Links for 6-4-2013

  • A soldier from Austin, Staff Sgt. Job M. Reigoux, was killed in Ghanzi Province, Afghanistan on Saturday.

  • Leaders of conservative groups targeted by the IRS when they applied for tax exempt status testified before the House Ways and Means Committee. Before the hearing, committee Democrats passed out talking points arguing that the IRS’ actions were not partisan. During the hearing, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) went on the offensive, claiming that the groups brought this on themselves by applying for tax exempt status, and that the IRS was justified in its actions because the groups advance political agendas. Oddly, there are many overtly liberal 501(c) groups that did not draw IRS scrutiny before or after their tax exempt status was granted. Moreover the committee Democrats did not produce any witnesses from liberal groups whose applications for tax exempt status were delayed for months if not years. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) responded to McDermott’s accusations directly and earned applause, something he probably hasn’t heard a lot of since his vice-presidential campaign ended. Finally, Obama chose to announce his plan to pack the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit at the same time as the committee hearing, which probably wasn’t an accident.

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted to shaking down three companies her agency regulates for contributions to Enroll America, a ACORN-like organization led by former Obama staffers that seeks to promote ObamaCare and enroll people in the program. Sebelius insists it’s perfectly legal for her to do this. Sebelius also refused to waive federal regulations that prevent 10 year old Sarah Murnaghan from receiving a lung transplant. Murnaghan is dying from cystic fibrosis and has three to five weeks to live unless she receives a lung transplant. Federal regulations dictate that she receive a pediatric transplant because she’s under 12 years old, and such donor lungs are rare. Adult donor lungs could save her life, but regulations prohibit that. Sebelius’ testimony included the quip “someone lives and someone dies,” which is likely to appear in many Republican Congressional campaign commercials next year. Sarah Palin is insuring you don’t miss the death panel aspect of Sebelius’ remarks.

  • The Financial Stability Oversight Council met in secret and decided to subject an unknown number of unnamed “systemically important” non-bank companies to its control. AIG, GE Capital, and Prudential have said they are among the targeted companies.

  • An Associated Press story about federal government use of fake email addresses to evade Freedom of Information Act requests drew a lot of attention today. We’ve known about this for months. The AP did manage to credit the Competitive Enterprise Institute for breaking the story, even if they couldn’t bring themselves to mention Christopher Horner or his book by name.

  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie scheduled a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat formerly occupied by Frank Lautenberg such that it posed a minimum risk to his re-election, further cementing his position as one of the country’s most self-centered, egotistical politicians (which is saying something given the current occupant of the White House). Christie is on the record saying he doesn’t care how much extra it will cost New Jersey to conduct two statewide elections within a two week period.

  • The tornado that hit the Oklahoma City area last week was rated an EF5 with a width of 2.6 miles, the widest tornado ever recorded.

  • The FBI is asking for help solving the kidnapping of a Marine, Armando Torres III, at this father’s ranch in Mexico. The kidnappers took his father, Armando Torres II, and his uncle, Salvador Torres, at the same time. The family reports that drug cartels have been trying to acquire the ranch due to its proximity to the U.S. border.

  • Sarah Hoyt on compromising with the Left: “There can be no center between the Stalinists who would enslave, silence and murder all who disagree with them and those who wish to keep a maximum of freedom, responsibility and power in the individual. The center does not move just because one side gets more and more extreme. And the center holds no special virtue anyway.”

  • Claire Berlinski filed a report from Turkey that includes these observations of the local media: “Almost as chillingly, the muzzled and gutless Turkish media downplayed the events. The main source of news here was Twitter. Precisely as BBC World was showing shocking scenes of the protests, Turkey’s TV24 was featuring a lecture from Erdo─čan about the dangers of smoking. While Taksim burned, NTV aired a cooking show, and another channel featured an incisive documentary about liposuction.”

  • Two Tibetan monks were sentenced to three years in prison for leading prayers for a self-immolator, Wangchen Norbu. The two monks, Tsundue and Gedun Tsultrim, are both from the Bido Monastery.