Category Archives: Opinion

U.S. to announce that North Korea behind Sony hack: CNN

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says federal investigators have now connected the Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. hacking to North Korea and are expected to make an announcement in the near future.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.

Until Wednesday, the Obama administration had been saying it was not immediately clear who might have been responsible for the computer break-in. North Korea has publicly denied it was involved.

The unidentified hackers had demanded that Sony cancel its upcoming release of the movie "The Interview," a comedy that included a gruesome scene depicting the assassination of North Korea's leader. Sony on Wednesday canceled the Dec. 25 release after the hackers had released sensitive corporate files stolen in the break-in.

Cruz: Don’t Listen to Consultant ‘Cabal’ and Pick Another Romney in 2016

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) argued that the GOP should not listen to the "cabal" of consultants in the 2016 presidential race and should also not nominate another Bob Dole, John McCain, or Mitt Romney on Wednesday's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on the Fox News Channel.

Regarding a potential run by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Cruz stated "Jeb Bush is a good man, I think he was a good governor of the state of Florida." And "in my view, Republicans should nominate whoever's standing up and leading, whoever is taking on the great challenges of the day, whoever is standing up for free market principles, standing up and making the case that the Obama economy isn't working, it's a disaster...whoever is making the case that Obamacare is a trainwreck and we can do better [whoever's] standing up and defending our Constitutional rights that are under assault from Washington, whoever's standing up and defending rule of law...whoever is standing up and championing restoring America's leadership in the world, getting back to peace through strength," although he did not specify which candidates fit that description.

When asked about big GOP donors supporting candidates like Jeb or Chris Christie instead of Cruz, he responded "there's this small cabal of consultants in Washington who keep running national campaigns, and they keep losing, they keep losing over and over again...what we're doing isn't working, and Neil, what seems clear to me is if we nominate another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole, or a John McCain, or a Mitt Romney, and let me be clear, all three of them are good, honorable, principled men, but it isn't working. And if we do it again, the same voters who stayed home in '08 and '12 will stay home in '16 and Hillary Clinton's the next president."

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

Obama in 2008: No Normalized Relations with Cuba Until All Political Prisoners Released

On May 23, 2008, then-presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) gave a speech at the Cuban-American National Foundation’s annual Cuban Independence Day luncheon where he promised he would not begin to "normalize" relations with Cuba until all political prisoner are released, saying "beginning with with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations."

According to Human Rights Watch's "World Report 2014," the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation reported over 3,600 arbitrary political detentions in 2013.

Obama said, "My policy towards Cuba will be guided by one word, liberty. The road to freedom for all Cubans must begin with justice for Cuba's political prisoners, the right of free speech, a free press, freedom of assembly, and it must lead to elections that are free and fair. That is my commitment."

He added, "I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with leverage to present, so do not be confused about this, I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with clear choice. If you take significant steps towards democracy, beginning with with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That is the way to bring about real change in Cuba, through strong, smart, principled diplomacy. We cannot keep playing political games on this issue. It is time for us to finally bring about the changes that will release the enormous potential of the people that are currently trapped in Cuba."

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

Columnist: Ferguson Protests About ‘White Rage,’ Not Black Lives

Chip Johnson, a black columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, has expressed his frustration with the abundance of white voices and paucity of black voices in the Bay Area protests over the deaths of black men like Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Johnson writes, “So far, it seems all I’ve seen and heard in three weeks of protest are some pretty vocal white folks screaming to have their way, or dismissing the actions of the wolves inside the flock as the ugly backside of democracy.” 

Johnson points out that with the decline of religious observance in the Bay Area, black religious leaders have been ignored. He quotes Bishop Joseph Simmons, pastor at Greater St. Paul Church in West Oakland, saying, “The clergy in Oakland have not really come together. We’re still trying to figure out where we fit in in all of this. This generation doesn’t have respect for the church, and we don’t have the power we once had.” 

In Johnson’s opinion, if black leaders from churches or community organizations would become more involved, an older generation of blacks who fought in the civil rights struggles decades ago could relate more to present-day blacks. He assumes that racism is endemic in America, writing, “...the roots and underlying reasons for racial animosity in America run far and deep and are fed by so many malicious streams that the deaths of African American men in confrontations with white police officers are but a symptom of a much broader social disease.” 

Johnson seems willing to acknowledge that the crimes committed in the name of protests--but notes that they hurt the black cause. He quotes Bishop Bob Jackson, the black pastor at Acts Full Gospel Church, saying, “When you see protesters taking the opportunity to loot stores and burn stuff, it doesn’t help preserve the memories of young men like Brown and Garner. Using their deaths as an excuse to terrorize innocent citizens, loot, rob and destroy only hurts our cause.” 

Jackson continued, “I hope this is a movement that leads to changes in law enforcement’s approach toward black people, but this is our problem and it will only be fixed by black people standing up. They can stand with us if they want to, but this is a black matter and we’re the ones who need to stand together and join forces.” 

Over the weekend, the Chronicle had quoted Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, a black community leader, saying, “There are people who would like to participate, but they feel co-opted and don’t want to be aligned with the vandalism and with people throwing things at the police.” 

The Chronicle also noted that last Tuesday, white City Councilman Kriss Worthington, speaking at the Old City Hall in Berkeley, was heckled by those yelling, “Let a black person talk!” and “We’ve heard from enough Caucasian men!” The heckling ended when Latino and black men spoke afterward.

Pot-Smoking Santa Decoration Removed from Dispensary After Complaints

A medical marijuana dispensary in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles, California was forced to remove a decal depicting Santa Claus smoking marijuana after dozens of complaints were lodged against the pot shop on Facebook.

Last week, the Harbor House of Dank in San Pedro hired an artist to paint Christmas decorations on its storefront, including the pot-smoking Santa and a snowman holding a prescription pill bottle, according to NBC 4 Southern California.

Complaints quickly mounted against the business on the "Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Watch" Facebook page, with residents expressing anger at the dispensary for putting them in a difficult situation with regard to explaining the decorations to children.

"What do you tell your kids about that?" resident Tony Apodaca asked NBC. "I was shocked when I drove by in the morning knowing there's a junior high school a block away."

While the dispensary manager told NBC he did not realize the decorations would cause a stir, and immediately called the artist to take them down, his high-profile stunt drew closer scrutiny to the business, which Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino's office says is illegal because it opened in violation of the city's Proposition D. 

Proposition D stipulates that only those dispensaries that opened before 2007 can stay in business legally. The Harbor House of Dank reportedly opened just a few weeks ago.

It may become harder to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries in the near future; under a buried provision in the recently-approved $1.1 trillion Senate spending bill, federal authorities will no longer be able to conduct raids on medical marijuana dispensaries operating in states that have legalized marijuana for medical use.

Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-Costa Mesa) told the Los Angeles Times that the approval of the measure represents "the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana."

"The war on medical marijuana is over," Drug Policy Alliance lobbyist Bill Piper added to the Times. "Now the fight moves on to legalization of all marijuana. This is the strongest signal we have received from Congress [that] the politics have really shifted....Congress has been slow to catch up with the states and American people, but it is catching up."

Image: KCAL-9 via UPI

Gas Prices Will Spike in California Jan. 1 Due to Cap-and-Trade

California’s cap-and-trade program will cause the cost of gasoline to skyrocket after New Year’s Day, reports CBS Los Angeles. The price hikes may come as a shock to drivers, as Americans in the rest of the country will likely continue to enjoy falling fuel prices in the near future. Estimates of the price increase vary wildly: 

  1. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) asserts prices will increase 10 cents a gallon;
  2. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) believes prices will rise from 13 to 20 cents per gallon immediately, rising to 50 cents by 2020;
  3. The Western States Petroleum Association says prices will ascend 76 cents a gallon;
  4. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Consulting Group said in 2012 that prices would rise between $0.49 and $1.83 per gallon by 2020. 

AB 32, passed in 2006 and signed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, was intended to reduce “global warming” by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. As Assemblyman Tim Donnelly noted, CARB slipped a tax into the program that will force refiners and importers to buy carbon credits.

Not only will drivers be hurt at the pump, but the ripple effect of the price increase for transportation will also inflate the prices of fresh produce and household goods. The bill will be implemented January 1, 2015.  

Critics of the cap-and-trade program note that the money drawn from the gas price hike will be targeted for high-speed rail and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Mike Morell, (R-Rancho Cucamonga), has co-authored Senate Bill 5, which would delay the gas fee until 2020. The GOP representative has been joined by some fellow representatives across the aisle, such as Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno), who wrote AB 69, which would delay the gas tax for three years. 

Donnelly tried to take the matter further, attempting to abolish CARB once and for all with his own bill, AB 1332.

Royce: Cuban Prisoner Swap Signals ‘Disturbing Trend’

Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) pointed to a "disturbing trend" under the Obama Administration, in which there are increased negotiations with spies and terrorists, culminating with President Obama's decision to release three Cuban spies in exchange for U.S. aid worker Alan Gross.

The Obama administration has also announced its intention to fully restore U.S.-Cuba relations by opening an embassy in Havana for the first time in over 50 years, a move Royce says could destabilize U.S. security.

Rep. Royce issued the following press release on Wednesday regarding the prisoner exchange:

For more than five years, Alan Gross, a humanitarian worker, was wrongly imprisoned by the Castro regime.  He should have been unconditionally released a long time ago.  Period.  Instead, a disturbing pattern is emerging where the Obama Administration is willing to negotiate the release of spies or terrorists.  I fail to see how this trend will improve the long-term security of the United States and its citizens.        

The President outlined today numerous changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba, intended to bolster civil-society and Cuban access to information.  It's ironic that’s exactly what Alan Gross was imprisoned for.    

It is still unclear what steps the Cuban government is taking in return for this change in U.S. policy.  It doesn’t look like much.  The President compared our economic relationship with Cuba to that of China and Vietnam.  But in China and Vietnam, while Communist, at least foreign firms can hire and recruit staff directly, without their pay going to and bolstering the government, as it does in Cuba.  

In this respect, Cuba is more like North Korea than it is China.  For your Cuban worker at the foreign-owned resort, they only receive a fraction of their salary – as little as 5 percent.  Castro or Kim, the method is the same – extract hard currency from the outside, invest in the security apparatus, and make zero changes at home.  Ordinary Cubans will not be economically or politically empowered unless Cuba's economic system changes; until President Obama’s announcement today, the United States had been demanding this change.  

I am very troubled by the lack of engagement with Congress on this serious policy shift.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

Goodlatte: Court’s ‘Unconstitutional’ Executive Amnesty Opinion ‘Good Sign’

The recent court opinion declaring portions of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration to be “unconstitutional” bodes well for future litigation against the president’s recent order, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte tells Breitbart News. 

Tuesday, District Court Judge Arthur Schwab ruled that aspects of Obama’s executive actions go “beyond prosecutorial discretion” to actually legislating. He made these judgments as part of an opinion dealing with a criminal case.

“President Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause, and therefore, is unconstitutional,” Schwab wrote.

In a statement to Breitbart News, Goodlatte — whose committee has jurisdiction over immigration matters — said he agreed with Schwab’s analysis and expressed optimism about future court challenges to Obama’s executive actions. 

"I agree with Judge Schwab that President Obama's unilateral rewriting of our immigration laws violates the separation of powers and the President's duty to enforce the law,” the Virginia lawmaker said. “This ruling is a good sign for the states' lawsuit challenging President Obama's unilateral, unconstitutional actions.”

Goodlatte continued, saying that when Congress returns next year it must look at all options to take on Obama’s executive actions.

“Congress will continue fighting the President's actions early next year and should consider all the tools it has at its disposal, including potential litigation. Additionally, I am hopeful that the states will be successful in their effort to stop the President's actions from being implemented.”

Goodlatte recently signed on to an amicus brief the conservative American Center for Law and Justice submitted Tuesday in support of the recent lawsuit 24 states have filed challenging Obama’s executive amnesty. 

“The President’s executive overreach on immigration must be stopped,” he stressed Tuesday in announcing his support of the brief.

Cruz: Cuba Deal ‘Continues the Brutal Repression and Dictatorship’

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that President Obama's freeing of Cuban spies and push to normalize relations with the island "continues the brutal repression and dictatorship of the Castro Brothers" on Wednesday's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on the Fox News Channel.

"First, it was Russia, then it was Iran, now it's Cuba. this announcement today will be remembered as a tragic mistake. you know, Cuba was struggling, it was gasping, gasping for air. It has been relying on Venezuela. With oil prices cratering, Venezuela is hurting economically and just like the administration did with Iran, right when the administration was feeling the maximum pain, it throws them an economic lifeline and continues the brutal repression and dictatorship of the Castro Brothers" he stated.

Cruz continued that increased money flowing into the island "enriches and empowers the dictatorship...Cuba is an ally of North Korea. It is an ally of Iran. It is an ally of Venezuela. It is an avowed enemy of this country. It was striking the president's remarks, he talked about the Bay of Pigs invasion, but somehow completely omitted the Cuban Missile Crisis, somehow completely omitted an incredible threat to U.S. national security...and it was sad to see both the president and John Kerry essentially blame America first. Blame America for the relation[ship] between the United States and Cuba. Look, the Castros are the ones who have decided to be brutal, reppressive dictators. And we should not be taking blame for the fact that we responded to their active acts of war and hostility. They are a leading state sponsor of terrorism, and just like President Obama did with Russia, just like President Obama did with Iran he does not understand the difference between our friends and our enemies." 

He added that the swap for American Alan Gross was "reminiscent" of the Bowe Bergdahl swap, and accused President Obama of favoring "a position of weakness" and trying to push back against the midterm election results by acting unilaterally.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett