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Manchin: Reid’s Koch Obsession ‘Does Not Help Us Move This Country Forward’


At least one Democrat isn’t a fan of Harry Reid’s obsession with attacking the Koch brothers on the Senate floor. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin said he’s “always disappointed” when the majority leader relapses in his Koch dependency.

“You don’t beat up people,” he told Fox News on Thursday. “I mean, I don’t agree with [the Kochs'] politics or philosophically, but they’re Americans — they’re paying their taxes, they’re not breaking the law, they’re providing jobs.” (He did not, however, provide evidence that the Kochs have paid their taxes; perhaps Senator Reid has heard otherwise.)

He pushed back against the notion that the strategy helps fire up Democratic voters, saying that both parties’ bases are already enthusiastic.

Congressional leadership should be more focused on America’s ailing economy, Manchin argued. “This type of rhetoric does not help us move this country or move the agenda forward,” he said.

Re: Independent Senator Signals Etc.


I very much doubt that Senator King would ever give Republicans control of the Senate, John, as opposed to joining a clear GOP majority. He seems more comfortable ideologically with the Democrats, for one thing. For another, the 2016 Senate-race map looks a lot less friendly to Republicans than the 2014 map. King would have to factor in the possibility that a 50-seat-plus-him Republican majority would disappear after two years, and that he might not have much bargaining power with annoyed Democrats in 2017.


You and Your Times


Among the items in Impromptus today, I have one on “green beans,” as Karl Rove calls them: environmental activists. One of the things I say is the following:

I have a beef with the “environmental movement”: I am pro-environment, and anti-pollution, and think we ought to be “good stewards of the earth.” But, in my lifetime, the environmentalists have been so extreme, I have been forced to be “anti-environmentalist.”

You know?

I thought I would expand on that for a second here on the Corner. The other day, Boris Johnson — the brilliant writer who moonlights as the mayor of London — had a column on air pollution in his city. He is a conservative, and he thinks the air ought to be good. Who doesn’t?

And, of course, there’s the old chestnut that “conservation” is a cousin of “conservatism.”

But, to an amazing degree, a person is defined by the age in which he lives. If you’re not an earth-worshipping, economy-destroying nut — you’re “against the environment.”

I think of the terrible issue of race as well. Time was, if you favored equality and colorblindness, you were nobly liberal. Two seconds after that, colorblindness was out, and color-consciousness was in. Race preferences were very much in. If you still favored the old liberal values, you were — you know: Starts with “r” (and ends with “ist”).

Do you recall Al Gore speaking — yelling, demagoguing — before the NAACP? “I’ve heard the critics of affirmative action. They talk about a colorblind society. Give me a break! Hel-lo? They use their ‘colorblind’ the way duck hunters use their duck blind: They hide behind it and hope the ducks won’t figure out what they’re up to.”

Nice, Al.

Well, here’s the bright side: It’s better to have him as a Nobel-bearing zillionaire than as a political officeholder.

Web Briefing: April 15, 2015

Partisan Political Chanting at the IRS


The latest news from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) about illegal political activities at the IRS will certainly not help the administration’s (and Representative Elijah Cummings’) current narrative that there is not a “smidgen of corruption” at the IRS.

OSC is an independent agency that investigates violations of the civil service rules that govern federal employees and the federal statute that protects whistleblowers, as well as violations by federal employees of the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activity of civil servants. One of those rules is an absolute prohibition on partisan political speech and activity in the federal workplace.

On April 9, OSC announced that it was seeking “significant disciplinary action” against an IRS customer-service representative who fielded taxpayer questions on the IRS customer-service helpline. Apparently, the IRS employee “urged taxpayers to reelect President Obama in 2012 by repeatedly reciting a chant based on the spelling of his last name.” OSC did not indicate what the “chant” was, and a spokesman for OCS told me he could not reveal the chant because of privacy rules, since it spelled out the employee’s name.

Another tax specialist in the Kentucky office of the IRS was given a 14-day suspension for telling a taxpayer she was “for” the Democrats because “Republicans already [sic] trying to cap my pension and…they’re going to take women back 40 years.” The tax specialist added that her mother told her that “if you vote for a Republican, the rich are going to get richer and the poor are going to get poorer.”

Unfortunately for the tax specialist, the taxpayer recorded the illicit telephone conversation. The recording even caught the IRS employee telling the taxpayer that “I’m not supposed to voice my opinion so you didn’t hear me saying that.” This particular IRS employee had been advised about the restrictions of the Hatch Act on this type of behavior “just weeks before the conversation,” according to the OSC.

The OSC also announced it had “issued cautionary guidance to all IRS employees” in the Dallas Taxpayer Assistance Center after it received complaints that the employees were “wearing pro-Obama political stickers, buttons, and clothing to work and displaying pro-Obama screensavers on their IRS computers.” It turned out that this was “commonplace throughout the office.” It makes one wonder how much of this was going on in other IRS offices where no one complained.

And it is more evidence that there is bias and partisan political behavior spread throughout the IRS, and not just in the Washington office where Lois Lerner worked before she retired to a nice federal pension.

— Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Along with John Fund, he is the co-author of Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk (Encounter, 2012) and the upcomingObama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department (Broadside, June 2014).


Actually, Eric Holder, Other AGs Have Faced ‘That Kind of Treatment’


Speaking at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference on Wednesday, Eric Holder took exception to criticism of his tenure as attorney general. He even hinted that the “unprecedented, unwarranted ugly and divisive adversity” was motivated by racism.

“​It had nothing to do with me, forget about that,”​ Holder said. “​What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”​

Holder’s notion that past attorneys general have escaped widespread criticism, or that criticism directed toward him is solely race-based, overlooks incidents of those before him, including one of his most recent predecessors. As Mediaite’s Noah Rothman points out, Bush-era attorney general Alberto Gonzales faced calls for his impeachment during his time in the office.

In 2007, seven Democratic representatives, including some still in Congress, urged the House Judiciary Committee to investigate fully whether sufficient grounds existed for the House of Representatives to impeach Gonzales for “​high crimes and misdemeanors.”​

Additionally, Reagan-era attorney general Edwin Meese hardly escaped criticism while in office. Taking issue with his handling of the Iran-Contra investigation, among other issues, critics of Meese and the administration printed posters and t-shirts with the phrase “Meese is a Pig”​ in an effort to remove him.



Thursday links


13 Epic Animal Migrations That Prove Just How Cool Mother Nature Is.

UPS Trucks Don’t Turn Left, Saving Them 10 Million Gallons of Gas/Year.

The Logistics and Economics of Trying to Cut Your Electric Bill By Building a Hydroelectric Dam in Your Bathtub.

The U.S. Army’s Camel Corps.

Advice from c. 530: How To Use Bacon.

Portraits of Everyday Foods Sliced in Half.

ICYMI, Tuesday’s links are here, and include a cube built out of one-way mirrors, vintage accordion groupies, and the best states for surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Independent Senator Signals He Could Give GOP Senate Control


Democrats have another headache in their struggle to keep control of the Senate this year. Senator Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, is now saying it’s possible he could switch sides and help the Republicans form a Senate majority.

“I’ll make my decision at the time based on what I think is best for Maine,” King told the Hill newspaper yesterday.

King usually votes with Democrats, but this week he joined the GOP in blocking a Democratic bill requiring companies to explain pay disparities between the sexes and making it easier for those claiming discrimination to file lawsuits.

Control of the Senate may come down to one seat this fall. If the GOP wins six seats they will elect a majority leader and chair all committees. But if they gain only five seats and the Senate is tied at 50 to 50, Vice President Joe Biden would break the tie in favor of the Democrats. In 2001, a tie also occurred and the two parties worked out a partial power-sharing agreement.

Senator King has said Maine’s status as a small state makes it important for him to be part of any Senate majority. “In the situation where one party has a clear majority and effectiveness is an important criteria, affiliating with the majority makes the most sense,” King said when he ran for his first term in 2012. 

King began his career as a liberal Democrat, but has long demonstrated flashes of independence. He ran for governor in 1994 as an independent saying, “Sometimes the best thing the government can do is get out of the way.” He defeated candidates of both major parties, eventually serving two full terms before retiring in 2002. As governor, King trimmed state employees and the budget and cut the time required for environmental permits dramatically.

When he ran for the Senate, he went out of his way to appeal to both conservatives and liberals. The Almanac of American Politics reports that “his Senate campaign headquarters prominently featured two photographs side by side: one of former Republican President Ronald Reagan, and the other of former Democratic Attorney General Robert Kennedy.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Responds to Brandeis & CAIR


Ayaan appeared on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program last night and was, as ever, eloquent in addressing Brandeis’s disgraceful withdrawal of the degree they were to honor her with for her heroic human rights work. The interview is here

Charlie has a great column about the controversy on the home page. I’ll have more to say about it shortly.

Angus King: I Could Caucus with Republicans Next Year


That’s what he said yesterday. I’m not sure what his defection would actually do for Republicans if they already held the Senate, or what the price would be (passing over an actual Republican for a plum committee assignment?).

Get Lost


Today we have a special Thursday edition of Between the Covers with Hiawatha Bray, author of You Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves. We discuss whether we’re entering an era in which it will become almost impossible to get lost (unless you’re a Boeing 777), whether the impossibility of getting lost also means the impossibility of hiding, and what lawmakers should do right now to protect the privacy of American citizens.

La. Congressman Endorsed by Duck Dynasty Family Embroiled in Video Scandal


Representative Vance McAllister is the only member of Congress to hold his seat thanks to an endorsement by members of the Duck Dynasty reality TV show. The Louisiana Republican soared to victory in a special election last November after members of the Robertson family gave him their blessing. But McAllister could now lose his seat because of the reality show he’s now created for himself. A security video taken at his district office in Monroe shows him passionately kissing a member of his staff, who, like the congressman, is married to someone else.

McAllister has told his hometown paper that he is “ashamed” of his behavior and had already confessed to his wife about the affair. But he also seems obsessed with tracking down the leaker of the video. Yesterday, his office requested an FBI investigation. Adam Terry, his chief of staff, said, “A breach in security in a federal office is a grave concern for us.”

The investigation hardly seems necessary or a good use of taxpayer resources, and McAllister’s office dropped the request for the probe late on Wednesday. West Monroe minister Danny Chance has told the Monroe News-Star that Leah Gordon, McAllister’s Monroe district office manager, told him she planned to leak the video and the paper interviewed witnesses who confirmed the conversation. For now, Gordon remains on McAllister’s payroll while the staffer he was canoodling with was let go within 24 hours.

McAllister said he plans to stand for reelection next fall “unless there is an outcry for me not to serve. . . . If there’s somebody more perfect than me who they support, it’s their will.”

An odd choice of words, and McAllister should brace himself for a slew of challengers to file against him before the August 22 deadline. As now appears likely, if no one wins 50 percent or more in the November election, the top two challengers then go into a December runoff.

Louisiana has been generally forgiving of scandal-ridden politicians. Think Edwin Edwards, the former Democratic governor now trying for a comeback to Congress at age 86 in a neighboring district. Edwards famously boasted he could lose only if “caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl.” David Vitter, Louisiana’s sitting GOP senator, survived a 2007 scandal in which his name appeared on the client list of a prominent New Orleans house of prostitution. But the McAllister case is uncharted territory since it features a video that has attracted enormous popular attention. So the man who was propelled into office by a celebrity TV endorsement could be turfed out by voters for his own video infamy. 

Well, That’s One Silly Obama Administration Disparate-Impact Lawsuit Struck Down, Again


Last year, I wrote about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ridiculous “disparate impact” lawsuit against Kaplan Higher Learning Corp. The Obama administration sued Kaplan for running credit checks on job applicants (similar, by the way, to the ones the EEOC itself uses), alleging it was racially discriminatory. Kaplan had learned that some of its employees had misappropriated student payments and, to provide safeguards against this behavior, it began screening its applicants for major red flags in their credit history. The EEOC sued Kaplan, arguing that it cannot use credit checks because they have a disparate impact on black job applicants.

Anyway, putting aside the inherent dubiousness of the whole lawsuit, there were also severe methodological problems with the Obama administration’s evidence, which relied on “race raters” to determine the race of the applicants by scrutinizing driver’s-license photos. So the trial judge threw out the case.

Wednesday, I’m happy to report, the court of appeals affirmed that decision — and in no uncertain terms, I might add, much I’m sure to the Obama administration’s chagrin. 

Thanks for the pointer to the Pacific Legal Foundation, which filed an excellent amicus brief in the case that the Center for Equal Opportunity joined.

Pat Toomey Joins Mike Lee on the Ex-Im Bank — Which Has Doubled in Taxpayer Exposure since 2007


Senator Pat Toomey addressed the issue of the Ex-Im Bank on the Senate floor on Wednesday in a four-minute speech you can listen to here, making the case that important questions need to be asked about what the Bank is doing and achieving (or not achieving, as it were). 

Toomey seems to stand with Senate Mike Lee on this issue, raising concerns about the kind of corruption Lee pointed to in his NRO piece about Republican-endorsed cronyism this week:

The Right’s resistance to corporatism is a welcome development. Special-interest favoritism represents a uniquely malignant threat to the economic, political, and social ecosystem that makes America exceptional.

Policy privilege corrupts the free market by rewarding political connections over competitive excellence. It subverts the rule of law by codifying inequality. It undermines social solidarity by pitting citizens against one another, twisting cooperative communities into rival special interests. …

Whether the beneficiaries of particular Ex-Im Bank loan guarantees are respected, successful companies like Boeing or crony basket cases like Solyndra is irrelevant. Twisting policy to benefit any business at the expense of others is unfair and anti-growth.

Whether congressional Republicans say so — and do something about it — during the coming Ex-Im Bank debate will tell us a lot about what, and who, the party really stands for in 2014 and beyond.

Just what is this costing, or potentially costing, taxpayers? Well, ordinary American taxpayers’ exposure due to the Ex-Im Bank has doubled since 2007, to more than $4 billion, which should give us pause and at least convince lawmakers that a debate on the issue is necessary. 

Russia Withheld Key Information about the Boston Bombers Before the Attack


The Times reports:

The Russian government declined to provide the F.B.I. with information about one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects that would most likely have led to more extensive scrutiny of him at least two years before the attack, according to an inspector general’s report.

Russian officials had told the F.B.I. in 2011 that the suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, “was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer” and that Mr. Tsarnaev “had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”

But after an initial investigation by the F.B.I., the Russians declined several requests for additional information about Mr. Tsarnaev, according to the report, a review of how intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have thwarted the bombing.

At the time, American law enforcement officials believed that Mr. Tsarnaev posed a far greater threat to Russia.

The new inspector general’s report found that it was only after the bombing occurred last April that the Russians shared with the F.B.I. the additional intelligence, including information from a telephone conversation the Russian authorities had intercepted between Mr. Tsarnaev and his mother in which they discussed Islamic jihad.

“They found that the Russians did not provide all the information that they had on him back then, and based on everything that was available the F.B.I. did all that it could,” said a senior American official briefed on the review.

After it was discovered that Russia had told us something suspicious about the brothers’ jihadist sympathies before the bombings, there was some talk about how if the U.S. government just took the threat of Islamism as seriously as the Russians did, we might have followed up on the Russian leads far enough to catch the bombers before they did their barbarous act (i.e., that we should somehow either trust the Russians more or be more willing to work with them). I imagine we should feel a little less confident in our ability to cooperate even in areas of mutual interest (fighting transnational jihad) after the events of this spring, but this revelation is a perfectly good explanation of why you can’t blame the FBI for not trusting or working with their Russian counterparts back then, either: Maybe Russian intelligence withheld that information for some legitimate reason, or maybe . . . we should be very circumspect about trusting or dealing with people who don’t care at all about saving American lives (in fact, their incentives can run in the other direction — the more helpless we are, the more worried we are about jihadists in Chechnya).

The report that uncovered this information, which members of Congress will be briefed about Thursday, also turns up no substantial evidence that the bombers had ties to terrorist organizations, something that’s been hotly debated. (One of them spent some time in Dagestan, a province near his home in Russia that’s home to transational jihadist organizations.)

Krauthammer’s Take: Sorry McCain, Ayotte, and Graham, ‘The Clock Has Run Out on Benghazi’


Charles Krauthammer said “the clock has run out on Benghazi” Wednesday night, after Senators John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, and Lindsey Graham held a press conference to say they have no plans to abandon their effort to create a special committee to further investigate the scandal. 

He is “outraged as everybody” about the scandal, the commentator said, but as a political issue the country is tired of it and “a special committee is simply not going to work.” 

“I wish it had and I do think that Republicans in the hearings that they had, which were completely disorganized, let this thing slip away,” he said.

No Longer Banned in the British Library!


The British Library, I documented yesterday at NRO, had blocked my website and those of the Middle East Forum while letting through some of the most foul anti-Semitic and Islamist sites. The article ended with mention of my writing to the library, a government institution, to request that the blocks be removed. A substantial number of readers also wrote to the library in protest.

As a result, I am happy to report, the blocks have been removed. A representative of the library’s Electronic Services wrote me:

Apologies for the fact that the websites you listed below were blocked by the Library’s WiFi service. . . . I am writing to inform you that all sites listed are now available via the Library’s WiFi.

The library’s press office (@BLpressoffice) announced the end of the block on Twitter.

@DanielPipes re. your websites being blocked erroneously by @britishlibrary wifi: these have now been unblocked. Apologies for the mistake.

So, the library owned up to its mistake and corrected it expeditiously. I am pleased and reassured by this response.

But its replies raise deeper questions: Why did it take a library patron trying to access to learn about this problem? How could a major British governmental agency block these high-quality mainstream, informational, sites? How could it simultaneously give access to extremist, antisemitic, radical, Islamist, and jihadi websites?

The library informs me that it relies on an automated filtering software made by a company called Smoothwall and is “unable to advise [me] on the details of the algorithm” which Smoothwall utilizes for deciding which sites to block.

But that does not suffice. Even if unintended, this pattern of banning the friend and letting in the enemy suggest a powerful and distressing signal. I therefore pursued this matter with further questions:

For the British Library: How do you define intolerance? Now that you know that jihadi sites can be accessed on your WiFi system, will you continue to allow access to them?

For Smoothwall: Do you plan to make changes to the software that blocks and but permits Al-Qaeda’s operational website?

Tags: United Kingdom

Dem Congressman: I’ll Sell My Soul — But Only to Nancy Pelosi, Not the Kochs


Democratic congressman Nick Rahall told a GOP tracker on Tuesday that he would rather sell his soul to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi than “selling it to the Koch brothers!” 

Several weeks ago, when Pelosi promised him more campaign money and convinced him to stay in the race, Rahall was preparing for retirement. He is a top GOP target in the 2014 election.

The GOP tracker asked Rahall how it felt ”to sell your soul to Nancy Pelosi,” and the congressman initially ignored his comment, calling him “quite the jokester.” After a pregnant pause, Rahall quipped: “Better than selling it to the Koch brothers!”

Setting the Stage


Estonian Public Broadcasting:

A Russian newspaper says that Russian activists will hold two demonstrations in Tallinn in April to express solidarity with the Crimea and southeastern regions in Ukraine and “support the possibility” of holding a separatist referendum in northeastern Estonia [a part of the country heavily populated by ethnic Russians]. Estonian authorities say the rallies are likely to be marginal, [against] a background that has thus far been unreceptive to attempts to sow tensions.

“Two meetings will be held in Tallinn, organised by the association Russkije v Estonii (Russians in Estonia),” reported the Russian daily Izvestia.

“The first is planned in front of the Russian Embassy on April 12, and the second demonstration will take place on April 20 in front of Parliament,” the paper said in an unclearly attributed passage. “At this one, the organizers want to point to the fact that most Estonian cities were founded by Russians or have been part of Russia. This concerns Tartu (Yuryev), Narva, Tallinn (Revel). It is also planned to raise the question of the option of holding a referendum on self-determination.”

I’ll spare readers the ancient city chronicles, but Estonians or their forbears have been in this land for thousands of years. Even if we exclude the Soviet occupation, it is true that what is now Estonia was part of the Russian empire for two centuries (then again many nations spent time in that particular jailhouse), but — if we want to play the history game — we should note that there were also extensive periods of rule by Swedes, Danes and Teutonic Knights, none of whom appear to be dreaming of empires reborn.

Back to Estonian Public Broadcasting:

The paper also interviewed historian David Vseviov, who said the events will not have any particular impact.

“It’s a free country here and people can assemble where they want and when they want,” Vseviov told Izvestia.

The Estonian national security agency said the individuals who organised the demonstrations are known to them as provocateurs. Office director Andres Kahar told Delfi: “We have nothing more to say but that two Russian extremists – (Dmitri) Linter and (Juri) Zhuravlyov – are trying to ratchet up tensions, using fictitious organizations and movements as window dressing.”

Linter played a part in the April 2007 riots [triggered by the transfer of a Soviet war memorial to another location}, although he was not convicted of any wrongdoing. But the other, Zhuravlyov was involved in looting – such as in the Westman shop on a main commercial street – and received probation after being convicted for stealing a half case of beer, reported. Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Marko Mihkelson told Postimees that the “pro-Kremlin” demonstrations in Tallinn are attempts to sow tension and should be disregarded by the public, saying it was no surprise that special services in Russia would include Estonia in their destabilization attempts.

Sadly, Estonia can expect more of this sort of nonsense. With the country a member of NATO (one of the few, incidentally, that pays its fair share), Russian trouble-making will (cyber attacks apart) likely primarily consist of fomenting disorder within Estonia’s borders, and, specifically, among the country’s ethnic-Russian population, almost of whom are Soviet-era settlers or their descendants. I posted a bit about them here. Stirring this group up may prove more difficult than Moscow likes to imagine. As I noted the other day, Estonia’s ethnic Russians live far better, and enjoy much more in the way of political freedom, than they would across the border in Russia itself. And they also enjoy the ability to travel and work anywhere within the EU (Estonia is a member of the EU).

At the same time, it’s important not to underestimate the potential problems that could arise. To generalize, many of the Russians in Estonia are not, as one smart and unillusioned Estonian told me last week, “happy.” The experience of finding that the nature of the place in which you were born (or had lived, perhaps for decades) had profoundly changed — as was the case when Estonia recovered its independence in 1991— must have been profoundly disorientating for Russians cut off from their compatriots and their hinterland by the Soviet collapse. And enough of that sense of alienation may have endured to make those who feel it vulnerable to the appeal of their mother country, especially when that country appears to be on the rise, an appeal that may well be sharpened if rising tensions in the region lead to a mutual cooling in relations between Estonia’s two main ethnic groups.

And these tensions will doubtless be reinforced by the messages being spewed out by Russian TV (which is available in Estonia). For an idea of what that Russian TV in propaganda mode can be like, check out this Radio Free Europe story here. One Russian friend (resident in the U.S.) recently decided to spend some time in the company of TV programming from his homeland, It was, he told me, incredible in both senses of the word.

Brandeis University Rescinds Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Honorary Degree


Brandeis University rescinded an honorary degree in Social Justice it had planned to bestow on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s rights and atheist activist, who was to be honored at the university’s May 18 commencement. 

On Monday, students from Brandeis created a petition against Ali receiving the honorary degree because her ”ideas of justice threaten and attempt to eliminate a religion integral to many members of Brandeis University.” 

The students were angered by comments Ali made about Islamic law to Reason magazine in 2007.

“Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now,” Ali told Reason magazine. “They’re not interested in peace. I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars.”

Sarah Fahmy, a senior at Brandeis who created the petition, told Fox News that Ali’s honorary degree is a “slap in the face” to Muslim students and that her university “should not hold up someone who is an outright Islamophobic.”

Fahmy’s petition received over 6,000 signatures. The faculty followed her lead, and more than 85 of the university’s 350 faculty members signed a letter asking the administration to remove Ali from the list of honorary degree recipients. 

President Frederick Lawrence said in a statement on Tuesday: ”We cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” and he rescinded Ali’s honorary degree. 

Ali responded on Wednesday, saying: “I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. . . . The slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles.”

Ali received international attention in November 2004 when her filmmaking partner Theo van Gogh was stabbed, slashed, and shot in Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist from Morocco. Ali wrote Submission, a short film about the treatment of women under Islamic law, and it was directed by van Gogh. The assassin used a knife to pin a letter to van Gogh’s chest. The letter was a call to jihad and included a death threat to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

James O’Keefe Claims GOP State Senator Guilty of Campaign-Finance Hypocrisy


James O’Keefe has published audio of Wisconsin state senate president Mike Ellis (R.) in which he seems to discuss setting up an outside political action committee that will support his campaign and attack his political opponent. It is illegal for candidates to coordinate with independent PACs.

“I am putting together my own super PAC,” says the voice presumably belonging to Ellis in the recording taped secretly by O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. “I don’t need to kiss anybody’s ass.” He goes onto name the donors who will contribute to the PAC.

Previously Ellis had criticized the role of outside spending in politics, calling it “monstrous.”


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