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Posts tagged ‘Republicans’

Obama Administration Drops Proposal to Limit Medicare Drugs.


The Obama administration has abandoned a proposed change in Medicare after the plan was criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike.

The plan would have given health insurance companies more freedom to limit the number of drugs covered by Medicare. Those against the proposal said it would restrict seniors’ access to drugs they need.

Under current Medicare law, the majority of drugs across six classes are covered. The proposed plan would have limited that list to three classes — drugs that treat cancer, HIV and seizures.

“We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years,” Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner wrote to lawmakers Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky responded by saying the Obama administration should not go forward with its proposed cut in Medicare Advantage, a program that helps seniors pay for select medical services — including prescription drugs, also known as Part D.

“We remain concerned about the impact of Obamacare’s looming cuts to Medicare Advantage, something that was not addressed in today’s announcement,” McConnell said in a statement. “Seniors need to know whether the president will stand by his word, and that they can keep the plans they have and like.”

As the administration tries to regulate the industry more under the Affordable Care Act, seniors’ access to drugs has become a hot-button issue. Several proposals have popped up, ranging from limiting certain drugs depending on where the patient lives to allowing all pharmacies to dispense medication, regardless of the patient’s plan or healthcare network.

“We plan to finalize proposals related to consumer protections, anti-fraud provisions that have bipartisan support and transparency after taking into consideration the comments received during the public comment period,” Tavenner wrote.

The Partnership for Part D Access, a coalition based in Washington that advocates for the right of seniors to continue to receive prescription drug coverage, was pleased with Monday’s decision to ax the proposal.

“We are thrilled that [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] has listened to the loud chorus of support for maintaining beneficiary access to the life-saving drugs provided under Medicare Part D,” said coalition member Chuck Ingoglia, senior vice president of the National Council for Behavioral Health.

“Although we need to remain vigilant on this issue, we commend today’s action by CMS, which will allow millions of seniors to continue to confidently rely upon Medicare to provide them the drugs they need.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Jason Devaney

James Baker: Ukraine Crisis is New Cold War.


The crisis in Ukraine has the potential for spiraling out of control and could lead to “serious problems in the heart of Europe,” says former Secretary of State James Baker.

“It is clearly the most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War,” Baker said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

“For someone who was the last U.S. secretary of state during the Cold War, it’s very disappointing to me to see that we’re moving now from cooperation with Russia to confrontation again.”

Story continues below video.

Baker was secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1992.

Baker said he has no substantial disagreement with the way the Obama administration has handled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine so far, but added, “I’m not sure that all of this would have happened had we stuck with our red lines.”

Many Republicans have blamed President Barack Obama’s waffling over a “red line” he set with Syria over use of chemical weapons. When it was revealed last year the Bashar Assad regime had used the weapons on Syrian civilians, Obama first promised action, then went to Congress and allies.

Both Congress and the United Kingdom balked at backing an attack, and the situation was resolved only after Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to monitor Syria’s elimination of its chemical weapons stockpile.

Baker said he doesn’t agree with those who think Putin sees Obama as weak after that confrontation. But he does think Putin sees Obama as inconsistent.

Baker said he hopes a diplomatic solution can be reached because he thinks there’s no good endgame for the Russian Federation.

The risks are “very substantial,” Baker said, of the situation turning into more than a “small new Cold War, which I think we are pretty much in right now. I look at this as a Cold War lite.”
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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Greg Richter

Santorum: GOP Should Follow Pope’s Example to Gain Followers.


It’s possible to believe in your principles and still gain public support, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says.

Santorum told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that both Pope Francis and conservative Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have won over followers without changing their position on social issues, and Republicans can do the same.

“We’ve done a very bad job of connecting with working Americans, and we’re out there in a very stressful time in American history,” Santorum said during a round table during the news program. “People are full of fear and anxiety about their future, and we’re out there talking about cutting things.”

Story continues below video.

And while Santorum favors reducing the size of government and taxes, he said the issue is not simply about what’s going to be cut.

“When your whole answer is, ‘I’m going to cut your benefits, I’m going to cut taxes for rich people,’ you’re not cutting it with average people. And that to me is the real missing link here.”

But if Republicans would talk more like Pope Francis, maybe they would be more successful in attracting the followers they need to win races, argued Santorum, a devout Roman Catholic.

“Pope Francis hasn’t changed one doctrine of the Catholic Church, but he’s getting four times the crowds,” he said. “Why? Because of the way he’s communicating to the average person out there. We need to learn some lessons of who is out there actually trying to reach average folks . . . because average working Americans feel disconnected to this president.”

Santorum, who placed fifth in a straw poll of potential presidential candidates at this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference, went on to tell Wallace that he’s refusing to comment on whether he’s planning to run for president again. He said he’s holding off on answering that question until after this year’s midterm elections.

However, he admitted, “I will be in Iowa and New Hampshire this month.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Sarah Palin: No ‘Victory Lap’ Over Ukraine Prediction.


Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Friday that she is not doing a “victory lap” after triumphing over news reports that attacked her during the 2008 presidential campaign for predicting that Russian President Vladimir Putin would invade Ukraine if Barack Obama won the White House.

“There was a lot of pooh-poohing on a lot of things I said — and that wasn’t the only thing I was right about,” she told Greta Van Susteren on her Fox News program. “No victory lap, because I’d be interrupting them.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

“You don’t interrupt somebody when they’re in the process of destroying their own credibility,” she added. “That’s the media.”

Story continues below video.

Palin last week noted the press pounding she took for her Ukraine prediction on her Facebook page.

“Yes, I could see this one from Alaska,” Palin said on Facebook, noting that she said “told-ya-so” in the case of her “accurate prediction being derided as ‘an extremely far-fetched scenario’ by the ‘high-brow’ Foreign Policy magazine.

Palin, the GOP vice presidential candidate that year, will keynote the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington on Saturday.

She told Van Susteren that she planned to tell attendees that Republicans had “every reason to be optimistic” about this fall’s congressional elections because “there’s been a great awakening in America.

“People are finding out that Obamacare is very bad for our economy — for our businesses and for our families. The problems of Obamacare are being manifested at their own dinner tables, in their pocketbooks — and people are saying: ‘No. Enough is enough of this.'”

But Palin cautioned: “We’d better not let the establishment — those that go along to get along, with Obama in this case — we can’t let them dictate what the issues are and what the message is, even who the candidates are.”

The former governor reiterated her longstanding call for the repeal of President Obama’s signature domestic legislative achievement and praised Sen. Ted Cruz and others who continued to push for ending the healthcare law.

“It needs to be killed now,” she said. “Most of these politicians in office today had promised that they would do that.

“Yet, when they had the opportunity to defund Obamacare, using the tools that the Constitution provides them with and the power of the purse, they balked,” Palin added. “It was Ted Cruz and just a few of them who stood strong on what they had at their fingertips to defund it.”

Cruz, the first-term Texas senator who is backed by the tea party, spoke against Obamacare for 21 hours and 19 minutes on the Senate floor in September.

While noting that Cruz and Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul — who also has tea party support — are at the “top of my list” as 2016 candidates for the presidency, Palin said that she was not endorsing anyone at this point.

“I appreciate those who have fought for America,” she said in naming the senators. “It doesn’t have to be someone who has a title today, in office today.

“In fact, some would say that we need to stay clear of those who have followed a conventional political path. Maybe they’re part of the problem.

“There are businessmen and women out there,” Palin added. “There are strong family men and women who understand what it is that makes America exceptional and they want to protect that. They want to get back to that.

“Maybe someone like that will rise and be the candidate for 2016. Maybe that’s what we need.”

She declined to say whether she might join the 2016 fray, too.

“It sounds cliché, but you never say ‘never.’ At this point in time, I don’t have any of kind organization going. I’ll never say ‘never.’

“It depends on what Americans really, really want in a candidate,” Palin added. “If they want a fighter, if they want someone who can respect our exceptionalism — everything that makes America great, the promise of America — if they don’t find that, I would run.

“But I do think that there are so many Americans who feel like I feel — and they are capable. They’re willing and able to serve,” she said.

“They’re public servants. They’re willing and able to serve and to lead this country, so it doesn’t have to be me.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Todd Beamon

Cruz: Obama ‘Most Hostile’ US President to Israel.


Image: Cruz: Obama 'Most Hostile' US President to Israel

 

By Elliot Jager

Barack Obama “has been the president most hostile to the nation of Israel in modern times,” Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told the Israeli Haaretz newspaper.

Obama’s Iranian policies in particular “may well be setting the stage for the slaughter of millions of Israelis – or millions of Americans,” Cruz said.

The senator was interviewed by the newspaper – which is antagonistic toward the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – during the annual pro-Israel AIPAC conference in Washington earlier this week.

Cruz warned that Obama was undermining the “special relationship” between Washington and Jerusalem.

“For the president of the United States to threaten Israel with international isolation and to not-too-subtly threaten a withdrawal of American support for Israel is profoundly misguided and dangerous [for] both the nation of Israel and to the United States,” he said.

This unsympathetic attitude was not limited to the Obama White House. He said that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had deserted Israel by blocking Kirk-Menendez  – a bill supporters say would provide a greater incentive for Iranian nuclear negotiators to bargain in good faith or face U.S. sanctions harsher than those already imposed.

Beyond his stance on Israel, Cruz criticized Obama’s overall handling of American foreign policy.

“For five years under President Obama, America’s leadership in the world has consistently receded,” Cruz said.” As a direct consequence we’ve seen the spheres of influence of Russia and Iran and China expanding. For five years President Obama has alienated and abandoned our friends and allies and has pursued appeasement in negotiations with our enemies.”

Cruz said Obama had been “hectoring” and “blackmailing” Jerusalem “to accept terms that in Israel’s judgment are inconsistent with protecting its national security.” He said Obama was “embracing a false moral equivalence between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

Cruz said that there would be no peace so long as the “Palestinians continue to embrace terrorism and refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

GAO to Probe Flawed State Obamacare Exchanges.


Image: GAO to Probe Flawed State Obamacare ExchangesRep. Greg Walden

Spurred on by House Republicans, the investigative arm of Congress is looking into problems with state health exchange websites around the country. The U.S. Government Accountability Office will try to determine how $304 million in federal grants was spent on the Cover Oregon website, which has yet to enroll a single person online without special assistance.

The agency said due to similar requests from several members of Congress and congressional committees related to the rollout of online health care exchanges, it would broaden the investigation and issue several separate reports on its findings.

GAO spokesman Charles Young said just which states will be included with Oregon will be determined as the investigation goes forward. But 14 states and the District of Columbia opted to create their own exchanges and accepted federal funding to do so.

Republicans have been stepping up their attacks on troubled health exchanges during this election year, but Rep. Greg. Walden, R-Ore., said it was a non-partisan issue.

He noted Oregon Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley made their own requests for the GAO to investigate a day after the Republicans — Walden, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, and Reps. Joe Pitts and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania — filed theirs last month.

“The politics will play out where they may, good or bad,” Walden said. “That doesn’t mean you don’t ask questions. We need to get answers.”

Merkley said in a statement that he looked forward to the GAO’s recommendations “about how to fix the system and avoid this happening in the future.”

Cover Oregon spokesman Michael Cox said, “We will participate fully with the GAO as they conduct their work.”

Walden added that the probe of state websites would “piggyback nicely” on another GAO look at the federal health exchange website, which has already begun.

Separately, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has asked for an inspector general’s investigation into problems with the rollout of the health care law.

Some of the state exchanges have outperformed the federal exchange website, but others have trailed behind and faced significant challenges, including expensive fixes to glitches and lower projected enrollments.

In addition to Oregon, where residents on their own still can’t sign up for coverage in one sitting, the exchanges in Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Minnesota have faced major problems.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, called the investigation a political stunt.

“With House Republicans voting today for the 50th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it is disappointing but not surprising that Republicans are now using federal government resources to investigate state health exchanges instead of finding a productive way to help Americans access health care,” Schatz said in an emailed comment.

States with successful exchanges include Connecticut, Rhode Island, Kentucky and New York. Connecticut, which has far exceeded its enrollment goals for the open enrollment period, is setting up a consulting business and marketing an “exchange in a box” to other states.

Cover Oregon’s online enrollment system was supposed to launch in October, allowing individuals and small businesses to compare insurance plans and qualify for federal tax credits to subsidize the premiums. It wasn’t ready, however, forcing people to fill out a lengthy paper application that would have to be processed by hand. Pieces of the website are now working and some portions of the processing are automated, but significant problems still exist.

Republicans have contended problems were known for months before the launch. Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, has acknowledged mistakes were made but denies having prior knowledge of problems that kept the website from launching on time.

Other questions raised by the Republican request, crafted in consultation with the GAO, include:

  • What capability does the federal government have to reclaim those funds if Oregon abandons the state-run exchange and joins the federal one?
  • What other costs has Oregon incurred because of the website’s failure?
  • Did Cover Oregon’s status as a state organization play a role in its failure?
  • What steps could federal agencies have taken to assure state and federal oversight of projects like this in the future.

The Wyden-Merkley request asks more questions:

  • How were the federal funds used, including job creation, public and private contractors, software developers, and consumer education?
  • What efforts to enroll people outside the website have been successful, and what can be done to expand enrollment ahead of the March 31 deadline?
  • If taxpayer funds were mismanaged, can the federal government reclaim grant funds from contractors?
  • Was there anything in the Affordable Care Act that Cover Oregon did not respond to in its creation?
  • What can Oregon do to most quickly and efficiently overcome Cover Oregon’s problems and enroll more people?

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Diplomats Union Threatens to Sue Over Donor-Ambassadors.


The union that represents U.S. diplomats threatened Wednesday to sue the State Department unless it releases documents attesting to the qualifications of ambassadorial nominees amid a fierce debate over the credentials of several recent nominees.

The American Foreign Service Association said it would ask a court to compel the production of the documents, known as “Certificates of Demonstrated Competence,” if the department does not do so voluntarily by the end of Thursday. It said the department had ignored previous requests to have the documents released under Freedom of Information Act.

“AFSA remains concerned about the qualifications of several recent nominees,” the organization said in a statement. “AFSA’s goal is to ensure that the nation has the most qualified persons serving as ambassadors. AFSA believes that the President and the American people deserve nothing less.”

The lawsuit threat comes as the White House faces harsh criticism about a handful of ambassador nominees who have scant knowledge or expertise about the nations where they would serve. Several of those nominees were high-dollar campaign fundraisers and donors for President Barack Obama, raising concerns they were rewarded for their lucrative political support.

At least three recent ambassadorial nominees — George Tsunis for Norway, Noah Bryson Mamet for Argentina and Colleen Bell for Hungary — have raised concerns after poor performances in their confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. None has extensive experience with the nations where they would be stationed if confirmed.

Last month, AFSA, which represents about 16,000 current and retired diplomats, said it does not object to nominees who have little or no official diplomatic experience. But the group also unveiled a set of guidelines it said should be considered by the White House and Senate when choosing and confirming ambassadors.

Those include leadership, interpersonal and managerial skills, the ability to formulate high-level policy and knowledge of the foreign area.

An AFSA survey has found that 37 percent of ambassadors during President Barack Obama’s presidency are or have been political appointees.

That is the highest rate since former President Ronald Reagan’s administration in the 1980s and higher than the historical average of about 30 percent.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Police Laud Senate for Rejecting ‘Cop Killer’ Justice Nominee.


Image: Police Laud Senate for Rejecting 'Cop Killer' Justice Nominee Debo Adegbile

By Todd Beamon

Police organizations on Wednesday praised the Senate — and the Democrats who broke ranks — for blocking President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division after strong lobbying against Debo Adegbile, who once helped overturn the death sentence of a convicted “cop killer.”

“We were most gratified,” Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, told Newsmax. “We’re ecstatic – and we’re very grateful to the Democratic senators who voted ‘no’ on this nomination.”

The vote was 47-52, with eight Democrats joining Republicans to end debate on Adegbile’s nomination and send it to a full floor vote.

With 51 votes needed to proceed with the nomination, the move represented the Democrats’ first major defeat since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked “the nuclear option” regarding presidential appointees in November.

“There’s a whole bunch of other things that he can do well,” Johnson said of Adegbile. “There are a ton of other men and women who are very well qualified who can serve as the assistant attorney general for civil rights who don’t have this baggage of having defended a cop killer.”

Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he was “very proud and pleased that a majority of the Senate agreed with the FOP and other law-enforcement organizations on this nominee.”

“Many of our closest allies and champions . . . were conflicted between their belief that the president should be allowed to have his choice lead the civil rights division and the nearly unanimous opposition from the law-enforcement community,” he said.

“But I was very pleased and heartened that all of our allies, regardless of their vote today, listened to our earnest arguments and objections.”

Adegbile, 46, was working for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund when the organization intervened on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1981 and sentenced to death by a Pennsylvania court for brutally killing Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner after Abu-Jamal’s brother had been stopped by police.

The organization first became involved in the case in 2006, filing a court brief on Abu-Jamal’s behalf. Adegbile argued the case as the Legal Defense Fund’s head of litigation in 2011.

The death sentence was vacated by a federal court in a ruling that was later upheld by an appellate court and then allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court. Abu-Jamal is now serving life in prison.

The fund’s actions were strongly opposed by dozens of local and national police organizations — though they attracted such Hollywood celebrities as Ed Asner, Whoopi Goldberg, and Martin Sheen.

The slain officer’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, cheered Wednesday’s vote.

“I am very relieved that the Senate vote turned out the way it did,” she said in a posting on a website devoted to keeping her late husband’s memory alive. The headline on the statement read, “We Won.”

“I want to thank all of the senators that listened to their conscience and voted to block this nomination,” she said. “While this is a great result for my family, the law enforcement community and myself included, we know that we need to remain vigilant to ensure that this decision is not reconsidered.”

Seven Democrats broke ranks to vote with the Republicans. They were Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, John Walsh of Montana, and Chris Coons of Delaware.

Reid, who represents Nevada, then cast the eighth vote, which allows him to bring Adegbile’s nomination back for reconsideration. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination last month on a 10-8, party-line vote.

Adegbile is senior counsel to the committee’s chairman, Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

Even though White House officials hinted that Adegbile’s nomination might be withdrawn, President Barack Obama quickly condemned the vote, calling it a “travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”

Republicans hit the ground running in the Senate floor debate, with Pennsylvania’s other senator, Pat Toomey, reading a letter from Maureen Faulkner.

“Today, as my husband lies 33 years in his grave, his killer has become a wealthy celebrity,” the GOP legislator read.

“Old wounds have once again been ripped open, and additional insult is brought upon our law enforcement community in this country by President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile,” Toomey read.

Other senators charged that Adegbile’s connection to the Abu-Jamal case disqualified him from holding higher office and that his appointment would lead him to “politicize” the civil rights division.

“Everyone deserves a fair trial and a zealous legal defense,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote. “Lawyers aren’t personally responsible for the actions of their clients. But lawyers are responsible for their own actions.

“In this case, the nominee inserted his office in an effort to turn reality on its head, impugn honorable and selfless law-enforcement officers, and glorify an unrepentant cop killer,” the Kentucky Republican added. “This is not required by our legal system. On the contrary, it is noxious to it.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, noted that Adegbile’s nomination was opposed by Seth Williams, a Democrat who is Philadelphia’s district attorney.

He added that Adegbile had “a long history of advocating legal positions far outside the mainstream.”

“It’s a record that demonstrates he is simply too deeply committed to these liberal causes to be an effective and fair leader of the civil rights division,” Grassley said.

After the vote, Coons, the Delaware Democrat, called his vote “one of the most difficult I have taken since joining the Senate, but I believe it to be right for the people I represent.”

He said he supported the nomination at the committee level because it “should be debated and considered by the full Senate. As a lawyer, I understand the importance of having legal advocates willing to fight for even the most despicable clients, and I embrace the proposition that an attorney is not responsible for the actions of their client.”

“The decades-long public campaign by others, however, to elevate a heinous, cold-blooded killer to the status of a political prisoner and folk hero has caused tremendous pain to the widow of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and shown great disrespect for law-enforcement officers and families throughout our region,” Coons said.

Toomey said the vote represented “a good day for Pennsylvania, for America, and for those who believe in justice. It was a hard-fought victory to the end.”

“Today, the Senate affirmed that our criminal justice system must never be abused to propagate a dishonest, radical agenda,” Toomey said. “The American people, especially law enforcement and Maureen Faulkner, deserve better.”

Casey’s office released no statement on Wednesday’s vote, but the senator said on his website last week that he would not support Adegbile’s nomination.

“The vicious murder of Officer Faulkner in the line of duty and the events that followed in the 30 years since his death have left open wounds for Maureen Faulkner and her family as well as the city of Philadelphia,” Casey said.

Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus even hinted strongly that the vote would factor into this fall’s congressional elections.

Priebus called Adegbile “a convicted cop-killer’s most ardent defender,” and noted that several Democrats seeking new terms in swing states had voted to advance the nomination.

One such vulnerable Democrat, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, declined to comment on her vote for Adegbile, Politico reports.

Two other “red-state” Democrats facing tough challenges this fall, Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Begich of Alaska, also voted for the nomination.

Besides Coons, two other Democrats on the ballot this fall, Pryor in Arkansas and Walsh in Montana, voted against Adegbile’s nomination.

In a statement to Newsmax later Wedneday, McConnell slammed the nomination as an example of Reid’s abuse of the Senate rules when he invoked “the nuclear option” last year.

The move lowered the number of votes needed to end filibusters on presidential nominees from 60 to a simple majority.

“This particular nominee would likely not have been nominated at all but for the majority leader breaking the rules of the Senate last November,” McConnell said. “This nominee was so unfit that even seven Democrats couldn’t support it.

“You begin to get the picture here: part of the reason for lowering the threshold was so that the president could send up anybody he wanted to, and presumably get them confirmed,” McConnell added. “He was too difficult for even seven Democrats to swallow.”

In sizing up the Senate vote to Newsmax, NAPO’s Johnson echoed McConnell.

“We figured that Sen. Casey would vote ‘no’ because Officer Faulkner was from Philadelphia, but we were really wondering which Democrats would come around.

“The bottom line was that this was just a poorly-thought-out nomination,” Johnson said. “Some of the most sensitive cases out there fall within his purview at the Department of Justice.

“It really just demands the highest level of implicit trust — both ways, between law enforcement and the attorneys at the Justice Department — in order to prosecute these cases.”

Based in Alexandria, Va., NAPO represents more than 250,000 sworn police officers.

“It really could have saved a lot of energy and heartache for the family and coworkers of Officer Faulkner” if Adegbile had not been nominated, Johnson told Newsmax. “To have this case dragged through the press again and again, it never ends.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

GOP’s Blakeman: Hillary Could Have Prevented Russian Attack.


Hillary Clinton failed to anticipate Vladimir Putin’s designs on Ukraine territory and should have taken steps to deter Russian aggression, former Bush-era presidential assistant Bradley A. Blakeman charged Wednesday.

Blakeman noted that Clinton, the former secretary of state and leading Democratic contender for the nomination in 2016, played a high-profile role in hitting the “reset button” on U.S.-Russian relations.

“Maybe she could have prevented this if she had done her job correctly,” he said, “and had [used] the power of persuasion with our allies and others to call attention to Russia’s intentions.”

Blakeman, speaking in an exclusive Newsmax interview, said that while Hillary was pressing the reset button with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, “the Russians were pressing the reject button.”

He added: “They saw America as being weak. They saw Obama as being weak, and somebody that could be exploited.”

Clinton has come under increasing attack from Republicans in recent weeks on issues ranging from Benghazi to her advocacy of the individual mandate that became the linchpin of Obamacare. She appeared to try to get out in front of the Ukraine issue Tuesday while speaking to the media in Long Beach, Calif.

She likened Russia’s pretext for the invasion to Nazi Germany’s push for Lebensraum in the 1930s.  Said Clinton: “The ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right, I must go and protect my people. And that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”

Any resolution of the conflict, Clinton said, must not sanction a de facto annexation by Russia of the Crimea.

During the 2012 campaign, Clinton criticized GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney for his view that Russia was America’s No. 1 geopolitical foe. “I think it’s somewhat dated to be looking backwards instead of being realistic about where we agree, where we don’t agree,” Clinton told CNN that April in response to Romney’s statement.

But now it appears Romney had a point, Blakeman said.

“She was so out of touch with foreign policy and relationships,” said Blakeman, “that she couldn’t see the forest for the trees that Romney was right, that Putin was no friend of the United States, and had every inclination in causing us problems whether it was in Syria or Iran, and using his power of division to conquer. And that’s exactly what he did.”

He added that Clinton should have discerned Russia’s interest in seizing Ukrainian territory and taken steps to deter it.

Blakeman is a GOP strategist and former assistant to then-President George W. Bush. Now a faculty member at Georgetown University, he is among a growing number of Republicans taking a second look at Clinton’s record in light of Putin’s unchecked militarism in central Europe.

The full geopolitical ramifications of the Russian occupation of Crimea are only now emerging.

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, in an appearance Tuesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, noted that Ukraine gave up a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons in 1994 in return for Russian guarantees to honor its territorial sovereignty. Kristol said the West’s apparent tolerance for the Russian invasion sends a strong message that encourages nuclear proliferation.

“The signal it sends is not only don’t give up your nuclear weapons, [but] build nuclear weapons!” he remarked. “That will guarantee your safety. Everything else is just talk. It’s a horrible, horrible message to let get out in Europe itself, in Eastern Europe especially.”

Kristol added that the Obama administration’s view that it could induce Putin’s Russia into becoming a cooperative member of the world community — the objective of its much-maligned “reset” strategy — should be fair game for criticism.

“That was a centerpiece of Obama administration policy,” Kristol said. “…I think some of us who have been critical of that for a few years are entitled to say, ‘Can we now acknowledge that was a mistake and has failed?'”

According to Blakeman, Clinton’s role in the administration’s attempt to woo the Russians could become a major issue in the 2016 campaign — particularly if Putin continues to provoke Western powers.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By David A. Patten

‘Growing Crescendo’ in GOP to Hold Lerner in Contempt


There’s a “growing crescendo” to hold retired IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her repeated refusal to testify about the tax agency’s targeted scrutiny of tea party groups, one House Oversight Committee member said Wednesday.

In the wake of a contentious less-than-10-minute hearing where Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination — triggering an angry exchange between committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa and ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings — North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows said “The American people … want to hold those people accountable.. and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“There is a growing crescendo that they should hold her in contempt of Congress and the American people get what they deserve,” Meadows told Fox News.

Among the GOP chorus calling for a contempt charge is House Speaker John Boehner.

“She has to testify or she should be held in contempt,” the Ohio Republican said after the hearing, saying he’d wait for a report from Issa.

A contempt vote could lead to a criminal prosecution — and fan the controversy that erupted last year when the agency’s extra scrutiny of tea party-backed nonprofits came to light.

Issa’s committee since then has held five hearings, issued three subpoenas for documents and interviewed IRS officials.

Democrats howled after the hearing, where Cummings had demanded he be given a right to speak before adjournment — but instead had his microphone turned off.

“I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America,” Cummings yelled as Issa dismissed the meeting and cut of microphones. “I am tired of this.

“We have members over here, each who represent 700,000 people. You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely something wrong with that. And, it’s absolutely un-American,” Cummings yelled.

“We had a hearing. We are adjourned. I gave you an opportunity to ask a question. You had no questions,” Issa, a Republican from California, responded.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, slammed Issa for conducting a “witch hunt.”

“What we’re seeing in the House today is a sign of larger dysfunction and partisanship on behalf of Republicans,” Van Hollen told MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown,” according to Politico.

“Darrell Issa has been conducting this political witch hunt for a long time now. He’s frustrated because he hasn’t been able to come up with any evidence of intentional political wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration, and so he’s getting frustrated and making stuff up.”

Democratic National Committee chair, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, called Issa’s conduct at the Wednesday hearing comparable to oppression in Ukraine and Venezuela, according to Politico, saying she was “stunned” that Issa would try to silence Cummings by cutting off his mic.

Cummings continued speaking for about 10 minutes; Lerner remained seated.

Issa said he’ll decide by next week whether his committee will seek to hold Lerner in contempt.

Lerner first appeared before the committee last May, when she also invoked the Fifth Amendment after maintaining that she was innocent of wrongdoing. The committee determined the following month that Lerner waived her right against self-incrimination by making that statement.

A Treasury inspector general’s report has since determined the IRS had used inappropriate criteria to scrutinize groups, though it found no evidence of a political motivation.

The Justice Department is involved in a criminal probe of the matter.

The IRS has since proposed new rules for handling social welfare groups engaged in political activity, though conservative groups have called them too restrictive.

Bloomberg news contributed to this report

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By Wanda Carruthers and Cathy Burke

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