduled for April 24-25 in Sochi, suggesting a Group of 7 meeting be convened elsewhere.

McCain added that the United States should “support and resupply Ukrainian patriots, both soldiers and civilians, who are standing their ground in government facilities across Crimea” as a way to stand with the Ukrainian people in defiance of the dismemberment of their country.

“We need to work with our allies to … show Mr. Putin a strong, united front, and prevent the crisis from getting worse,” McCain wrote. He added that the United States needs to “rearm ourselves morally and intellectually” to prevent Putin from attempting to occupy other nations along Russia’s borders.

McCain remains convinced that strong U.S.-led support of Ukraine will expose Putin’s Russia as being “not a great power on par with America,” but “a gas station run by a corrupt, autocratic regime.” Eventually, he said, the Russian people will revolt against him the same way the Ukrainians ousted Viktor Yanukovych.

“If Ukraine can emerge from this crisis independent, prosperous, and anchored firmly in Europe, how long before Russians begin to ask, ‘Why not us?’” McCain wrote.

While McCain said that there is still hope for a reversal of course in the region, he cautioned that “hopes do not advance themselves.”

“The darkness that threatens [Ukraine] will not be checked by an America in denial about the world as it is,” McCain wrote. “It requires realism, strength and leadership. If Crimea does not awaken us to this fact, I am afraid to think what will.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Palestinian Authority President Flunks History.


Harry Truman
U.S. President Harry S. Truman, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Abba Eban, and Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in the White House on May 1, 1951. The Israeli leaders presented Truman with a menorah. (Fritz Cohen)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reiterated that he won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and he’s claiming support for that position from an unlikely quarter: former U.S. President Harry Truman. But a closer look reveals that Truman’s words are being misrepresented.

In a Feb. 3 interview with the New York Times, Abbas was asked about recognizing Israel as a Jewish state—something both the Israeli government and President Barack Obama have said the Palestinian Authority needs to do.

“This is out of the question,” Abbas said.

To justify that position, Abbas handed the Times interviewer a packet of documents, the first of which was a statement by Truman from 1948 in which the words “Jewish state” were crossed out and replaced by “state of Israel.”

Someone who didn’t know better might think Abbas had scored a point. But in fact, the document in question does not provide evidence of American opposition to a Jewish state.

Here’s how that cross-out came about.

On May 15, 1948, just before David Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the state of Israel, Truman decided he would extend U.S. recognition to the state as soon as it was proclaimed. A senior aide to the president, Clark Clifford, telephoned Eliahu Epstein (Elath), who was the state-to-be’s chief representative in Washington. Clifford told Elath to submit a formal request for recognition as soon as possible.

Elath wrote up the request during the minutes before the state was proclaimed. He did not yet know what its name would be. So he typed “the Jewish state.” He gave the document to his assistant, Zvi Zinder, who ran outside to get a taxi to the White House.

Moments after Zinder left, Elath’s secretary rushed in to say she had just heard on their shortwave radio that the state had been declared, and it would be called the state of Israel. Elath sent his secretary after Zinder and caught up to him at the gates to the White House.

Elath didn’t want to delay recognition by having Zinder return and retype the letter. So he had instructed his secretary to make the correction by hand. Hence the famous cross-out to which Abbas referred. It was not a political or ideological statement; it was the equivalent of a typographical correction.

But none of this is a secret. Ambassador Elath described it in his book The Struggle for Statehood: Washington 1945-1948, which was published back in 1979, and it has appeared in other books since then. It’s required reading for scholars and diplomats who have a serious interest in America-Israel relations. It’s difficult to believe that Abbas and the PA aides who helped assemble his packet of clippings are unfamiliar with these well-known facts.

On the other hand, history has never been Mr. Abbas’ strong suit.

Last year, he told a Lebanese television station that David Ben-Gurion and the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazis.

“I challenge anyone to deny the relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War II,” he said. He claimed to have authored 70 books on the topic.

So far, only one of those 70 books has been published. That 1983 book, based on Abbas’ Ph.D. dissertation at Moscow’s Oriental College, argued that fewer than 1 million Jews were killed by the Nazis—and that those Jews were the victims of a secret partnership that Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders formed with the Nazis in order to have a basis for demanding a state.

“Since Zionism was not a fighting partner, it had no escape but to offer up human beings, under any name, to raise the number of victims, which they could then boast of at the moment of accounting,” Abbas wrote. “Having more victims meant greater rights and stronger privilege to join the negotiation table for dividing the spoils of war once it was over.”

The historical record can play an important role in addressing the conflicting claims by Arabs and Israelis about territories, refugees and other issues. But that record is ill-served when Holocaust history and American history are twisted into political cannon fodder by those who are less interested in the facts than in scoring points against Israel.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington, D.C., and co-author, with Chaim I. Waxman, of the Historical Dictionary of Zionism.

For the original article, visit jns.org.

Democrats Have 11 Videos Ready to Slam Christie on Bridge-gate.


Democratic Party strategists are focusing on a systematic strategy to undermine New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s national image by capitalizing on the backlash from the George Washington bridge scandal.

According to The New York Times, Democratic operatives reaching up to the highest levels of the party are using every opportunity to define Christie as a corrupt bully as they aim to sabotaging his chances of mounting a successful run for the White House.

Democrats have already created 11 different videos to capitalize on Christie’s links to the bridge-gate scandal. They are also organizing protests and news conferences in different parts of the country to dog Christie during his travels in his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

“If Republican governors want to keep embracing him as their chair, as their model for the future, we’re happy to help them out,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, told the Times.

Democrats have also resorted to attacking GOP candidates and lawmakers who have come to Christie’s defense, from a potential Senate candidate in New Hampshire to a New York congressman, according to The Times.

For example, when former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who is considering a run for Senate in New Hampshire, defended Christie on television, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee immediately ridiculed him as being “defender-in-chief of scandal-ridden Chris Christie,” according to The Times.

The Democratic National Committee has issued 58 emails to the media about the Christie administration’s alleged acts of political revenge, while American Bridge, a Democratic research group, has issued 169 requests for internal documents from the Christie Administration, the Times reports.

The escalating attacks have begun to limit Christie’s ability to work on behalf of GOP candidates, with aides being forced to conceal the details of fundraisers and events. But key donors have so far said they will not turn their backs on him.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Melanie Batley

Report: Ex-CIA Deputy Director May Have Altered Benghazi Talking Points.


Image: Report: Ex-CIA Deputy Director May Have Altered Benghazi Talking PointsMichael Morell

By Lisa Barron

The recent Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi suggests that the former deputy director of the CIA played a role in shaping the official “talking points” about the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Michael Morell may have altered the government’s explanation for the assault to benefit the Obama administration, reports Fox News.

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

The panel’s reports showed that on Sept.15, four days after the attacks and one day before U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on various Sunday talk shows, Morell received an email from the CIA station chief in Libya stating that they were “not/not an escalation of protests.”

But that same day, according to Fox News’ chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, although Morell cut the word “Islamic” from the talking points, he left the word “demonstration.”

And despite the fact that the CIA and the FBI on Sept. 18 reviewed the closed circuit footage showing there were no protests, President Obama still referred to a demonstration two days later, reported Fox.

Intelligence analysts stayed with the explanation “without sufficient intelligence or eyewitness statements to corroborate that assertion. The IC (intelligence community) took too long to correct these erroneous reports,” said the Senate report.

In November 2012, as the controversy over the talking points escalated, Morell accompanied Rice to a meeting with Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Morell defended Rice’s TV appearances and maintained there was confusion about what happened in Benghazi, Graham told Fox.

“What I found curious is that he did not accept responsibility for changing the talking points. He told me the FBI had done this. I called the FBI — they went ballistic. And I am sure somebody from the FBI called Mike Morell, but within 24 hours, his statement was changed where he admitted the CIA had done it,” Graham said.

Herridge pointed to an interview Morell gave to The Wall Street Journal last August in which he spoke about his interest “in advising future presidential campaigns,” and noted that The Journal, citing unnamed officials, also reported that Morell “is close to Hillary Clinton.”

“He’s put himself out there as a political player,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch is reportedly suing in federal court for the talking points documents and recently obtained 70 heavily redacted pages.

“You have to wonder what he was thinking at the time he was deleting these talking points in a way that benefited the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton personally,” Fitton said.

Since leaving government Morell has joined Beacon Global Strategies, a government relations firm founded by Philippe Reines, whom the New York Times magazine recently described as “Clinton’s principal gatekeeper.”

Morell issued a written statement to Fox saying that the Senate report “…strongly supports the CIA’s long-standing position that neither the unclassified talking points nor the classified analysis on which they were based were in any way politicized. While not perfect, neither the talking points nor the analysis were produced with any political agenda in mind. None.”

“I think given what was said by him and others, and where they’re headed, down the political road, would justify revisiting this issue,” Graham told Fox.

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Proposed IRS Regs Threaten GOP’s 2014 Senate Push.


Proposed new IRS regulations, combined with the intense ongoing scrutiny of grass-roots conservative groups, could suppress their get-out-the-vote activity enough to hand Democrats the one or two races they need to keep control of the Senate, conservative leaders warn.

“Once caught red-handed,” American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) Senior Counsel David French said, “the administration didn’t change its goal [of] suppressing the free speech of these conservative groups.

”It’s just shifted methods. The ends are the same, only the means have changed,” he says.

Of the 41 grassroots groups named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) — a case alleging widespread abuses of the First Amendment rights of assembly and free speech by the Obama administration and the IRS — 13 still have not yet received an adjudication on their request for non-profit status.

The oldest of those 13 pending applications to the IRS for nonprofit status dates back to December 2009, French says. That would mean at least one group has been sidelined through two election cycles, with a third rapidly approaching.

Of the 13 groups in limbo, two sought 501c3 non-profit status and the other 11 sought 501c4 status as “social welfare” organizations, French said.

According to the ACLJ, five other groups joined the lawsuit after withdrawing their nonprofit applications due to frustration over the IRS approval process. Also, two of the plaintiffs refused to answer IRS questions that they considered unconstitutional, which led to the IRS closing their nonprofit applications without further consideration.

The proposed new IRS regulations seek to limit 501c4 groups’ activities. Conservative activists say the rules have exacerbated their sense of uncertainty and intimidation.

“Of course that has a chilling effect,” says French. “And until it is decisively and emphatically stopped through public, legal accountability, that chilling effect is likely to linger.”

Washington GOP super lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who represents grass-roots conservative activists not included in the ACLJ lawsuit, recently echoed the view that conservative groups continue to be singled out in the run-up to the 2014 elections.

“The IRS is still, very deliberately targeting conservative organizations and subjecting them to additional intense and burdensome scrutiny — and this has not stopped,” she said. “This is still ongoing.”

According to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, the new proposed IRS regulations, which were first unveiled in November, appear to single out as political activity the precise sorts of programs tea party organizations typically run: Candidate forums, voter registration drives, and distributions of voter guides.

In a column published in the February edition of Newsmax Magazine, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel contends that conservative groups are much more likely to become ensnared in the new proposed limitations.

She notes that neither unions, which conduct most of their activities as 501c5 groups, nor 501c3 organizations such as the liberal League of Women Voters Education Fund, are affected. That’s because the rules were not written to apply to those types of nonprofits.

The reaction of conservative activists has grown increasingly strident. Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the grass-roots National Liberty Federation organization, tells Newsmax: “Never before have we seen such attitudes and actions taken in America by an administration or government body.

“They are intentionally trying to silence the voices of millions of Americans, who all they want is to be heard.”

Wilkinson said his organization is closely following nine critical Senate races that could flip either way. But the fear of some that they could become targets of the IRS is having an impact, he says.

“Through this intimidation a lot of people have said, ‘I don’t know if I want to risk the IRS or the Treasury Department or whoever they’re going to send after me,’” he says.

Recent remarks by Democrats appear to have exacerbated conservatives’ concern that the IRS has been politicized.

In January, New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer urged the IRS to “redouble [its] efforts immediately” to constrain the tea parties.

During his Super Bowl interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, President Obama said there was “not even a smidgeon of corruption” involved. This despite the fact that the FBI has yet to release the findings of its investigation.

Such remarks appear aimed at energizing a Democratic base that has seen tea party nonprofits as fair game ever since the Citizens United ruling made it easier for corporations to get involved in politics.

Curiously, the IRS targeting has had relatively little impact on the major activist groups that raise millions of dollars each year.

A recent New York Times story reported that four major conservative organizations — FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, the Club for Growth Action Fund, and the Senate Conservatives Fund — are actually outraising their more establishment GOP counterparts such as Crossroads GPS.

But unlike the big groups that can afford to “lawyer up,” it is the smaller activist organizations all over the country — with names like Linchpins of Liberty, Colorado 9/12 Project, First State Patriots, Mid-South Tea Party, and American Patriots Against Government Excess — who have been ensnared by the long arm of the IRS. Those smaller organizations are believed to play a key role in getting out the vote in local neighborhoods.

Wilkinson praises the myriad local tea parties as “the most effective system out there, compared to the Republican consulting groups that get millions of dollars in TV ads and radio ads.

“They put every dollar they have in, and their heart and soul. They’re getting people to the polls for maybe pennies on the dollar.”

How those groups will fare as the tax laws they must comply with grow increasingly complex and demanding is open to question.

French says the proposed IRS rules will mean “an enormous amount of activity undertaken on the basis of issues, is now re-characterized as political, and now subject to limits.

“That essentially takes a group’s ability to engage in issue advocacy and then completely neuters it in the days and the weeks leading up to an election, by defining political activity so very broadly,” he adds.

When the targeting controversy first broke last May, President Obama said the IRS targeting was “inexcusable,” and added: “I’m angry about it.”

The “social welfare” and issue-advocacy 501c4 organizations have received special attention in part because their donors’ names generally do not have to be disclosed.

The controversy over IRS targeting dates back to May 2013. That’s when former IRS executive Lois Lerner revealed that IRS personnel had acted in what she called an “absolutely inappropriate” way by holding up the non-profit applications of groups with the terms “tea party,” “patriot,” or “9/12” in their names.

The IRS asked the targeted groups to answer intrusive questionnaires regarding their activities — ranging from information on their members’ employers, donors lists, and even in one case how much time a particular organization spent “on prayer groups.”

At the time, GOP Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, received several complaints. He wrote a letter of inquiry to then-acting IRS Commissioner Stephen T. Miller.

Miller wrote back with assurances that no conservative groups were being targeted. But not long after Lerner’s disclosure, Miller was asked to resign.

The Obama administration has portrayed the IRS affair as a limited imbroglio involving a few rogue agents in the IRS’s Cincinnati office.

But Mitchell says several of her clients were told a final decision on their applications would be handed down from IRS offices in Washington, D.C.

Not every grass-roots leader is concerned that conservative activists’ IRS problems will work to Democrats’ advantage, however. Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer is among those predicting it will backfire.

“When all this came out about the IRS targeting, it made people mad,” she tells Newsmax. “It made them mad as hell.

“…You get these individuals, under whatever local group, they don’t care: They’re going to go out there, and work their hearts and souls out for the cause.”

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By David A. Patten

Critics: $10B Obamacare Research Group’s Methods Don’t Work.


Researchers and economists are concerned that the Innovation Center, a research group allotted $10 billion through the Affordable Care Act, is not using the kind of randomized clinical trials needed to evaluate how to deliver healthcare effectively.

Random clinical trials are the method typically used to evaluate medical and social science research, reports The New York Times.

“It’s the greatest irony,” said Gordon Berlin, president of MDRC, whose studies influence policies on job training, welfare, and education. Groups that evaluate medical evidence say randomized clinical trials are the most reliable method, he noted.

“The results speak volumes about the path not taken,” said Berlin. “An extraordinary body of evidence has been built to inform welfare policy and practice while we have only just begun the process of learning what works in health policy.”

With randomized clinical tests, researchers assign two groups of people or institutions randomly to participate in a program, and then compare the outcomes between the two groups.

The Innovation Center instead uses demonstration projects which test an idea with all of the study’s participants and then relies on mathematical models to evaluate the results. The center currently has about 40 such research projects underway, The Times reports.

Center Director Dr. Patrick Conway said the method allows his researchers to evaluate Obamacare programs and adapt them.

“Does it look like it is working?” he asked. “If it does not look like it is working, we can stop.”

Studies so far have not yielded solid results, said Conway, because many of those in the control groups are not yet getting the programs that are being tested and tend to drop out.

Randomized trials in social policy follows a particular route, said Robert Boruch of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

“One of the typical events is a trial that serves as a benchmark, a precedent to show these things are useful,” he said. It often takes several years after initial clinical trials for randomized studies to start, he noted.

Already, a randomized study financed by the National Bureau of Economic Research, overturned one Obamacare assumption, that insured people would use emergency rooms less. However, a ScienceMag.org study shows that Medicaid recipients use emergency rooms more.

Critics also say that the Innovation Center’s research is one-sided, reports The Times.
“A lot of money is being spent,” said Jon Baron, president of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, but the Innovation Center’s research methods are “not going to provide credible answers.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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