Recently Mortimer Caplin announced his retirement at the age of 96. Caplin may have been the only IRS chief to appear on the cover of Time Magazine back when he was targeting JFK’s political enemies with audits as part of Kennedy’s “Ideological Organizations Project.” “I remember that the president made a speech and I got a call from the White House again,” Caplin would later write. “The right-wing organizations were believed to be overstepping their tax-exemption bounds.” There are always plenty of Caplins and Lois Lerners around to do the dirty work of the men on top, but what truly matters is
The bitter GOP defeat of 2012, when their opposition had never seemed more vulnerable, sparked a prolonged inquest on possible causes: media bias mutating into outright cheerleading, a flawed candidate, unpopular social issues, unfavorable demographics. Rather less was heard about the quality of Republican leadership. Let’s start with national chair Reince Priebus. All four campaign debates were moderated by partisan Democrats. One of them, Candy Crowley, knocked Romney off his balance with an ambush that stalled momentum he had developed in the first debate. Priebus stood passively by as the debates were rigged against his party’s candidates.
Twenty-seven Republican senators voted for Wednesday´s bill passed by the upper chamber to fund the U.S. government in a continuing resolution and extend the nation´s debt limit. Eighteen voted against the measure, and one was not present.
More than half of teenagers have been asked to take an explicit self-portrait on their mobiles, according to a survey which reveals the full extent of the ‘sexting’ menace in schools. The practice of swapping sexual images is now seen as ‘pretty normal’ by youngsters, with more than half saying they had received an intimate photo or video, and 40 per cent having taken one of themselves. Worryingly, many of the children polled by the charity ChildLine were happy to send revealing photos of themselves to strangers. (Snip) The survey of almost 500 children aged between 13 and 18 shows
A desperate father has been banned from seeing his young son for four years after he was found with an unloaded gun he legally owned in the back of his car among his possessions as he moved house. Brian Aitken was arrested in 2009 as he was moving back from Colorado to New Jersey to be near his child after a divorce. He was later convicted of possessing a gun and sentenced to seven years´ prison. (Snip) In his trial, Aitken explained he was in the process of moving from Colorado to New Jersey, which is an accepted exemption under
The National Park Service director told Congress on Wednesday that he had to shut down the open-air memorials on the Mall during the government shutdown because of terrorism, saying that closing them was the only way to protect them “in a post-9/11 world.” Director Jonathan B. Jarvis also said his agency had received intelligence showing an increased threat of danger since the shutdown began — though he would not tell two House committees what those warnings were. In a contentious hearing, Republicans accused Mr. Jarvis of making the shutdown as painful as possible for Americans. Democrats countered that the Republicans
Just minutes after the Senate voted to reopen the government and raise the nation’s debt ceiling, President Obama on Wednesday night said the heavy lifting is by no means over. “There’s a lot of work ahead of us, including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that’s been lost over the last few weeks. We can begin to do that by addressing the real issues they care about,” Mr. Obama said during remarks in the White House press briefing room. “With the shutdown behind us and budget committees forming, we now have the opportunity to focus
The deal reached by Congress on Wednesday to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling averts a financial catastrophe but leaves the weakened U.S. economy facing new threats. The agreement will send about 450,000 federal employees back to work and restart paychecks for the 1.3 million employees who stayed on the job during the shutdown. Getting those salaries back in circulation will help economic growth, particularly in the Washington area. More important, the threat of a default on the national debt has been avoided, along with the recession and financial crisis that may have accompanied a failure to
Start learning Mandarin, kids. “In fact, there are things that we know will help strengthen our economy that we could get done before this year is out,” said Obama from the White House briefing room. “We still need to pass a law to fix our broken immigration system. We still need to pass a farm bill. And with the shutdown behind us and budget committees forming, we now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair, and that helps hard working people all across this country. And we could get all these things
The government shutdown ended on a surreal and chilling note. Minutes before the House finished voting for the Senate compromise, a stenographer was pulled out of the chamber while yelling about conspiracies. A few people physically removed her from the chamber and took her to an adjacent elevator. She continued to yell. They were followed by a crowd of reporters and members of Congress, including Representatives Al Green (D., Texas) and Louie Gohmert (R., Texas). It took a few moments for the elevator doors to open, so the people who removed her from the chamber held her against the elevator
Newark — Newark Mayor Cory Booker is the next U.S. senator from New Jersey. The Associated Press has projected that Booker, a Democrat, will prevail over Republican Steve Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota. When the results are certified, Booker, 44, will become the first African-American ever elected to statewide office in New Jersey. Booker was heavily favored to win the race from the beginning, but Lonegan gained in the polls late in the race. As the polls tightened, Booker became more aggressive and started highlighted Lonegan’s stridently conservative remarks, hoping they’d alienate New Jersey’s traditionally Democratic voters.
On Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) ripped into the GOP establishment for cutting a deal on the government shutdown and debt ceiling, stating, “The Washington establishment has cut a deal.” He added, “The focus is and should be on the substance of providing real relief for the American people. This deal doesn’t do that, and that’s why I intend to vote no.” The question, of course, is whether Cruz’s strategy ever could have worked at all. The original strategy, to fund the government in whole except for Obamacare, then attempt to create public pressure to force a Democratic Senate and
Mitch McConnell is taking criticism for a provision in the Senate compromise bill that allocates almost $3 billion for a project the Minority Leader previously has backed for a dam and lock project on the Ohio River. The dam project reportedly would benefit Kentucky as well as Tennessee and Illinois. As Eliana Johnson reports, this provision has been characterized as the “Kentucky kickback.” Eliana also notes that there has been pushback against the criticism. For one thing, McConnell apparently did not request that funding for the dam be included in the legislation. Rather, the request came from Lamar Alexander of
Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency and the head of U.S. Cyber Command, will step down sometime in the spring, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman. The official said Alexander´s decision has "nothing to do" with the leaks by former government contractor Edward Snowden, which unveiled new details about federal surveillance programs and sparked a public backlash against the agency. Alexander, who took the helm of the NSA in 2005, is the longest serving director in agency history. Reuters reported Wednesday that Alexander will leave by March or April, and his top deputy, Chris Inglis, will retire
In a bookend of sorts to his 21-hour “filibuster” against the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke for just under 10 minutes Wednesday evening in opposition to an imminent Senate vote that would reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling to avoid default. Cruz denounced the Senate deal as “terrible,” saying it will do nothing to help the “millions of Americans who are hurting because of Obamacare.” Speaking for the “American people,” Cruz said the Senate deal “embodies everything that frustrates” them about the “Washington establishment.” The majority of the speech centered around Cruz’s opposition to the health
Lowcountry residents shopping for a new health insurance plan with coverage starting Jan. 1 may be forced to choose between their preferred insurance company and their preferred doctor or hospital. That’s because individual plans purchased through the new federal health insurance marketplace, and even some plans bought outside the marketplace, will have fewer in-network providers than many patients are accustomed to. [Snip] Here’s an example--neither Medical University Hospital nor Roper St. Francis Healthcare are included in the provider networks for new individual policies offered by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the largest private insurer in the state.
NEWARK — Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan are waiting to find out tonight which of them will become New Jersey´s newest U.S. senator. The Star-Ledger´s political team will provide updates from Booker and Lonegan´s election night headquarters below. 9:07 p.m. A CONSERVATIVE CROWD -The man in the tricorne hat is here. So is the teenager who has Lonegan T-shirts stored up from previous events, and the history teacher who leads his local tea party chapter. Wherever Steve Lonegan goes, a core group of staunch supporters follows. Some go way back, from Lonegan´s days as Bogota mayor. Some of them
The White House set low expectations for the Affordable Care Act´s October 1 debut, so anything remotely competent should have seemed like a success. But three weeks on, the catastrophe that is Healthcare.gov and the 36 insurance exchanges run by the federal government is an insult to the "glitches" President Obama said were inevitable. This isn´t some coding error, or even the Health and Human Service Department´s usual incompetence. The failures that have all but disabled ObamaCare are the result of deliberate political choices, which HHS and the White House are compounding with secrecy and stonewalling. *** The health industry and low-level Administration
When it came time to vote on a bill to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling, the top two Senate Republicans just couldn’t agree. Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) opposed the deal brokered by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) , who negotiated the pact with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Both Cornyn and McConnell are up for reelection in 2014 and McConnell has already drawn serious challengers from both the Democratic and Republican parties. Overall, 18 Republican senators opposed the final vote on approving the deal to end the crisis. All members of the Democratic caucus
What´s wrong with Brum? EVERYTHING, according to a damning new report by Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw who has described it as a "national disgrace" which compares unfavourably with Cuba and parts of Eastern Europe. I don´t dispute his analysis for one moment. But I certainly don´t share the Schadenfreude many will be experiencing on having their worst suspicions confirmed about arguably Britain´s most despised city, home--so opinion surveys keep telling us--of Britain´s least favourite accent. As someone who used to speak with that accent myself--Alvechurch C of E Primary--and whose grandfather and great-grandfather made their fortunes there, I see
One of the more compelling finds in the opinion-polling swamps is that most people would like to see the entire Congress replaced. A more modest proposal: Let´s replace all the Republicans in Congress with their children or grandchildren. Bring in the 15-year-olds. How could it get worse? From the House to the Senate, the Republicans look dazed and confused. Three weeks ago, Ted Cruz stood in the Senate chamber for nearly a day, looking like a hero. Today, with the GOP brand in a vertical dive, he looks like a Bozo balloon. What do children know that the Republicans in Congress don´t
The compromise deal to reopen the government and avert a default on the nation’s debt, set to be approved by both houses of Congress Wednesday evening, is not without pork. It includes nearly $2.8 billion for dam project previously backed by Senate miority leader Mitch McConnell and a $174,000 payment to Bonnie Eaglehart Lautenberg, the widow of late New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg. As Andrew notes below, the Senate Conservatives Fund is already deriding this provision as the “Kentucky Kickback.” Though McConnell is surely pleased that the money is flowing to the Olmsted dam, which is situated on the Ohio River,
Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday blasted the Republican Party as “irrelevant” and responsible for “creating one of the greatest political disasters” he’s ever seen. “I was trying to think earlier today, if ever in my life I could remember any major political party being so irrelevant,” the conservative radio host said on his show, according to a transcript. “I have never seen it. I have never seen a major political party simply occupy placeholders, as the Republican Party is doing.” Limbaugh slammed the Republican Party for consistently failing to offer any “serious opposition” to the Democratic Party or President Barack Obama. And now
The London think tank Chatham House has just recognised Hillary Clinton with its annual “Chatham House Prize,” in part for her “significant and impressive contribution to international diplomacy”. It’s just the latest in a series of accolades the former Secretary of State has received in the past nine months since she left office, according to The Washington Post. As The Post notes, the wave of awards has a great deal to do with her gilded status as the front runner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination for 2016: “The awards circuit has effectively become Clinton’s pre-campaign campaign, allowing her to
Chinese state media have been having their fun with America´s protracted attempts to stave off a crippling default - even though it will likely come back to haunt them. Cartoons depicting the U.S. as a beggar and on a life-support machine have been cropping up in publications this week as the Republicans and Democrats scrambled to agree an extension to the debt ceiling before tomorrow´s deadline. A Chinese minister has also accused the ´gentlemen´ on Capitol Hill of showing little concern that their ´monkey business´ had been damaging America´s reputation around the world. Mei Xinyu, who works in the Commerce Ministry and advises
The two countries were once at loggerheads over the use of nuclear warheads, but now the U.S. and Russia have joined forces to develop the technology together - and the partnership could one day lead to weapons being used to destroy asteroids hurtling towards earth. Last month an agreement between the two countries was signed outlining the use of technology to create ´international safeguards´ and offer ´defense from asteroids.´ The move signals a step closer towards the technology being used for such projects and builds on the work of various leading nuclear experts who have been actively developing the idea in recent