Sunday, January 31, 2016

Trumping hydrocarbon fuels and consumers

Too many presidential candidates court corporate cash by promoting ethanol by Paul Driessen at CFACT.org

Donald Trump loves to tout his poll numbers. But if he’s doing so well, why does he pander to Iowa’s ethanol interests?

The gambit might garner a few caucus votes among corn growers and ethanol producers. It certainly brings plaudits from renewable energy lobbyists and their political enablers. But it could (and should) cost him votes in many other quarters – beyond the Corn Ethanol Belt and even in Iowa.

The fact is, the 14.5-billion-gallon-per-year ethanol mandate prolongs policies that are bad for consumers and the environment. And yet many presidential candidates and other politicians support it.

The ethanol mandate forces refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline. It’s the epitome of feel-good government programs run amok. Congress enacted the steadily expanding ethanol blending requirement to stave off the “imminent” depletion of crude oil worldwide, decrease US imports of oil whose price was “only going to increase,” reduce gasoline costs for motorists, and prevent manmade climate change.

We now know all these concerns were misplaced. In fact, the ethanol mandate fails every economic and environmental test.

The “fracking revolution” (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) has unleashed a gusher of US oil and gas production. Domestic oil production in 2014 reached its highest level in 114 years, and the United States is now the world’s biggest hydrocarbon producer. Global crude and American gasoline prices have plummeted.

Fracking technology can be applied to shale deposits anywhere in the world, and even to conventional oil fields, ensuring that the world has at least another century of oil and natural gas supplies – and ample time to develop new energy technologies that we cannot even conceive of today.

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Since ethanol gets a third less mileage than pure gasoline, adding ethanol to fuel actually increases fuel costs per tank, especially when crude oil fetches less than $30 per barrel and regular gasoline is under $2 per gallon in most states. For motorists driving 15,000 miles a year, $1.85-per-gallon gas means $1,200 in savings, compared to April 2012 prices. Ending the ethanol mandate would save them even more.

As to climate change, numerous studies demonstrate that there is no credible evidence that manmade carbon dioxide is causing dangerous global warming. Moreover, rising CO2 emissions from China, India and other rapidly developing nations overwhelm any imaginable US reductions.

The ethanol mandate has devolved into a black hole that sucks hard-earned cash from consumers’ wallets, while padding the pockets of special interests and their political patrons. Poor, minority, middle class and blue-collar families are especially hard hit.

Devoting 40% of America’s corn crop to ethanol production has significantly increased corn prices and thus the price of all foods that utilize the grain: beef, milk, pork, chicken, eggs, farm-raised fish, and countless products that include corn syrup. The corn converted into biofuel each year could feed more than 400,000,000 malnourished people in impoverished and war-torn countries.

Ethanol is corrosive and mixes easily with water, resulting in serious damage to gaskets and engines. Consumers have spent billions “degunking” and repairing cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles, chain saws and other small engine equipment, to prevent (or in the aftermath of) fuel leaks, engine failures and even fires. Vehicle, outdoor equipment and marine engine manufacturers warn against using gasoline blends containing more than 10% ethanol.

The mandate raised fuel costs nationwide by an estimated $83 billion between 2007 and 2014. In New England it is expected to cost the economy $20 billion, reduce labor income by $7.3 billion, and eliminate more than 7,000 jobs annually between 2005 and 2024. It has cost Californians $13.1 billion in higher fuel costs since 2005, and could inflict $28.8 billion in additional costs there by 2025.

Corn ethanol’s ecological impacts have convinced the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Environmental Working Group (EWG) and other organizations to oppose further extensions of the mandate. More than 35,000,000 acres (an area larger than Iowa) are now devoted to growing corn for ethanol, and the EWG says the mandate encourages farmers to convert extensive wetlands and grasslands into cornfields.

Growing corn, turning it into ethanol and trucking it to refineries (since it attracts water, it cannot be carried by pipeline) also requires vast amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticides, diesel fuel and natural gas. Only a tiny fraction of that acreage, water and fuel is required to produce far more energy via fracking.

Contrary to Environmental Protection Agency claims that ethanol helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions, those lands released an additional 27,000,000 tons of CO2 in 2014, the EWG calculates. In fact, the group says, corn ethanol results in more carbon dioxide emissions than estimated for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The United States also imports sugarcane ethanol from Brazil. The American Energy Alliance says the EPA does not account for the associated greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, EPA calls sugarcane ethanol an “advanced” fuel, even though it has been around since the 1920s.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) set expectations for biofuel development based on aspirations, not reality. It assumed switch-grass and wood waste could be converted into advanced cellulosic fuels, but the process has proven very costly and difficult. In an effort to hide this inconvenient truth, EPA now defines even some kinds of liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas and electricity as derived from cellulosic fuels, in an effort to meet the mandate – even though none of these fuels can be blended into gasoline.

It’s encouraging that EPA’s Inspector General wants the agency’s pro-ethanol rhetoric investigated.

Many consumers are rejecting ethanol-blended fuels, and sales of straight gasoline have climbed from just over 3% of total US gasoline demand in 2012 to nearly 7% in 2014.

Simply put, the ethanol mandate is a disaster. When the government writes fuel recipes and meddles in the free market system, everyone loses except ethanol special interests. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is right: ethanol mandates and energy subsidies should all be terminated. Let biofuel, wind and solar power compete on their own merits, instead of being force-fed to consumers and taxpayers.

However, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has made support for ethanol a litmus test for the February 1 presidential caucuses. He wants Senator Cruz defeated for opposing the ethanol mandate. The governor’s stance also reflects the fact his son heads up the pro-ethanol America’s Energy Future lobbying group, and ethanol interests have contributed sizable amounts to the six-term Republican governor’s reelection campaigns.

There’s even a pro-ethanol van following Mr. Cruz around Iowa, to change recent polling results that found half of Iowa voters do not care much or at all about preserving the federal corn ethanol mandate.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump still thinks the mandate should be increased from this year’s 14.5 billion gallons to the full 15 billion gallons allowed under the antiquated RFS law. Jeb Bush and Chris Christy also support ethanol coercion. While this position might be politically expedient in Iowa, its affect on voters beyond the Hawkeye State is likely negative.

Mr. Trump and other candidates often say they will surround themselves with experts who know their stuff on important issues. Their pro-ethanol stance makes you wonder which wunderkinds are advising them right now. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, by contrast, share Senator Cruz’s disdain for energy mandates and subsidies.

The issue is a small but important indication of what’s at stake in the 2016 presidential election.
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Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.
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Extraordinary generosity of ordinary Americans

From the files of Jeff Jacoby at The Boston Globe

The Almanac of American Philanthropy is something new under the sun: a sweeping reference guide to one of the most remarkable institutions of American life — private charity.

Published by the Philanthropy Roundtable and running more than 1,300 pages, it is the first definitive work on the history, variety, and impact of private giving in the United States.

The scope of American philanthropy is unparalleled anywhere on Earth. In 2014, Americans gave nearly $360 billion to charity, the highest total ever recorded. Most of it didn't come from plutocrats and vast charitable endowments.

Though the good works of private foundations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or the Ford Foundation, draw plenty of notice, they account for only 14 percent of charitable giving in this country. And just 5 percent comes from corporations.

The overwhelming share of that $360 billion is donated by individuals. Not everyone gives, of course, but in this country those who don't are decidedly in the minority. Nearly seven out of 10 American households donate to at least one charitable cause each year, at an average annual rate of about $2,600.

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Philanthropic giving is a quintessentially American behavior, and always has been. It is also a radiant example of American exceptionalism. The new Almanac ranks 14 leading industrial countries by the amount of charity their citizens give yearly (calculated as a percentage of GDP).

Americans were by far the most charitable — roughly twice as generous as Canadians, Spaniards, and the Irish, for instance, and more than 20 times as apt to give as Germans and Italians.

As Karl Zinsmeister writes in the Almanac's lively and enlightening introduction, "philanthropy is a huge part of what makes America America." Huge in its moral and social impact, to be sure, but also huge as a matter of economics.

The nonprofit sector in the United States employs 11 percent of the US workforce and supplies 6 percent of national GDP — and that doesn't include the economic impact of nearly 8 billion hours of service by 63 million American volunteers, an impact that last year was worth an estimated $184 billion.

America's formidable "military-industrial complex," Zinsmeister notes, isn't nearly so formidable when compared with American philanthropy complex: Nonprofits surpassed defense as a share of the US economy more than two decades ago.

For those raised to regard charitable giving as indispensable to meaningful lives and healthy societies, it can come as a jolt to discover not just that some people give little or nothing to charity, but that there are those who actually disparage charitable giving itself.

In a 1964 interview, Ayn Rand said that her views on charity were "very simple: I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty." John Steinbeck, whose political views were as far to the left as Rand's were to the right, also disdained philanthropy. "Giving is a selfish pleasure, and in many cases is a downright destructive and evil thing," he railed.

Rationalizations for not donating certainly aren't hard to find. "Most People Shouldn't Be Giving To Charity," advises an essay at the Business Insider website. A writer at Slate makes "The Economic Case Against Philanthropy."

Yet anyone who doubts the amazing power of charity to work prodigies of good in the world need only open the Almanac of American Philanthropy to encounter a myriad of illustrations.

The book ranges across four centuries of charitable accomplishments, documenting the fantastic profusion of philanthropic achievements that have advanced human health, alleviated poverty, promoted the arts, protected nature, deepened learning, supported religious communities, and fed the hungry at home and abroad.

The charitable causes to which Americans have rallied and donated spans a mind-boggling spectrum — from the abolishing slavery to combating smoking, from ministering to prisoners to encouraging transatlantic flight, from creating the Red Cross to caring for aged sailors, from protecting endangered species to building orchestras . . . and on and on.

Zinsmeister refutes some common criticisms of philanthropy. To those who imagine that charity amounts to merely a drop in the bucket, he offers this perspective: The Gates Foundation alone — which is but a small sliver of US philanthropy — distributes more overseas assistance than the Italian government.

And just one of the Gates endeavors, an overseas vaccine program, will save the lives of 8 million children. Yet as impressive as that is, it is dwarfed by the aid sent to the needy overseas by members of US religious organizations, which devote four and a half times as much to the effort as the Gates Foundation does.

"Indeed, private US philanthropic aid of all sorts sent overseas now substantially exceeds the official foreign aid of the US government," Zinsmeister writes. Some drop. Some bucket.

Sometimes philanthropy is pooh-poohed because of its lack of uniformity and clear direction. But in the Almanac's language, "a riotous patchwork can be a thing of a great beauty." Consider Goodwill Industries, which provides workforce training to 26 million beneficiaries annually.

Goodwill's 3,000 stores take in more than $5 billion in revenue. And yet its operations are not standardized. Goodwill's 165 regional branches are autonomous in policy and funding, and each has its own board of directors. Habitat for Humanity and the Appalachian Mountain Club are other philanthropies that embrace a non-monolithic "patchwork" culture, and have achieved outstanding success.

There are those whose first instinct is to turn to government when a social ill appears. Of course there are some functions for which government is well-suited. But on the whole, private philanthropic problem-solving will always be more nimble, more innovative, more individualized, and more efficient than anything the government can do.

"In the United States I am even more struck by the innumerable multitude of little undertakings than by the extraordinary size of some of their ­industrial enterprises," marveled Alexis de Tocqueville upon traveling through America in the 1830s. He wrote of his "daily astonishment" at the "immense works" carried out by the abundance of voluntary associations Americans formed.

Nearly two centuries later, the vast diversity of private charity in this country is as astonishing and fruitful as ever. Lord knows we get plenty of things wrong in these United States, but our culture of philanthropy remains a wonder of the world.
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Generals fear a Benghazi 2 in Libya

Washington confirms it's working on 'decisive military action' against ISIS from F. Michael Maloof at WND


As Washington prepares to take “decisive military action” in Libya against the alarming growth of ISIS, retired generals have told G2 Bulletin they are concerned that the United States may go it alone, according to a new report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

They ask which allies, if any, will join a coalition and attempt to work with a Libyan government that barely exists.

At a news conference last week, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said the U.S. is “looking to take decisive military action” against ISIS in Libya and that a decision would be coming “in weeks” but “not hours.”

“It’s fair to say that we’re looking to take decisive military action against ISIS in conjunction with the political process” in Libya, Dunford said. “The president has made clear that we have the authority to use military force.”

ISIS is thought to have more than 3,000 fighters, with more flowing into Libya from Syria and Iraq, where the U.S., Russia and other countries have been carrying out intense airstrikes against the jihadist fighters.

Another ‘trillion-dollar failure’?

In October 2011, the U.S., France and Britain launched attacks that led to the overthrow of the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. Since then, the country has not had a functional government.

Warring factions of local jihadist groups are preoccupied fighting among themselves for dominance rather than taking on ISIS or coming together to form a government of national accord.

U.S. action in Libya, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney told G2Bulletin in an email, “is the last thing we need to do!”

“Why spend (a trillion dollars) for another COIN (counterinsurgency) failure?”

Retired U.S. Adm. James Lyons Jr., who served as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from 1985-1987, told G2Bulletin that McInerney’s concern about the possibility of unilateral U.S. action is “Spot on!”

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely expressed similar concerns to G2Bulletin, concluding Dunford’s comments represent a military invasion by the Obama administration.

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“I can’t even see Obama taking any offensive action anywhere like that,” Vallely said.

Vallely is chairman of the non-profit Stand Up America and the private Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, which is looking into the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi.

He said that if there is to be any such military action, it needs to include Egypt, which bombed ISIS locations in Libya after the February 2015 beheading of some 21 Libyan Coptic Christians who were working in the country.

Vallely also thought the Russians could join, especially if asked by Egypt, since Moscow has just concluded a $2 billion military arms deal with Cairo that includes helicopters, fighter jets, Kornet anti-tank weapons, the anti-ballistic missile system Antey-2500 and the Buk-2 surface-to-air missile system.
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Friday, January 29, 2016

Fed Freaked Out Over Financial Markets

Because it is completely misreading the situation from Lawrence (Larry) Kudlow at Kudlow and Company

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Early in the new year, on Sunday, January 3, Federal Reserve vice chair Stanley Fischer delivered a hawkish speech to the American Economic Association.

Completely misreading the economy, which is woefully weak while inflation is virtually nil, Fischer strongly hinted that the Fed would be raising its target rate by a quarter of a percent every quarter for the next three years.

The next day the S and P 500 dropped 1.5 percent. In the week that followed, the broad index fell 6 percent. The week after that it fell over 2 percent. During that two-week period, the Dow Jones dropped 1,437 points.

The dollar went up. Oil plunged 21 percent. Raw material commodities dropped. And credit risk spreads in the high-yield junk market rose substantially.

Actually, it was a global event, as stock markets around the world plunged. Utter chaos.

This past week, the Fed retreated in its FOMC policy statement. For the first time in a long while, it didn’t bother with a risk assessment between inflation and employment. The whole statement had a much softer tone. It reminded me of the prevent defense of the old Bill Parcells New York Giants.

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Putting it more starkly, I’d say the Fed is completely freaked out by financial markets that are turning against it.

The central bank says its policies are “data driven.” But the recent FOMC statement suggests the Fed is looking at everything. It has a hundred indicators -- domestic, international, jobs, and inflation. In truth, it doesn’t know what its next move is going to be because it can’t read the economy. Fed policy is opaque, confusing, and rudderless.

Take a look at the new GDP report for the fourth quarter of last year. A mere 0.7 percent growth. Across 2015, real GDP grew 1.8 percent. It’s not a recession. But any shock could push us into recession.

Business investment fell. Commercial building fell. Inventories fell. Inflation came in less than 1 percent.

Nominal GDP -- real output plus inflation -- registered a small 1.5 percent gain. In normal times, money GDP should be between 4 and 5 percent.

Perhaps most troublesome to the stock market and the economy is the decline in corporate profits. According to most estimates, profits are set to drop for the third straight quarter while business sales look to be falling for the fourth straight quarter. Add this to less than 1 percent economic growth, and the risk of recession is surely rising.

The recession threat is a risk, not a fact. But for Fed policy makers to tell us the economy is healthy is a complete misreading of the situation. And with ultra-weak economic growth and ultra-low inflation, how could the Fed, or any central bank, think about tightening policy?

Besides stocks, other market indicators are trying to tell the central bank: No More Rate Hikes. Copper is down 16 percent over the past year. Inflation expectations in the Treasury bond markets have fallen significantly. And the dollar over the past several years has increased roughly 30 percent.

A healthy King Dollar is a good thing, and so are falling energy prices. But enough is enough. More Fed rate hikes will raise the dollar and reduce energy prices so much that the economy will be completely disrupted. A stable, reliable greenback is a good thing. But let’s not press our luck.

Now, if the Fed were operating on a true price rule, it would keep the dollar where it is today for as far as the eye can see. In turn that would stabilize gold and other commodities and avoid further economic disruption.

In a speech back in 2014, former Fed head Paul Volcker argued for a rules-based monetary policy along with international currency cooperation. Right now we have neither. Europe and Japan have moved toward negative interest rates while the Fed threatens higher rates. Where is Volcker’s currency diplomacy? Nowhere to be seen.

Thankfully there’s a way out of this mess. Let the Fed keep interest rates and the dollar stable. No more tightening. Meanwhile, the Republican Congress can pass a significant tax cut for large and small businesses. Push the rate down to 15 percent for C-corps and S-corps. Provide easy repatriation of U.S. money overseas. And permit immediate tax write-offs for new-business-investment expenses.

Congress could also push for reduced regulatory burdens, although it looks like there’s no stopping the Obama administration’s unconstitutional march toward even greater regulations.

But a big business tax cut would be the most stimulative way to move the economy from near recession to 4 or 5 percent growth. That’s what we need. Put it together with a stable and reliable dollar, and we can move from pessimism to optimism.

It’s been done before. We can do it again.
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Run Bloomberg Run!

From the files of Jeff Crouere at Ringside Politics on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station in New Orleans

Meet Jeff Crouere
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now threatening to enter the presidential race and spend $1 billion of his vast fortune. Bloomberg spent 12 years as Mayor and obviously misses the media limelight.

Although he is two weeks’ shy of his 74th birthday, Bloomberg is obviously not interested in retirement. He was originally registered as a Democrat, then became a “liberal Republican,” before settling in as a so-called Independent.

He is under the delusion that he can appeal to centrist voters disgusted with the two party system. In reality, Bloomberg is a hard core leftist who would severely damage the prospects of the Democratic presidential candidate and hand the White House to the GOP nominee.

In New York, Bloomberg was known as the “Nanny Mayor” because he tried to ban an array of food and drink items for health reasons. He famously declared war on “Big Gulp” soft drinks and tried to ban them from convenience stores, Thankfully, this bizarre episode in limiting personal freedom was overruled in court.

Bloomberg was also unsuccessful in trying to set a limit for sodium levels in processed foods. However, he did succeed in outlawing trans fats from restaurants and Styrofoam packaging in single serve food containers.

Mayor Bloomberg was not only interested in controlling what people would eat or drink, he was also a proponent of aggressively banning smoking. Thus, he pushed through new city laws forbidding smoking from not only bars and restaurants, but also public places in New York City.

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On the social issues, Bloomberg is completely in line with liberal Democrats on everything. He supports abortion, gay marriage and Common Core educational standards, while he is opposed to the death penalty.

On economic issues, Bloomberg is supposedly a fiscal conservative, but, in reality, he advocates higher taxes. In fact, as Mayor, Bloomberg balanced the budget with $6 billion in higher property taxes.

Even though it angered family members of 9/11 victims, Bloomberg famously supported the building of a mosque on property next to Ground Zero in New York. In an emotional speech backing the mosque, Bloomberg said, “if we don’t build it, the terrorists will win.” Thankfully, the mosque was never built as the developer eventually decided to build a condominium tower.

Bloomberg’s support of the mosque was never popular in New York, but it was consistent with his overall view regarding the threat of radical Muslim. In fact, he is not concerned about the threat of Muslim immigration and believes in open borders and unchecked illegal immigration into this country.

Sadly, he shares President Obama’s obsession with global warming and believes in reducing carbon output.

Bloomberg is also well known for his staunch support of gun control measures such as expanded background checks and barring the sale of certain types of weaponry such as assault rifles. He once said, “I don’t know why people carry guns. Guns kill people.”

On trade, Bloomberg is an internationalist and supports “free trade” and the passage Trans Pacific Partnership.

Finally, Bloomberg is no fan of term limits as he extended his mayoral tenure to three terms in New York City.

In summation, on almost every issue, Bloomberg is a liberal Democrat masquerading as an Independent. As a presidential candidate representing one of the most liberal states in the nation, Bloomberg would definitely siphon votes from the nominee of the Democratic Party. Clearly, on most of the vital issues, Bloomberg agrees with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

While he is in perfect symmetry with the Democrats on the issues, Bloomberg completely opposes the vast majority of the Republican Party’s platform. In a presidential race, almost no conservative voters would be lured into supporting Bloomberg.

At this juncture in our nation’s history, after eight disastrous years of Barack Obama as President, it is essential that neither a liberal nor a socialist be elected the next President of the United States.

With $1 billion campaign war chest and an almost 100% liberal platform, Bloomberg would practically guarantee the defeat of the Democratic presidential nominee.

For that important reason, Mayor Bloomberg please run for President. The country needs you in the race!
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Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 10:00 p.m. Sunday on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. 

For more information, visit Jeff's web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com or email him at jeff@ringsidepolitics.com.
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And the Winner is?

From the art studios of Dan Youra at Utoons.com

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LIKE and JOIN more than 80 Donald Trump sites such as Democrats for Trump, Independents for Trump, Catholics for Trump, Hispanics for Trump, Students for Trump, Blacks for Trump, Jews for Trump, Christians for Trump - all at IamTrump.org

Dan Youra is one of the outstanding conservative cartoonists in the trade today who follows in the footsteps of the great political cartoon masters, whose quotes inspire a new generation of followers.
"Outside of basic intelligence, there is nothing more important to a good political cartoonist than ill will." ~ Jules Feiffer, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist.
"Too many of today's artists regard editorial cartooning as a trade instead of a profession. They try not to be too offensive. The hell with that. We need more stirrer-uppers." ~ Bill Mauldin.
Youra was one of the first recipients of a Fulbright Scholarship and worked in Latin America. He served as an editor of Current Thought on Peace and War at the United Nations in New York.

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"As long as there are politicians who continue to try and fool the voters, there is no chance of ever running out of material to work with because they create it themselves and about themselves," says Dan Youra.
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Dan is the small business owner and operator of the Youra Studios located in the State of Washington.

Visit the Youra Studios at Utoons.com

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The Left's divide and conquer strategy

Conservatism 301 from Dan Bongino at The Conservative Review

Click Here to Be Directed to the Conservative Review

Liberal politicians have always had a tough time selling their agenda. Lecturing Americans about how foolish they are to want to control their own economic futures, how foolish they are to dare to want to control their own healthcare decisions and how foolish they are to want to choose where to send their children to school has always been a tough sell.

It's so hard that liberal politicians spend small fortunes on political consultants who teach them various political strategies and tactics to win elections by never telling people their true positions.
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The campaign of Bernie Sanders is a near perfect example of this. Sanders has promised his supporters a truckload of "free" government programs and initially expressed support for tax rates as high as 90% to pay for his proposals.

That support evaporated almost immediately when his endorsement of such an outrageous expansion of government became public. Clearly some high-priced political consultant got to Sanders and told him that he needs to learn to lie better.

I can imagine the conversation going something like this:

"Hey Bernie, we really need to stop the talk about that 90% tax thing, we can't really tell people that the 'free' stuff we're planning to give them is paid for out of their wallets."

To read more, click here
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Dan Bongino is the bestselling author of the book Life Inside the Bubble and now The Fight. He is a Contributing Editor at Conservative Review and was the 2012 and 2014 Republican nominee for the United States Senate and 6th congressional district in Maryland. Dan served for over a decade as a special agent in the United States Secret Service, and currently owns a security consulting business. 

You can follow Dan Bongino on his website, at Facebook or on Twitter.


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Dream question asked and not answered

From the files of Jeff Jacoby at The Boston Globe

[This comment was written immediately following the seventh televised Republican presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday night.]

From left, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush during Thursday 
night's Republican debate in Des Moines.

It took seven attempts, but the organizers finally worked out the formula for a healthy Republican presidential debate: seven candidates, three moderators and zero vulgar reality-show clowns.

The wittiest and truest line of the night was Senator Ted Cruz's opening crack: "Let me say I'm a maniac, and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly.

And Ben, you're a terrible surgeon. Now that we've gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way. . ." He was right. Trump's absence cost the debate nothing in substance, and the lack of crude insults was a welcome change of pace.

Alas, what remained was still a stage full of politicians. Well, six politicians, plus one daydreaming neurosurgeon. Ben Carson actually seemed startled when questions were posed to him, and he was all but invisible for most of the evening.

"You're not going to hear a lot of polished political speech from me," he said early on. In fact, we didn't hear much of anything from him.

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I have often said that just once I would like to hear a debate moderator ask presidential candidates not what they want the government to do, but what they believe the government has no business doing.

I got my wish when Bret Baier challenged Governor Chris Christie to "name even one thing that the federal government does now that it should not do at all."

For a split-second I fantasized that Christie, or another candidate, would rattle off some of the countless things the federal government shouldn't do:

  • Legislate minimum wages. 
  • Mandate grade-school curricula. 
  • Ban incandescent light bulbs. 
  • Subsidize dairy farmers.
  • Be in charge of airport security. 
  • Decide who qualifies for a mortgage. 
  • Force Americans to buy insurance policies.

Christie's answer? He would defund Planned Parenthood. That's all he came up with.

All those Republicans, and barely a drop of righteous indignation at the massive intrusion of Big Brother into virtually every aspect of modern American life.

And these guys call themselves conservatives? Oh, it's to weep.
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ronald Reagan skipped the last Iowa debate


It will be the first time in recent history that a top candidate, let alone the front-runner, will skip such a high-profile event so close to Election Day.

But, if anyone can pull off such a stunt and still come out on top, it's probably Trump. He's been breaking all the usual political rules this cycle.

"It's totally unprecedented. Candidates die to be on the stage," said Iowa State University political science professor Steffen Schmidt. "The ones that are at the loser table are dying to be on the main debate. For a candidate to walk away from that is crazy — but crazy like a fox."

And he just might be. Trump will hold a "Special Event to Benefit Veterans Organizations" at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, at the same time, daring viewers to watch on competing networks against the Fox News debate.

Late Wednesday night, the flamboyant reality TV star, and billionaire real-estate mogul, showed no signs of backing down. Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, reiterated that the network hadn't treated Trump fairly, and the campaign would be having its own counterprogramming.

It's a maneuver that probably only works for someone like Trump — who can command media attention at will and stir reporters into a frenzy with a single tweet. And it's one that would only work in a 24-hour news cycle, social media saturated environment. The perfect storm.

The last time a candidate tried to skip the final debate in Iowa, it didn't work out so well, at least in the short run.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan was the national front-runner and thought skipping the Des Moines Register debate — the first televised GOP presidential debate ever — wouldn't hurt him. But George H.W. Bush had a standout performance; Reagan took heat in the state for his absence, and it was Bush who went on to narrowly win Iowa.

Even Reagan's former staff members admit that was a mistake, giving Bush new momentum.

"We blew Iowa, and I take responsibility for that, because I should have insisted on having him in there more," said Charlie Black, a veteran GOP campaign operative who was Reagan's Midwest political director.

It was a mistake Reagan wouldn't make again. And later in New Hampshire, it was Reagan who insisted on having more candidates included in the Nashua Telegraph debate so he wouldn't be facing Bush solo — so much that he eventually funded the debate himself, leading to his memorable, "I paid for this microphone" moment. Reagan won the Granite State, and, of course, the nomination and presidency.

Reagan's initial skip was more a political calculation — and one he likely wouldn't have made in the current media environment. Trump's move is different.

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"I guess he feels he's still going to be the center of attention, but actually this reinforces some of the worst parts of his character," said Black, who was also a senior adviser for John McCain's presidential bids. "A lot of people like him, but the people who don't think he's arrogant. It's all about him, and he'd rather fight than participate."

McCain also seriously threatened to skip one of the presidential debates after the 2008 economic collapse. But that also reinforced a narrative about McCain that Barack Obama's campaign was willing to push — that he couldn't handle doing more than one thing at a time, a not-so-subtle dig at McCain's age.

Televised presidential debates didn't begin until 1960 — where the infamous face-off between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon reinforced stereotypes that would define the race. The young, telegenic Kennedy shone on TV compared to a harried, sweating and older Nixon. Kennedy would win the general.

Four years later, though, President Lyndon B. Johnson, who took office after Kennedy was assassinated, was leading in the polls and feared a debate could actually damage him, so he refused to debate Republican nominee Barry Goldwater.

In 1968, Democrat Hubert Humphrey wanted to debate Nixon, but still smarting from his poor performance against Kennedy, the GOP nominee refused. In his 1972 re-election race, Nixon again wouldn't debate Democrat George McGovern.

In 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter and GOP President Gerald Ford would finally meet on the televised debate stage. And, for the most part, they've been a political mainstay each four years. In 1980, Carter wouldn't debate Reagan initially, because independent John Anderson was allowed in. But later, only the two major party candidates would meet.

In both parties' primary debates, sometimes candidates have skipped in the past — or weren't invited, as was the case with some GOP hopefuls this year with such a large field.

In 2011, with GOP primary debates beginning earlier than ever, eventual nominee Mitt Romney skipped the cycle's first debate in South Carolina, but he hadn't officially announced for president yet.

Coming less than a week before Iowa though, Trump's boycott is different, and could also be perceived differently by voters.

"People who are supporting him already, they're not going to move that much. But if you have an individual who may be on the edge of going with him, they might be turned off in a certain extent," predicted University of Arkansas professor Patrick Stewart, who has been studying this cycle's GOP presidential debates.

The decision gives his rivals free shots to attack the absent Trump — depriving him of a chance to defend himself on stage.

"For someone who relies on a very forceful argument, this could be problematic, especially because of the fact he looks like he's running away from the debate," Stewart said. "It opens up the opportunity for other candidates to take potshots at him, and he can't respond. One of his greatest strengths has been his ability to respond quickly."

But Schmidt, the Iowa political science professor, said it won't change much on the ground — because Trump has been rewriting the rules all along.

"Trump combines two things — feeding to people's anger and anxiety, and he also feeds to people's desire for entertainment," Schmidt said. "It's bread and circuses."

Fair Use from NPR

Voters torn between two candidates

From the files of A.F. (Tony) Branco at Comically Incorrect.com

Grab Your Morning Coffee and Tune In to Branco Online

Okay, I’m hyperventilating. Tony combines beautiful drawings with biting politically incorrect wit and laugh out loud humor.” – Larry Elder – TV and Radio personality at at Fox News and KRLM AM 870

Lighten things up! Political discussions and debates don’t always have to be deep and long-winded arguments with points and counter points. Sometimes we just need to take a step back from it all and have a good laugh. With so many discouraging things happening in our country lately, that’s the only thing we can do to keep from crying.

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Conservative artist Antonio Branco is a master at encapsulating deep and complex issues in a simple comic.

He has written his first book in a series and takes on a wide array of issues, from food stamps to global warming to foreign policy, Antonio isn’t afraid to say what he thinks.

Presented in a coffee table book style, this is the perfect conversation starter with friends and family that pick it up and start glancing through it’s pages.

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Who knows, that liberal aunt of yours just might come over to the right side because of this book!

This 80 pages, hardcover comic measures 8″ x 10".


Read more from A.F. (Tony) Branco at this link.
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FoxNews tried to scam Trump

Trump campaign manager reveals that the FoxNews debate chief has a daughter working for Rubio at Breitbart

Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager for 2016 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, exposed a blatant conflict of interest on Wednesday that the Fox News Channel has been hiding for months.

Lewandowski showed how Fox News has been hiding the fact that Fox News Channel Vice President Bill Sammon has a daughter working for the campaign of the Washington establishment-backed Sen. Marco Rubio. Sammon’s daughter, Brooke Sammon, is Rubio’s national press secretary, and obviously both have a vested interest in the success of the Rubio campaign and the demise of the other campaigns.

CNN’s Erin Burnett asked Lewandowski about Fox News’s controversial anti-Trump statement from Tuesday evening—and specifically the network’s claim that the top Trump aide had allegedly made threats against Fox News anchor and Thursday debate co-moderator Megyn Kelly—when he responded by dropping the explosive revelation.

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Lewandowski revealed two things for the first time: that the executive he was discussing matters with was Bill Sammon, and that Sammon’s daughter Brooke Sammon works for Rubio’s campaign, giving the first-term Floridian Senator an obvious boost. That blatant conflict of interest has never before been disclosed to the viewers of Fox News by the network.

“Not only did I not make threats, but the conversation with the Fox News executive—his daughter works for the Rubio campaign, he’s one of the executives on Fox that writes the debate questions so maybe he has his own ulterior motives, I’m not sure,” Lewandowski told Burnett in the Wednesday evening CNN interview. He went on:

But his daughter is a senior executive on the Rubio campaign, maybe he should disclose that before he’s writing the debate questions for Fox. There were no threats made. The bottom line is this isn’t about me and it’s not about Megyn Kelly. It’s about the way that Fox News put out a statement about Mr. Trump that’s wholly inaccurate and unfair and it’s very difficult to treat someone fairly when they’re the GOP frontrunner when you put out a statement like that.

When Burnett followed up, Lewandowski doubled down. “What I said was the Fox News executive who oversees the debate process, their daughter is a senior executive on the Marco Rubio campaign—is what I said,” the Trump campaign manager said.

A Fox News spokesperson has not responded to Breitbart News’s requests for comment throughout the day on Wednesday. A Rubio spokesman, communications director Alex Conant, responded to a Breitbart News inquiry on this matter by standing up for Brooke Sammon and questioning Breitbart News’s integrity.

“It’s no secret Breitbart traffics in conspiracy theories, but this accusation is a whole new level of crazy,” Conant said in an email. “Brooke is a star of our campaign and her integrity and professionalism is second to none. If you’re worried about someone’s integrity, you should do some serious self examination.”

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Conant has not answered a pair of follow-up questions. One question Conant won’t answer centers specifically on whether Brooke Sammon has ever in any way communicated with her father about the Rubio campaign–including regarding debate matters. The other question Conant won’t answer is why, if “Breitbart traffics in conspiracy theories,” Sen. Rubio’s campaign provides Breitbart News with exclusives like the one earlier on Wednesday about his new ad targeting Evangelical voters.

“I believe you can’t have a strong America without strong families. I believe in the fundamental freedoms that make us great. And I believe in God; that God has blessed America,” Sen. Rubio says in a new advertisement he provided exclusively to Breitbart News, for instance. Conant and his team provided Breitbart News with that exclusive mere hours before changing their tune on Breitbart News.

Bill Sammon is a Fox News Channel Vice President and the bureau chief of that network’s Washington, D.C. team. Several times leading up to the previous Megyn Kelly-co-moderated debate back in August 2015, it was confirmed that Sammon was personally involved in crafting the entire focus of the debate.

For instance, on Howard Kurtz’s Aug. 2 Media Buzz show on the Fox News Channel, Kurtz and Fox’s Chris Stirewalt confirmed that Sammon is the “secret weapon” crafting the questions.

“You’ve been to this rodeo before,” Kurtz asked Stirewalt. “How do you and Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier and Chris Wallace go about formulating your questions, knowing the candidates are going to try to pivot to their talking points?”

“Well, the first thing is we have a secret weapon and that is Bill Sammon, who is the best at not only team cohesion and keeping everybody on point about what the point is, but in crafting the questions,” Stirewalt replied before Kurtz interjected that Sammon is the Fox News Channel’s “Washington bureau chief.”

“Absolutely, he’s a managing editor and a great mind and a great journalist and so that is a big help,” Stirewalt finished.

In addition, a Washington Post pre-debate profile of Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace—one of the other debate moderators alongside Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier—confirmed Sammon’s involvement in crafting the narrative of the debate. Of course, that profile quotes Wallace as saying he has several “doozies” prepared for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

“On a recent Thursday morning, Wallace walked the few steps from his small, memorabilia-filled office — his father’s Rolodex, a photo of him playing hoops with Michael Jordan — to the more spacious suite of his boss, Bill Sammon, the vice president of news, who had called together a small debate-prep meeting,” the Post’s Krissah Thompson wrote.

Thompson then detailed what the debate-prep room was like one day when Wallace and Sammon prepared for battle, quoting the two of them extensively—and making clear that Sammon was in charge.

What’s interesting, however, is that these people, who claim to be journalists—Wallace, Baier, Kelly, Stirewalt, Kurtz, and pretty much everyone else at the Fox News Channel, especially Sammon—all committed what is pretty much a cardinal sin in journalism: They didn’t disclose a major conflict of interest ahead of a presidential debate. That conflict, of course, is that Brooke Sammon—Rubio’s national press secretary—is the daughter of Fox News executive Bill Sammon.

Brooke Sammon is no small player in Rubio’s orbit, either. She’s second in command to Rubio communications chief Alex Conant, and has worked for the senator for years.

The network did not disclose this conflict of interest to anyone–most importantly, the 24 million people who watched that first debate this summer. It’s unclear why the network has hidden this detail. Other GOP presidential campaigns have been whispering about pro-Rubio bias at Fox, but none have been willing to publicly hammer the network, except for Trump.

Lewandowski has gotten close to exposing this conflict of interest before—making an allusion to it on Good Morning America on Wednesday morning—but not until his CNN appearance was he so explicit.

“It’s a shame, when you have a conversation with some of the Fox executives, you’d hope they’d keep that conversation private,” Lewandowski said on GMA. “Instead you have executives over there who have relatives working for other campaigns. These are the people who are putting debate questions together.”
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Will GOP kill Trump with kindness?

From the files of Michadl Shannon at Newsmax.com and The Whole Shebang (mostly)

In 1998 I worked in a long–forgotten Venezuelan presidential race that has an important lesson for Donald Trump. The contest featured a celebrity outsider with perfect hair running against corrupt political insiders.

(Is that redundant?) In Venezuela the insiders weren’t long–serving officials or hangers–on who became ethically bankrupt. The members of COPEI were criminally corrupt and many officials were jailed.

Irene Sáez, a former Miss Venezuela and Miss World, was the celebrity outsider. Sáez formed her own party called Integrated Representation of New Hope, which sounds clunky in English, but very Trumpy in Spanish since the initials formed the acronym IRENE.

Her unofficial campaign song was “Barbie Girl,” which pretty much topped off the package.

The combination of celebrity, outsider and iconoclasm catapulted Irene into what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. In the last poll of 1997, a year before the election, her support was 70 percent with none of Trump’s “built in” negatives.

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Irene’s peroxide blonde hair received as much vilification as Trump’s does now. (History note, Trump’s coiffure is not original: During the Civil War generals with like hairdos were said to “have their rear guard doing the work of skirmishers.”)

Even though Sáez was mayor of a toney suburb of Caracas, pontificators viewed her as a lightweight who would soon discover running Venezuela is much different from sashaying down the runway at the Miss World pageant.

Her supporters were denigrated much the same way Trump’s are: Undereducated, unwashed masses lured by the siren song of celebrity. The only thing they weren’t accused of being was white, since after all it was Venezuela.

The expert’s mistake was overlooking the three steps to voter persuasion.

Celebrity only gives candidates a head start on step one: I.D. Voters know who they are and know they are running. The second step — Identity —makes them winners. Sáez’ identity was that of an outsider, as is Trump’s.

Once disenfranchised, denigrated voters find someone who reciprocates their outrage, they’re happy to take the third step: Investment. Meaning the candidate has their vote.

When the Sáez’ bubble didn’t burst there was panic at the possibility of a gravy train derailment. Just as is happening here now, both establishments scrambled to find a way to ooze into the outsider’s orbit.

Trump looks out his limo window and sees Sen. Chuck Grassley tapping on the glass trying to hitch a ride on the bandwagon. For Sáez it was the loathsome COPEI dumping it’s preferred miscreant and instead endorsing her candidacy.

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Sáez response should have been an immediate and noisy rejection. Instead she made a disastrous mistake and accepted the mantle, which proved to be just a loan. Sáez support imploded as voters saw their outsider surrounded by the same old insiders.

She finished with 3 percent of the vote and had the additional indignity of seeing COPEI jilt her just before the election and support a third candidate.

Here the GOP establishment is cozying up to Trump because Ted Cruz is unthinkable as an alternative because he’s a genuine Constitutional conservative. As one GOP reptile told the New York Times: “We can live with Trump…there’s a feeling that he is not going to layer over the party or install his own person. Whereas Cruz will have his own people there.”

A disaster since influence peddlers and time–serving incumbents won’t continue to dip into the taxpayer trough under a Cruz administration.

Trump’s crucial test is the one Sáez failed. As far as the insider–loathing voter is concerned there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham.

Yet Trump may not recognize that. After the Grassley wedged his way into the limo Trump told a rally, “You know what? There’s a point at which: Let’s get to be a little establishment. We’ve got to get things done folks, OK? Believe me, don’t worry. We’re going to make such great deals.”

That’s exactly the wrong response. Trump should have told Grassley and the insiders to join the illegals at the back of the line. If Donald doesn’t believe me he should check with Sáez. It won’t even be an international call.

She lives quietly in Florida now.
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Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience.

He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor and available on Amazon.com)." Click here Read more of Michael Shannon's reports
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The Oath Keeper

From The Liberty Beacon Contributor, Ken LaRive


There was a time when a handshake meant something. Before our laws became loop-holes, and irresponsibility and treachery was taught as normal.

A time when a simple signature in India ink, a melted wax droplet on a document stamped with a family crest, or an oath of alliance yelled moments before a battle, brought unbounded strength of purpose, and the courage for true conviction.

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When a man finally came to a righteous conclusion, by his own volition, that honor was more important than one’s own life, from that moment on he was called an oath keeper.

Boy Scouts of America

The finer parts of America were built on oaths, from the promise of a Police Officer who swore to protect and serve, to a military man on the front lines of liberty. But the foundation of an oath extends to every man, woman and child here in America.

It can be found in an educator who tries so hard to teach students self-worth in a government-run co-op designed system that inspires the opposite, or a foreman standing in consternation as he helps build another skyscraper from the residue of 9-11.

That same resolute can be traced all the way back to our framers who risked everything, their lives and fortunes, to sign the Declaration of Independence. And then, with trembling hands, gave us our Constitution and Bill of Rights with prayers that we could keep it, we the people, their children.

Early on Saturday mornings, on a crystalline carpet of dew, glinted under the breath of a chilled mist, single shots would wake New Orleans from under the spreading arms of our dueling oaks, where honor was defended, and oaths tested.

You see, men of substance do not spring out of the ground whole, they are self made. A man of virtue and honor can manifest from any color, religion, or creed, with a virtuous and honorable oath. A flawed oath, however, will not be followed long, as it is against the very nature of men.

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Men know that for an oath to become a viable part of the heart and mind, it has to have one primary element, truth. Men everywhere, from desert to forest, from the halls of decree to the bowels of the bane, know truth when they hear it. It is universal, a universal truth that cannot be denied.

The following is the Boy Scout oath, and it projects forward the man he has the potential to become. Take the time and look into the faces of boys reciting this simple and yet profound oath, and you will get a rush of hope that will bring on tears.

Our Country, our precious constitution, our hard-won liberty, is being shredded, and in their trusting and shining faces, the faces of our children, you will find the solace and true hope you so longed for, as parents, as teachers, as Americans.

Stand fast with the knowledge that truth is the primary element that can heal us, unite us, as one nation under God. Only through truth can honor be restored, and so too, a worthy oath.

Read More at TLB
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Daughter of Fox executive works for Rubio

Trump campaign manager reveals that the FoxNews debate chief has a daughter working for Rubio at Breitbart

Donald Trump and his Grand Daughter
Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager for 2016 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, exposed a blatant conflict of interest on Wednesday that the Fox News Channel has been hiding for months.

Lewandowski showed how Fox News has been hiding the fact that Fox News Channel Vice President Bill Sammon has a daughter working for the campaign of the Washington establishment-backed Sen. Marco Rubio. Sammon’s daughter, Brooke Sammon, is Rubio’s national press secretary, and obviously both have a vested interest in the success of the Rubio campaign and the demise of the other campaigns.

CNN’s Erin Burnett asked Lewandowski about Fox News’s controversial anti-Trump statement from Tuesday evening—and specifically the network’s claim that the top Trump aide had allegedly made threats against Fox News anchor and Thursday debate co-moderator Megyn Kelly—when he responded by dropping the explosive revelation.

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Lewandowski revealed two things for the first time: that the executive he was discussing matters with was Bill Sammon, and that Sammon’s daughter Brooke Sammon works for Rubio’s campaign, giving the first-term Floridian Senator an obvious boost. That blatant conflict of interest has never before been disclosed to the viewers of Fox News by the network.

“Not only did I not make threats, but the conversation with the Fox News executive—his daughter works for the Rubio campaign, he’s one of the executives on Fox that writes the debate questions so maybe he has his own ulterior motives, I’m not sure,” Lewandowski told Burnett in the Wednesday evening CNN interview. He went on:

But his daughter is a senior executive on the Rubio campaign, maybe he should disclose that before he’s writing the debate questions for Fox. There were no threats made. The bottom line is this isn’t about me and it’s not about Megyn Kelly. It’s about the way that Fox News put out a statement about Mr. Trump that’s wholly inaccurate and unfair and it’s very difficult to treat someone fairly when they’re the GOP frontrunner when you put out a statement like that.

When Burnett followed up, Lewandowski doubled down. “What I said was the Fox News executive who oversees the debate process, their daughter is a senior executive on the Marco Rubio campaign—is what I said,” the Trump campaign manager said.

A Fox News spokesperson has not responded to Breitbart News’s requests for comment throughout the day on Wednesday. A Rubio spokesman, communications director Alex Conant, responded to a Breitbart News inquiry on this matter by standing up for Brooke Sammon and questioning Breitbart News’s integrity.

“It’s no secret Breitbart traffics in conspiracy theories, but this accusation is a whole new level of crazy,” Conant said in an email. “Brooke is a star of our campaign and her integrity and professionalism is second to none. If you’re worried about someone’s integrity, you should do some serious self examination.”

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Conant has not answered a pair of follow-up questions. One question Conant won’t answer centers specifically on whether Brooke Sammon has ever in any way communicated with her father about the Rubio campaign–including regarding debate matters. The other question Conant won’t answer is why, if “Breitbart traffics in conspiracy theories,” Sen. Rubio’s campaign provides Breitbart News with exclusives like the one earlier on Wednesday about his new ad targeting Evangelical voters.

“I believe you can’t have a strong America without strong families. I believe in the fundamental freedoms that make us great. And I believe in God; that God has blessed America,” Sen. Rubio says in a new advertisement he provided exclusively to Breitbart News, for instance. Conant and his team provided Breitbart News with that exclusive mere hours before changing their tune on Breitbart News.

Bill Sammon is a Fox News Channel Vice President and the bureau chief of that network’s Washington, D.C. team. Several times leading up to the previous Megyn Kelly-co-moderated debate back in August 2015, it was confirmed that Sammon was personally involved in crafting the entire focus of the debate.

For instance, on Howard Kurtz’s Aug. 2 Media Buzz show on the Fox News Channel, Kurtz and Fox’s Chris Stirewalt confirmed that Sammon is the “secret weapon” crafting the questions.

“You’ve been to this rodeo before,” Kurtz asked Stirewalt. “How do you and Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier and Chris Wallace go about formulating your questions, knowing the candidates are going to try to pivot to their talking points?”

“Well, the first thing is we have a secret weapon and that is Bill Sammon, who is the best at not only team cohesion and keeping everybody on point about what the point is, but in crafting the questions,” Stirewalt replied before Kurtz interjected that Sammon is the Fox News Channel’s “Washington bureau chief.”

“Absolutely, he’s a managing editor and a great mind and a great journalist and so that is a big help,” Stirewalt finished.

In addition, a Washington Post pre-debate profile of Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace—one of the other debate moderators alongside Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier—confirmed Sammon’s involvement in crafting the narrative of the debate. Of course, that profile quotes Wallace as saying he has several “doozies” prepared for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

“On a recent Thursday morning, Wallace walked the few steps from his small, memorabilia-filled office — his father’s Rolodex, a photo of him playing hoops with Michael Jordan — to the more spacious suite of his boss, Bill Sammon, the vice president of news, who had called together a small debate-prep meeting,” the Post’s Krissah Thompson wrote.

Thompson then detailed what the debate-prep room was like one day when Wallace and Sammon prepared for battle, quoting the two of them extensively—and making clear that Sammon was in charge.

What’s interesting, however, is that these people, who claim to be journalists—Wallace, Baier, Kelly, Stirewalt, Kurtz, and pretty much everyone else at the Fox News Channel, especially Sammon—all committed what is pretty much a cardinal sin in journalism: They didn’t disclose a major conflict of interest ahead of a presidential debate. That conflict, of course, is that Brooke Sammon—Rubio’s national press secretary—is the daughter of Fox News executive Bill Sammon.

Brooke Sammon is no small player in Rubio’s orbit, either. She’s second in command to Rubio communications chief Alex Conant, and has worked for the senator for years.

The network did not disclose this conflict of interest to anyone–most importantly, the 24 million people who watched that first debate this summer. It’s unclear why the network has hidden this detail. Other GOP presidential campaigns have been whispering about pro-Rubio bias at Fox, but none have been willing to publicly hammer the network, except for Trump.

Lewandowski has gotten close to exposing this conflict of interest before—making an allusion to it on Good Morning America on Wednesday morning—but not until his CNN appearance was he so explicit.

“It’s a shame, when you have a conversation with some of the Fox executives, you’d hope they’d keep that conversation private,” Lewandowski said on GMA. “Instead you have executives over there who have relatives working for other campaigns. These are the people who are putting debate questions together.”
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