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A lesbian couple in Texas is claiming discrimination after a judge told the pair they legally could not live together. Carolyn Compton and Page Price have been sharing a household with Compton’s two daughters, ages 10 and 13. But the judge said Price would have to move out, because of a “morality clause” in the divorce papers Compton signed when she ended her 11-year heterosexual marriage, the Dallas Morning News reports. The fairly common clause forbids either parent from having romantic partners stay overnight while their kids are home.
After a week of revelations about government spying on reporters and the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservatives, most voters feel “like the federal government has gotten out of control and is threatening the basic civil liberties of Americans.”
At the same time, a new Fox News poll finds disapproval of President Obama’s job performance is above 50 percent for the first time in a year, his honesty rating is at a new low and half of voters already think he’s a lame-duck.
More than two-thirds of voters — 68 percent — feel the government is out of control and threatening their civil liberties. About one quarter disagree (26 percent).
Nearly half of Democrats (47 percent), as well as large numbers of independents (76 percent) and Republicans (87 percent) feel Uncle Sam is taking liberties with their liberties.
The IRS scandal provides Republicans and conservatives with the opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare now. The House Republican majority should refuse to fund the expansion of the IRS necessary to manage Obamacare. Without that funding, and hiring thousands of additional agents, the IRS cannot even begin to manage Obamacare.
President Obama may throw a fit. He may refuse to sign funding bills to keep the federal government open. No matter. Let him close his government down if he wants. Nobody wants the IRS playing political games with their health care and health records, like it did with the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and Equal Protection of Tea Party and conservative organizations. Contribute to the Republican Party? Attend a Tea Party protest? Good luck getting your Obamacare health insurance tax credit application approved. Good luck finding a doctor the government will pay to do that operation your kid needs.
Obama can flail away all he wants. The public will now back the Republicans in this fight, just as it did in the sequester battle. But won’t the public feel that the Republicans would be irresponsible to just refuse to fund Obamacare, leaving the health system in chaos?
While national polls haven’t shown a shift in the public’s opinion of President Barack Obama’s performance, recent controversies have, in my view, significantly changed the political landscape.
And changes in the landscape have led the Rothenberg Political Report to change its Senate ratings.
For the past few years, the public’s focus has been on Republicans’ opposition to the president’s agenda, their desire to shrink (even cripple) government and their conservatism. But the IRS scandal, along with controversies involving the attack in Benghazi and the Justice Department’s collecting of journalists’ telephone records, has change the political narrative.
While the Oklahoma tornado tragedy will dominate media coverage for the next few days, the new political narrative that will re-emerge when journalists return to politics involves questions about what the administration knew, said and did.
The new focus on the Obama administration puts it on the defensive and should boost enthusiasm on the political right throughout this year.
While we don’t know how long the focus will stay on the administration — or whether Republicans will stumble over the investigations or matters of public policy — between now and the November midterms, it is undeniable that recent events have altered, at least for now, the trajectory of the 2014 elections.
Given the different natures of midterm electorates, the new political narrative increases the risk for Democratic candidates in red states, where Democrats must win independent and, in many cases, Republican voters to be successful.
The Pew Research Center’s latest survey on Europeans’ attitudes toward EU politics and economics brings across one message loud and clear: Europeans are not happy. People from every major country report extreme dissatisfaction with the economy and their political leaders. Increasingly, they also share a sense that the European Union and economic integration were mistakes for their countries: only 45 percent now view the EU favorably, down from 60 percent in 2012.
The one notable exception is Germany, whose people remain the most optimistic about the European project. Despite Germans’ hand-wringing about their spendthrift neighbors, they gave the EU a 60 percent approval rating, with 54 percent believing that economic integration has strengthened their economy. This may have something to do with the fact that Germans think the EU offers the best chance for controlling reckless spending by their neighbors; Germany is the only country where support for giving Brussels more power is over 50 percent.
The chief judge of the District’s federal court issued an unusual order Wednesday, apologizing to the public and the media for not making certain court documents widely available online.
The gesture of transparency by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth comes at a time when the Obama administration is under scrutiny for an unprecedented number of leak investigations, including one showing that the Justice Department had secretly probed the news-gathering activities of Fox News reporter James Rosen.
The investigation of Rosen was first reported Monday, after The Washington Post obtained court documents containing details of the case. A federal judge had ordered the documents unsealed in November 2011, but they were kept sealed for 18 months and not posted on the court’s online docket until last week, after The Post inquired about them.
Lamberth blamed a series of administrative errors and said a review of the “performance of the personnel involved is underway.” He also said he was creating a new category on the court’s Web site where all search and arrest warrants will be made public unless they fall under a separate sealing order.
The Senate immigration bill’s authors acknowledged Tuesday that their legislation does not require illegal immigrants to pay all back taxes, saying it would be too difficult to make them ante up everything they might owe.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who is chief sponsor of the bill, said illegal immigrants by definition are living in the shadows, and requiring them to reconstruct their pay history could be tough — and potentially keep many of them from legalization.
“We all realize that the system is broken. We all realize that people did wrong things. And the goal is to set this right by letting those in the shadows come out,” Mr. Schumer said Tuesday as the Judiciary Committee plowed through more amendments to the 867-page immigration bill. “The worry I have here is that by being as rigid … as this amendment is, that it will delay and prevent many, many people from coming out of the shadows.”
The issue of back taxes is an emotionally charged part of the current immigration debate.
Mr. Schumer and the other members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” who wrote the immigration bill have said the legislation requires illegal immigrants to pay “a fine and back taxes,” and that is true — up to a point.
The bill says that before illegal immigrants can apply for initial legal status, they must have “satisfied any applicable federal tax liability.” That is defined as “all federal income taxes assessed.”
A dramatic video tonight emerged of a man with bloodied hands, carrying knives and ranting ‘We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you’, after a serving soldier was hacked to death by two men just 200 yards from an Army barracks.
The man can be seen and heard talking to the camera. The video came as terrified eyewitnesses saw two men shot by police marksmen after the machete attack in Woolwich, south-east London.
The two men are thought to have waited around for 20 minutes until Metropolitan Police officers arrived and then tried to attack them – but were swiftly shot by armed policemen, including a woman.
They apparently shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’, which means ‘God is great’ in Arabic, and tried to film the attack, the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson said.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe tonight confirmed two men had been arrested and officers from the counter-terrorist unit were leading the investigation into the killing.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said embattled IRS official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights and will be hauled back to appear before his panel again.
The California Republican said Lerner’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination was voided when she gave an opening statement this morning denying any wrongdoing and professing pride in her government service.
“When I asked her her questions from the very beginning, I did so so she could assert her rights prior to any statement,” Issa told POLITICO. “She chose not to do so — so she waived.”Lerner triggered the IRS scandal on May 10 when she acknowledged that the agency wrongly targeted conservative groups applying for a tax exemption. Her lawyer told the House committee earlier this week that she would exercise her Fifth Amendment.
She appeared before Issa’s committee this morning under the order of a subpoena and surprised many by reading a strong statement to the panel.
“I have not done anything wrong,” she said. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee.”
Issa dismissed her from the committee room once it became clear she wouldn’t answer questions. As the hearing wound down this afternoon, Issa kept the panel in recess instead of adjourning. The move allows him to recall Lerner without issuing a new subpoena.Legal experts are questioning whether Lerner’s Fifth Amendment protections dissolved once she began talking on Wednesday, as Issa argues.
“I don’t think a brief introductory preface to her formal invocation of the privilege is a waiver,” said Stan Brand, who was the general counsel for the House of Representatives from 1976 to 1983 and works on ethics issues.
He said the bigger problem for Lerner may be that she has made herself available to Congress in the past.
“The more serious question is whether any of her earlier congressional appearances before other committees constituted a waiver,” Brand said. “That in turn may depend on whether any of those appearances were ‘compelled’ — that is, pursuant to a subpoena.”
He said the committee may ultimately pursue a contempt charge if Lerner continues to refuse to talk.
“Bottom line,” Brand said, “I think we will hear no more from Ms. Lerner” unless she is provided immunity.
J. Russell George paused for just a moment before he took his seat at the witness table. He wanted to take it all in. The Treasury inspector general whose audit of the IRS had set off a national firestorm had been in this very room before—three decades earlier.
That was back when George was a precocious teenager who had worked his way onto the staff of then-Sen. Bob Dole, the powerful Republican chairman of the vaunted Finance Committee. Then, he’d sorted mail and made carbon copies. Now, he was about to testify before the same panel, to present the findings of an explosive audit that found wayward tax agents who had targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
“I could never have dreamed [about this] as a 17, 18-year-old,” George said in a wide-ranging interview with National Journal, one of his first since the audit. “It’s kind of moving for me in that regard.”
Two heads have already rolled in the scandal. One of them, the outgoing acting commissioner of the IRS, Steven Miller, was seated next to George. Pictures of the two of them, their right hands raised, taking the oath, ran in papers across the nation after the scandal’s first congressional hearing last week.
All the attention was new, but George has operated in these halls of power his entire career. He worked for Dole, and then in President George H.W. Bush’s White House. In between, he attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1988 alongside a young Michelle Obama (then Michelle Robinson).
They weren’t in the same section—the academic groupings that Harvard uses to divide its students—but George said they traveled in some of the same social circles, including the Black Law Students Association.
“I think he actually dated Michelle at one point,” said former Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, who worked with George when he was staff director for a House oversight subcommittee in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“That is overstating it,” George said. But the two students did socialize in group settings. “Michelle was a lovely person, and down to earth,” he said. “…The BLSA went out for pizza; we would go out together.”
He paused, for a beat. “Don’t get me in trouble,” George said.