Letter from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to NBC News
The Wall Street Journal
A chill wind has changed police behavior, and now violent crime is rising. Its victims are almost entirely young black men.
From a speech by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B. Comey at the University of Chicago Law School, Oct. 23:
Part of being clear-eyed about reality requires all of us to stare—and stare hard—at what is happening in this country this year. And to ask ourselves what’s going on.
Because something deeply disturbing is happening all across America. I have spoken of 2014 in this speech because something has changed in 2015. Far more people are being killed in America’s cities this year than in many years. And let’s be clear: far more people of color are being killed in America’s cities this year. And it’s not the cops doing the killing.
We are right to focus on violent encounters between law enforcement and civilians. Those incidents can teach all of us to be better. But something much bigger is happening. Most of America’s 50 largest cities have seen an increase in homicides and shootings this year, and many of them have seen a huge increase. These are cities with little in common except being American cities—places like Chicago, Tampa, Minneapolis, Sacramento, Orlando, Cleveland, and Dallas.
In Washington, D.C., we’ve seen an increase in homicides of more than 20% in neighborhoods across the city. Baltimore, a city of 600,000 souls, is averaging more than one homicide a day—a rate higher than that of New York City, which has 13 times the people. Milwaukee’s murder rate has nearly doubled over the past year.
And who’s dying? Police chiefs say the increase is almost entirely among young men of color, at crime scenes in bad neighborhoods where multiple guns are being recovered.
That’s yet another problem that white America can drive around, but if we really believe that all lives matter, as we must, all of us have to understand what is happening. Communities of color need to demand answers. Police and civilian leaders need to demand answers. Academic researchers need to hit this hard.
What could be driving an increase in murder in some cities across all regions of the country, all at the same time? What explains this map and this calendar? Why is it happening in all of different places, all over and all of a sudden? . . .
Nobody says it on the record, nobody says it in public, but police and elected officials are quietly saying it to themselves. And they’re saying it to me, and I’m going to say it to you. And it is the one explanation that does explain the calendar and the map and that makes the most sense to me.
Maybe something in policing has changed. In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime? Are officers answering 911 calls but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys from standing around, especially with guns?
I spoke to officers privately in one big city precinct who described being surrounded by young people with mobile phone cameras held high, taunting them the moment they get out of their cars. They told me, “We feel like we’re under siege and we don’t feel much like getting out of our cars.” I’ve been told about a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video.
So the suggestion, the question that has been asked of me, is whether these kinds of things are changing police behavior all over the country. And the answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know whether this explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.
Part of that behavior change is to be welcomed, as we continue to have important discussions about police conduct and de-escalation and the use of deadly force. Those are essential discussions and law enforcement will get better as a result.
But we can’t lose sight of the fact that there really are bad people standing on the street with guns. The young men dying on street corners all across this country are not committing suicide or being shot by the cops. They are being killed, police chiefs tell me, by other young men with guns.
Lives are saved when those potential killers are confronted by a strong police presence and actual, honest-to-goodness, up-close “What are you guys doing on this corner at one o’clock in the morning?” policing. All of us, civilian and law enforcement, white, black, and Latino, have an interest in that kind of policing. . . .
If what we are seeing in America this year continues, we will be back to talking about how law enforcement needs to help rescue black neighborhoods from the grip of violence. All lives matter too much for us to let that happen. We need to figure out what’s happening and deal with it now.
By John Fund
How bad were CNBC’s debate moderators last night? So bad that they were ridiculed by even their liberal colleagues. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo called out “perhaps the most comically poor debate prep we’ve ever seen in a national debate. Are these folks even journalists?” Adam Nagourney of the New York Times asked mid-debate: “Would it be hard to do a panel swap-out during the break? Is Jake Tapper or Chris Wallace in the wings?” Think Progress, which almost functions as Hillary’s personal blog, admitted the debate “was kind of a train wreck.”
Then there was the bias. Usually liberal journalists are far better at hiding their biases than CNBC’s inept and sneering moderators at last night’s debate. Questions asked in an insulting tone, interruptions of candidates in mid-sentence, injections of personal opinion and shouting down candidates attempting to defend themselves.
CNBC began the evening full of bravado, showcasing its “star” panelists and then allowing them to deliver vapid commentary on the debate for 15 minutes before the debate started. It ended almost trying to pretend the debate never happened. CNBC quickly switched to a rerun of a show called “Profit,” appropriate since their show could have been called “Loss.” As of this writing, CNBC moderators John Harwood, Carl Quintinella and Becky Quick have been completely silent on their Twitter accounts except for a single odd retweet from Harwood.
There were bizarre low points. Harwood went after the income distribution of tax cuts in Marco Rubio’s tax plan and directly disputed Rubio’s contention that Harwood had raised the same issue two weeks ago and had to correct himself. But indeed, Harwood had.
Becky Quick admitted she was unsure of Donald Trump’s stance on high-skill immigrant visas after he pushed back on her question about it. She first claimed that Trump had criticized Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for wanting more H-1B visas for immigrants. Trump denied it and Quick caved and admitted her own confusion. “Where did I come up with this?” she asked, “That you were..?”
Trump interrupted: “I don’t know. You people write this stuff.”
Quick then also backtracked for accusing Trump of aiding Marco Rubio “Mark Zuckerburg’s personal senator,” after Trump said he “never said that.” She even apologized to Trump. But Trump was either bluffing or hadn’t read his own immigration plan. The statement about Zuckerberg and Rubio is right there on Trump’s campaign website. Quick noted that later in the debate – but not nearly quick enough.
I’ve watched a lot of debates in which liberal media bias has been evident. But I have never seen it unite Republican presidential candidates like it did last night. They rose up in revolt and called out the moderators for it – led by Ted Cruz and followed effectively by Rubio, Christie and Trump. it was an epic moment, and I think it rattled the cages of mainstream media types everywhere. Look for better behaved, more restrained and more prepared moderators in future debates regardless of the network involved. There is an alternative. Ben Carson’s campaign staff has already warned they are thinking of breaking free of the RNC’s debate straightjacket, gathering a bunch of candidates and finding their own debut venue where they have input on the rules of engagement.
RNC Statement On The CNBC Republican Debate
WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus released the following statement at the conclusion of the CNBC Republican Primary Debate:
"While I was proud of our candidates and the way they handled tonight’s debate, the performance by the CNBC moderators was extremely disappointing and did a disservice to their network, our candidates, and voters. Our diverse field of talented and exceptionally qualified candidates did their best to share ideas for how to reinvigorate the economy and put Americans back to work despite deeply unfortunate questioning from CNBC," said Chairman Priebus.
"One of the great things about our party is that we are able to have a dynamic exchange about which solutions will secure a prosperous future, and I will fight to ensure future debates allow for a more robust exchange. CNBC should be ashamed of how this debate was handled.”
Late last Friday the Department of Justice announced attorneys would not be issuing criminal charges to Lois Lerner, the former head of tax exempt organizations at the IRS and the woman at the center of the IRS targeting scandal.
It was no surprise DOJ announced it wasn't pressing charges, because after all, considering DOJ attorneys colluded with Lerner on efforts to throw at least one conservative leader in jail to send a message, they'd also have to bring charges against themselves. As a reminder:
Last year emails revealed former IRS official Lois Lerner was in contact with the Department of Justice Criminal Division about criminally prosecuting conservative tea party groups for pursuing political activity (opposed to President Obama's agenda) by "posing" as non-profit organizations.
Now, new documents obtained by government watchdog Judicial Watch through two different Freedom of Information Act lawsuits show extensive collaboration between the IRS and DOJ (and subsequently the FBI) to go after conservative groups with criminal charges. The IRS likely violated federal law by illegally sharing 1.25 million pages of taxpayer information with DOJ, which were contained on nearly two dozen FBI backup tapes. Further, information shows DOJ wanted IRS officials who were scheduled to testify in front of Congress about the targeting scandal to turn over planned remarks to them first before delivering on Capitol Hill.
Now that DOJ has issued its non-punishment, individuals and groups targeted by the IRS, DOJ and Lerner are speaking out.
"We're still in court fighting it out. The irony even in our court case is that the same attorneys that closed the investigation are also defending the IRS against us in court. This is a lawless generation, a lawless administration where criminals go free and Americans fear their government," True The Vote President and Founder Catherine Engelbrecht said during an interview with Fox News yesterday. "It certainly makes a mockery out of everything we've been through over the past two years."
“By failing to indict Lois Lerner, the Obama Justice Department – or, should we say, the Obama Injustice Department – is making a mockery of this ‘investigation,’ when countless American citizens, by Ms. Lerner’s own admission, were persecuted by the Internal Revenue Service. This is a woman, after all, who looked into the camera at a national television audience and directly at a congressional committee and refused to answer their questions for fear of incriminating herself," Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin said in a statement. “This is just the latest evidence that the Justice Department, whether under Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch, has simply become the political hatchet-men for President Obama and his cronies throughout the Administration. Clearly, we cannot rely on the Department of Justice to provide justice. Consequently, we continue to urge Congress to vigorously investigate the IRS, Ms. Lerner, and their illegal persecution of law abiding American citizens. If Speaker-To-Be Paul Ryan wants to earn support from grassroots activists across the country, he will not let Congress rest until justice is done.”
By Guy Benson
[Clinton] cautioned that “it’s not been as widespread as it has been made out to be” on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” on Friday. The former first lady blamed Republicans for using the issue as part of an “ideological agenda” and said they want the VA to fail. “Now nobody would believe that from the coverage you see, and the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans, in – in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have,” Clinton said. “They try to create a downward spiral, don’t fund it to the extent that it needs to be funded, because they want it to fail, so then we can argue for privatization.”
Before we proceed any further, kindly allow me to remind you that Hillary Clinton's party is currently filibustering a bill that funds the VA, using America's veterans as a bargaining chip to try to force Republicans to agree to unrelated spending increases. President Obama is engaged in similar "hostage taking," having just vetoed bipartisan defense legislation that, among other things, would pay the troops. Setting that aside, let's address Mrs. Clinton's arguments one by one:
(1) The VA's struggles are attributable to the GOP's refusal to adequately fund the agency, with its failure being a deliberate ideological goal. Wrong on all counts. The VA's problem is not underfunding; its budget nearly tripled between 2000 and 2012, outpacing both the rate of medical price inflation and new patient demand. In the wake of the VA scandal, which shocked and angered Americans, Congress earmarked billions in additional funds for the agency. The wait time problem has gotten worse. Providing quality healthcare to the veterans who've earned our help is a bipartisan priority. It's one of the few forms of government-run healthcare that both sides agree is appropriate. The VA mess has nothing to do with Republican ideology or insufficient government expenditures. It's failing all on its own, under the crushing weight of bureaucratic excess, inefficiency and corruption.
(2) The VA scandal itself has "not been as widespread as it has been made out to be." By what possible metric? The agency's Inspector General has called the wait time manipulation abuses "systemic" in nature. Here's a Daily Beast headline from last spring: "VA Admits Fraud is 'Systemic.'" USA Today: "Delayed care is everywhere." Another IG report published this fall concluded that, "more than 300,000 American military veterans likely died while waiting for health care -- and nearly twice as many are still waiting...[the report] says 'serious' problems with enrollment data are making it impossible to determine exactly how many veterans are actively seeking health care from the VA." Once again, the already-unacceptable wait times have increased. "Not widespread," Hillary shrugs.
(3) Those veterans who do manage to get care are satisfied with their treatment. Some veterans do get good quality care from the VA. Others have had decidedly negative experiences. The trouble is that far, far to few of them receive timely care. That's the whole problem -- the chronic, broad-based cover-up of which exploded into a major scandal. Clinton denounces (and overstates) Republicans' desire to "privatize" the VA, but guess who favors increased private options within the system? The vast majority of veterans, according to poll reported by the Military Times in February.
Hillary Clinton tries to lay this abject failure of big, corrupt, inept government at the feet of her political opponents, relying on flimsy evidence and outright distortions to do so. Her mistaken belief that the scope of the VA scandal has been overblown by Republicans betrays a fanatical partisanship and unbending ideological commitment to the proposition of ever-expanding government, no matter how stark and tragic its failures may be. She is wholly incapable of fixing a problem that she willfully refuses to even acknowledge; the result is crippling denial, coupled with partisan point-scoring. Her callousness and cluelessness demonstrated in the clip above present an opportunity for conservatives to build both a political case against her as a candidate, and an ideological case against sprawling, unaccountable Statism. The ponderous federal bureaucracy can't even properly execute critical, consensus tasks on which virtually all Americans agree. Perhaps we shouldn't be empowering them with even more authority and responsibility.
By Greg Richter
Former President George W. Bush did not lie about the presence of weapons of mass destruction to justify the Iraq War, journalist Bob Woodward said Sunday.
The argument has been used for years by Democrats and other detractors, but Woodward said on "Fox News Sunday" that his own 18-month investigation showed that Bush was actually skeptical that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had WMDs as Saddam claimed.
Though plenty of mistakes were made in the invasion of Iraq, Bush actually told CIA Director George Tenet, "Don’t let anyone stretch the case on WMD," Woodward said.
The reason the United States went into Iraq was "momentum," he said.
"That war plan kept getting better and easier, and finally at the end people were saying, 'Hey, look, it'll only take a week or two.'"
Though it can be argued the war was a mistake, Woodward told host Chris Wallace, "there was no lie in this that I could find."
As for President Barack Obama's decision to leave no residual force behind when American troops left Iraq in December 2011, Woodward indicated it would have been better to have left 10,000-15,000 troops behind as "an insurance policy" as military commanders suggested.
"We have 30,000 troops or more in South Korea still, 65 years or so after the war," Woodward said. "When you’re a superpower, you have to buy these insurance policies, and he didn’t in this case. I don’t think you can say everything is because of that decision — but clearly a factor."
By Thomas Sowell
The grand illusion of zealots for laws preventing ordinary, law-abiding people from having guns is that "gun control" laws actually control guns. In a country with many millions of guns, not all of them registered, this is a fantasy and a farce.
Guns do not vanish into thin air because there are gun control laws. Guns -- whether legal or illegal -- can last for centuries. Passing laws against guns may enable zealots to feel good about themselves, but at the cost of other people's lives.
Why anyone would think that criminals who disobey other laws, including laws against murder, would obey gun control laws is a mystery. A disarmed population makes crime a safer occupation and street violence a safer sport.
The "knockout game" of suddenly throwing a punch to the head of some unsuspecting passer-by would not be nearly so much fun for street hoodlums, if there was a serious risk that the passer-by was carrying a concealed firearm.
Being knocked out in a boxing ring means landing on the canvas. But being knocked out on a street usually means landing on concrete. Victims of the knockout game have ended up in the hospital or in the morgue.
If, instead, just a few of those who play this sick "game" ended up being shot, that would take a lot of the fun out of it for others who are tempted to play the same "game."
Even in places where law-abiding citizens are allowed to own guns, they are seldom allowed to carry concealed weapons -- even though concealed weapons protect not only those who carry them, but also protect those who do not, for the hoodlums and criminals have no way of knowing in advance who is armed and who is not.
Another feature of gun control zealotry is that sweeping assumptions are made, and enacted into law, on the basis of sheer ignorance. People who know nothing about guns, and have never fired a shot in their lives, much less lived in high-crime areas, blithely say such things as, "Nobody needs a 30-shot magazine."
Really? If three criminals invaded your home, endangering the lives of you and your loved ones, are you such a sharpshooter that you could take them all out with a clip holding ten bullets? Or a clip with just seven bullets, which is the limit you would be allowed under gun laws in some places?
Do you think that someone who is prepared to use a 30-shot magazine for criminal purposes is going to be deterred by a gun control law? All the wonderful-sounding safeguards in such laws restrict the victims of criminals, rather than the criminals themselves. That is why such laws cost lives, instead of saving lives.
Are there dangers in a widespread availability of guns? Yes! And one innocent death is one too many. But what makes anyone think that there are no innocent lives lost by disarming law-abiding people while criminals remain armed?
If we are going to be serious, as distinguished from being political, we need to look at hard evidence, instead of charging ahead on the basis of rhetoric. Sweeping assumptions need to be checked against facts. But that is seldom what gun control zealots do.
Some gun control zealots may cherry-pick statistics comparing nations with and without strong gun control laws, but cherry-picking is very different from using statistics to actually test a belief.
Among the cherry-picked statistics is that England has stronger gun control laws than the United States and much lower murder rates. But Mexico, Brazil and Russia all have stronger gun control laws than the United States -- and much higher murder rates.
A closer look at the history of gun laws in England tells a very different story than what you get from cherry-picked statistics. The murder rate in New York over the past two centuries has been some multiple of the murder rate in London -- and, for most of that time, neither city had strong restrictions on the ownership of guns.
Beginning in 1911, New York had stronger restrictions on gun ownership than London had -- and New York still had murder rates that were a multiple of murder rates in London. It was not the laws that made the difference in murder rates. It was the people. That is also true within the United States.
But are gun control zealots interested in truth or in political victory? Or perhaps just moral preening?