Former Canadian politician and First Nations band chief Elijah Harper passed away yesterday of heart failure. He was 64.
A Cree Indian, Harper was born on the Red Sucker Lake Reserve in Northern Manitoba. At the age of 29, Harper became the reserve’s chief.
In 1981, Harper became the first Aboriginal elected to the Manitoba legislature under the NDP banner. The NDP under Howard Pawley unseated the Tory government of Sterling Lyon in that election. Pawley elevated Harper to his cabinet after the NDP’s re-election in 1986. Harper left cabinet the following year following a DUI incident but was re-appointed before the end of 1987. The Tories regained power in Manitoba in 1988 relegating Harper to the opposition benches.
But it was as a member of the opposition where Harper would wield his power. That power would be shortlived but for two weeks in June 1990, Harper was the most powerful man in Canada as he singlehandedly blocked the implementation of the Meech Lake Accord.
Three years earlier, Tory Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the ten provincial Premiers drew up a constitutional reform package that would bring Quebec into Canada’s constitution which had been brought into being in 1982 without Quebec’s signature. These reforms were known as the Meech Lake Accord and were to be ratified by the Canada’s Parliament and the ten provincial legislatures. This had to be done by June 23, 1990.
Manitoba was the only province that had not ratified the Meech Lake Accord. Newfoundland had earlier approved the accord but then rescinded their approval. The Liberal government of Clyde Wells thought Meech gave Quebec special status at the expense of the other provinces.
As for Harper, his objection to Meech Lake was that it excluded Aboriginals from the constitutional process altogether. Armed with only a feather, Harper utilized a parliamentary procedural tactic and would not give his consent for the Manitoba legislature to debate the Meech Lake Accord. Debate in the legislature requires unaminous consent. June 23, 1990 came and went. Manitoba did not ratify Meech and Meech Lake was dead.
For his part, Mulroney pinned the blame of Meech’s defeat on Wells because he had promised to hold another vote in the Newfoundland House of Assembly but cancelled the vote at the last minute. It would not have mattered if Wells had held the vote, Meech was dead the moment Harper said no. However, it would not have been politically viable to expend his wrath on the soft spoken Harper.
In 1993, Harper moved from provincial to federal politics winning a seat in the House of Commons as a Liberal, defeating New Democrat Rod Murphy during Jean Chretien’s sweep to power. This alienated Harper’s one time allies in the NDP. Yet the Liberals didn’t embrace Harper either especially the Quebec caucus who reviled him. Harper was relegated to the backbenches and did not seek re-election in 1997. Although an admired figure in most of Canada, Harper would never regain the level of influence he had in those two weeks 23 years ago.
A made for TV film aired titled Elijah aired in Canada in 2007.
One almost despairs when reading people’s comments about the White House scandals. The obvious take-away is that the state is too powerful, and in particular the Office of the President. But that’s not what people are saying. Instead, they’re saying that the problem is that the president is too weak. He’s Chance the Gardener. He votes present. He lets subordinates run the show.
It’s what they used to say in Tsarist Russia. It’s true that the Governor is a crook. The tax collector is a rogue. The minister is evil. “If only the Tsar knew!”
We already knew the government’s excuse for the IRS scandal—that it was a couple of staffers gone rogue at the Cincinatti office—was absurd. Now one of the those Cincinatti employees, speaking anonymously to the Washington Post, has confirmed it:
“We’re not political,’’ said one determinations staffer in khakis as he left work late Tuesday afternoon. “We people on the local level are doing what we are supposed to do. . . . That’s why there are so many people here who are flustered. Everything comes from the top. We don’t have any authority to make those decisions without someone signing off on them. There has to be a directive.”
The staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said that the determinations unit is competent and without bias, and that it grouped together conservative applications “for consistency’s sake” — so one application did not sail through while a similar one was held up in review. This consistency is paramount in the review of all applications, according to Ronald Ran, an estate-tax lawyer who worked for 37 years in the IRS’s Cincinnati office.
“You’re not going to have a bunch of flaming liberals in the exempt-organizations department looking for conservative applications,” he says.
Pretend for a second that you’re an IRS career staffer, and also happen to be a raging socialist who despises the Tea Party. Are you really going to risk your well-being and start a sprawling, surreptitious operation to stall the applications of conservative non-profits? It’s a ludicrous notion, and one that seems impossible when you consider the IRS’s enormous command structure.
This goes higher. Let’s hope we learn how much higher in the weeks ahead.
In his opening statement before a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee today, former acting IRS director Steve Miller apologized for the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, saying: “Partisanship has no place in the IRS.”
After his opening statement, however, it became clear that Miller wasn’t really sorry. Repeatedly, he objected to committee members’ use of the word “targeting” to describe the actions of the IRS, calling it “pejorative.” He frequently defended his own actions, refusing to acknowledge that he did much of anything wrong and calling his agency’s actions “horrible customer service.”
Eventually, when pushed on the matter by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Miller said, “I never said I didn’t do anything wrong” and “I should be held accountable, whether I was personally involved or not.”
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) repeatedly asked Miller who was responsible for the targeting of these groups. Miller repeatedly avoided answering, instead focusing on his objection to the word “targeting.”
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) hammered Miller on his past testimony before the committee, saying Miller clearly misled the committee when he said that no targeting occurred when he already knew that it had. Miller vehemently denied misleading the committee, but kept saying variations on “Let’s step back” to avoid explaining how his statement was not misleading.
Miller continued defending the IRS throughout the hearing, saying it is not corrupt and angering Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). “The subtext of that is that you’re saying ‘We’re just incompetent,’” Roskam said.
Several Democrats on the committee, including Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), showed more outrage over their allegation of past targeting of liberal groups under the Bush administration than of the current scandal that the IRS has admitted.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), blamed the Citizens United ruling for the targeting of conservative groups, saying it opened the floodgates to these groups and led to the IRS looking at them. He also went on to defend the IRS in relation to its access of Obamacare data, saying that it would only have enough information to decide if a person can get a subsidy for his insurance premium.
“It is not a fascist takeover that is going on here,” McDermott said. “A couple of people making problems, that does not damage the organization in my view.”
McDermott’s statements about Obamacare all rely on the trustworthiness of the IRS, which is clearly in question right now. Just because the IRS isn’t supposed to do something doesn’t mean it won’t, as the targeting scandal has shown all too clearly.
UPDATE: Here’s the best video from the hearing today. First Rep. Mike Kelly blasting Miller and receiving cheers and applause, and then Rep. Paul Ryan doing what he does best.
Opponents of voter ID laws like to say that voter fraud doesn’t matter and never affects election results. But as we learned this week, voter fraud is the reason John Rizzo, a Missouri House representative, won in the state’s 19th House district
In the Democratic primary for the seat in 2010, Rizzo beat his opponent, Will Royster, by one vote. The district is heavily Democratic, so Rizzo was able to easily win the general election.
This all sounds fine until you look ahead to this week when John C. Moretina pleaded guilty to voting in the district, even though he did not live there. Moretina never said which candidate he voted for, but he is Rizzo’s uncle, so it isn’t too difficult to connect the dots there.
If Moretina hadn’t voted illegally, the race would have been a tie. If allegations that Moretina’s wife also voted illegally prove to be true, it will be safe to say that Royster lost his chance to be a state representative through voter fraud.
As the Kansas City Star is reporting, this local story could have important national ramifications:
The case revived bitter accusations of fraud in a local political primary, but it could have national implications, as well. It may provide supporters of stricter voter laws with a concrete example of fraud that conceivably changed the results of a race.
“It certainly provides something of an answer to people who take the position that we don’t need tougher voter ID or other safeguards,” said Woody Cozad, a former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party. “Just because (one-time Jackson County political boss) Tom Pendergast is dead doesn’t mean vote fraud has come to an end.”
This is just one example of how voter fraud can impact election results. Conservatives don’t want voter ID laws because they hate minorities. They want them because voter fraud compromises the integrity of our electoral system and validity of the results.
The bipartisan drumbeat for privacy safeguards regarding domestic drone use continued at a congressional hearing Friday morning. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations was overshadowed in everything but name by the Ways and Means inquiry into the IRS’s political targeting of conservative groups, as reported by my colleague Kaylin Bugos. The proceedings illustrated that members of both parties are wary of drones’ privacy implications but open to their considerable promise. While addressing lingering regulatory questions, expert witnesses added details to the emerging picture of our nation’s buzzing future. The hearing was dominated by two issues: Law enforcement surveillance and the expectation of privacy.
Chris Calabrese of the American Civil Liberties Union said the relatively low cost and compact size of unmanned platforms mitigated the natural limits of traditional helicopter surveillance, noting a large blimp could monitor many square miles or a small helicopter could peer into windows. The advancement of camera technology was a theme: Greg McNeal of the Pepperdine School of Law described reading name tags and facial expressions from two miles away; Boston University School of Law’s Tracey Maclin touched on capabilities such as night vision, biometric facial recognition, and microwave scanners that can see through walls. This goes beyond the plainview standards previously used to examine the reasonableness of searches under the Fourth Amendment, he said.
The ACLU representative laid out four domestic drone policy principles: No mass surveillance, minimal information retention, no weaponization of drones, and the need for oversight, specifically the involvement of communities in any law enforcement decision to acquire a drone and notification of usage. Calabrese specified that law enforcement agencies should only deploy drones with a specific objective in mind under a warrant issued according to a traditional probable cause standard, and any information should be discarded once its specific reason for being gathered is exhausted. “In the 21st century as we get these new technologies we have to make sure our values come with us,” he explained, adding that Congress is well-suited to that role, although the FAA can play an expert function.
Saying the Fourth Amendment offers the most protection, the Brooking Institution’s John Villasenor asserted courts are in the best position to guard against law enforcement abuses. He also pointed to a longstanding body of common law and state civil and criminal statutes regarding invasion of privacy. But the nature of public space has changed, Calabrese argued, because most people do not assume they are being recorded while out and about. Law enforcement cameras mounted on traffic signals and squad cars are already ubiquitous, but drones made further the trend. “A camera trained on someone’s home persistently day after day will be treated the same whether it is on a drone or mounted a different way,” said McNeal. Maclin seemingly confirmed this, asserting there would be no constitutional distinction whether a camera was mounted on a drone or elsewhere.
In bizarre testimony on Capitol Hill today, IRS acting director Steve Miller told Congress that agents used secret codenames to identify him, including “space cowboy,” “gangster of love,” and “Maurice.”
“People talk about me, baby. Say I’m doing you wrong, doing you wrong,” Miller reportedly said in his opening remarks. “Well don’t you worry, baby, don’t worry. Cause I’m right here, right here, right here, right here at home.”
Miller repeatedly used the word “pompatus” throughout his testimony in an ambiguous way that caused confusion among members of the House panel. “Can we get a dictionary in here?” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) asked at one point. “I’m pretty sure he’s just makin’ up words.”
The hearing, which lasted about three minutes and thirty seconds, took several uncomfortable twists. Miller made inappropriate remarks and told female members of the panel: “I really love your peaches, want to shake your tree.” Additionally, Miller spoke unprompted about his tobacco and marijuana use, which may lead to further investigation.
H/T Dan Mitchell
One of the most convincing arguments against the death penalty that I have heard is that the justice accomplished by an execution isn’t worth the death of an innocent man. Meaning, as DNA evidence and technological advances have proven, occasionally innocent people have been put to death for crimes they didn’t commit. This is not a majority or even a significant minority of cases. But still the question must be posed: Is punishing the guilty worth the blood of innocent men?
Now after Kermit Gosnell, pro-choice advocates face a similar moral dilemma. Gosnell is not alone. As Jordan Gonzalez reported yesterday abortionist Douglas Karpen has a similar history of atrocity. Beyond that, reports have come in from Delaware and other places where horrifying abortion clinics exist. This is what it boils down to: Even if one does not believe a baby in the womb is a life, what is universally recognized as life—newborns—have been sacrificed on the altar of the pro-choice movement and “consequence-free” sex. We as a society have allowed the murder of babies so that we can continue to maintain a pro-choice option. And don’t feed me the allowances for rape and protection of the mother. Those account for a tiny fraction of total abortions and distract from the main reason why people exercise their “choice”: they are selfish and don’t want to be parents.
Is it worth it?
Newtown prompted a national debate and a vote in the Senate on gun control (not even the issue in that instance) but Gosnell hasn’t prompted a single congressional hearing despite decades of abuse.
I know I am preaching to the choir at The American Spectator but I can’t help but cry out to the masses. How many have to die so that you can avoid being a parent? How many? Is it possible to maintain that America has some sort of moral high ground when we allow and tacitly encourage clinics like Gosnell’s and Karpen’s to exist? We have no legitimate claim on morality. End this horror.
As if the IRS wasn’t in enough trouble already, its also facing a lawsuit for mishandling medical records.
A medical company in California filed a class-action lawsuit against 15 IRS employees, alleging that they wrongly seized over 60 million medical records of over 10 million Americans.
Courthouse News Service reported the story in March, when the case was filed:
“This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power by several Internal Revenue Service (‘IRS’) agents (collectively referred to as ‘defendants’ herein) during a raid of John Doe Company, in the Southern District of California, on March 11, 2011,” the complaint states. “In a case involving solely a tax matter involving a former employee of the company, these agents stole more than 60,000,000 medical records of more than 10,000,000 Americans, including at least 1,000,000 Californians.
“No search warrant authorized the seizure of these records; no subpoena authorized the seizure of these records; none of the 10,000,000 Americans were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation and their medical records had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search.”
This suit gives more ammunition to Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), who announced his plan to introduce a bill keeping data on Americans’ healthcare decisions away from the agency in a hearing Wednesday.
Yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) questioned the trustworthiness of the IRS handling Obamacare data in light of its recent admissions concerning Tea Party group targeting.
If the IRS can’t handle data it isn’t even supposed to have access to, what should we expect with data it’s actually given? If it’s given free rein on data on Americans’ healthcare choices, it could have serious implications. The IRS has clearly shown its poor decision-making skills, and there’s no reason to think it would handle things differently in the future.
The official who ran the IRS office on tax-exempt organizations when the Tea Party was being targeted is now the director of the IRS office on Obamacare.
The IRS confirmed her position to ABC:
Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.
Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.
Grant announced today that he would retire June 3, despite being appointed as commissioner of the tax-exempt office May 8, a week ago.
Yesterday, I acknowledged Grant as a more logical target than Steve Miller, the acting chief of the IRS who was forced out despite the fact that he was not in the position when the audits happened. Ingram should have been the first one out, but she still holds her position.
Several congressmen, including Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), have expressed concern that the IRS will be given free rein on Obamacare data. If the woman who let the targeting happen oversees the office handling such data, why should we think the results will be any different? They won’t. The American people have lost any trust they might have had in the IRS, and rightly so.
There is no toilet paper in Venezuela.
Its new president, Nicolas Maduro, is importing 50 million rolls into the South American socialist paradise.
That’s a lot of caca in Caracas.
But this is what happens when the government nationalizes the production, distribution and pricing of material goods.
This is hardly a new phenomenon in socialist countries. Toilet paper shortages and long lines were a way of life in the former Soviet Union. When toilet paper wasn’t available, newspapers would have to do. All things considered, it was the only to put a copy of Pravda to good use. Perhaps this tradition will be revived in Venezuela.
Maduro, like the late Hugo Chavez before him, blames the opposition and the private sector for causing shortages.
Suffice it to say, Maduro is full of crap. Unfortunately for Venezuelans, they have nothing with which to wipe it away.
During a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called upon the Obama Administration to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Harper said the pipeline “absolutely needs to go ahead.”
The Tory PM went on to say, “I think all the facts are overwhelmingly on the side of approval. I know the administration will do a thorough analysis before arriving at the right decision.”
One could certainly argue that Harper is either being excessively diplomatic or excessively optimistic, possibly both.
But if the IRS, AP and Benghazi scandals don’t go away anytime soon, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Obama Administration throws conservatives a very big bone. That very big bone could be the Keystone XL Pipeline.
After IRS acting chief Steve Miller was forced to resign, it was only a matter of time before there was another casualty. It turns out it’s Joseph Grant, comissioner of the IRS’s tax exempt and government entities division.
The AP is reporting:
An internal IRS memo says Joseph Grant, commissioner of the agency’s tax exempt and government entities division, will retire June 3. Grant joins Steven Miller, who was forced to resign as acting IRS commissioner on Wednesday.
As part of his duties, Grant oversaw the IRS division that targeted tea party groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
Grant is more logical target than Miller, who wasn’t even the acting chief when the targeting occurred. Grant actually oversees those who were responsible for the scandal, so it makes sense that he would be forced out.
Before the shock and stench of Kermit Gosnell’s horrors was even allowed to dissipate, the lieutenant governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, has announced he is asking Harris County officials to investigate claims of abuse at a Houston abortion clinic.
As if horror movie sequels weren’t bad enough, we must endure one in real life: Gosnell 2.
According to Dewhurst’s official press release:
In a week when serial murderer Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of killing babies, I read with disgust about the allegations of Houston-based abortionist Douglas Karpen performing illegal late-term abortions surrounded by appalling sanitary conditions in his clinic. The Harris County authorities should perform a full-scale investigation and take action against those who broke state law.
The claims of abuse are positively Gosnell-esque. Three former employees claim in a video, released on May 3, that Dr. Douglas Karpen of Aaron Women’s Clinic performed illegal late-term abortions (past the 24-week limit), killed babies post-birth, and worked in unsanitary conditions.
The three employees—Deborah Edge, Gigi Aguliar, and Krystal Rodriguez—who could not be independently verified as clinic workers according to the Houston Chronicle, said that Karpen killed babies outside of the womb regularly.
“Most of the time the fetus would come completely out before he either cut the spinal cord or he introduced one of the instruments into the soft spot of the fetus in order to kill the fetus,” said Deborah Edge. “I am pretty sure I was seeing at least three to four fetuses that were completely delivered in some way or another.”
The employees further stated that along with puncturing the soft spot, Karpen would also twist the neck of birthed babies. Photos, which were allegedly taken on the employee’s cell phones, show extremely graphic images of fully formed, mutilated babies.
If he wasn’t able to get the baby out, he would “yank pieces – piece by piece – when they were oversize,” Edge said, which would create a mess.
“I’m talking about the whole floor dirty,” she said. “I’m talking about me drenched in blood.”
The video was created by the pro-life group Life Dynamics per the request of Operation Rescue, another pro-life advocacy group which has been investigating Aaron Women’s Clinic since 2011 for other violations such as sexual harassment and unsanitary conditions.
The original investigation was dismissed by the Texas Medical Board because of “insufficient evidence to prove that a violation of the Medical Practices Act occurred.” The dismissal letter, addressed to Cheryl Sullenger from Operation Rescue, can be read here.
As a side note, aside from pro-life sites, a few blogs, a miniature blog post from the New York Times, and the hidden Houston Chronicle story (try finding it on their site – it is quite a challenge), no major news sources are picking up the story as of today.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?