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Vets Vow to Sink 'Barricade' Burwell:

President Obama is asking the U.S. Senate to confirm Sylvia Mathews Murwell as the next leader of the Department of Health and Human Services, but at least one veterans organization is vowing to do everything it can to block her path to the president's cabinet. Burwell is currently directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). During October's partial government shutdown, Burwell made the call for the National Park Service to shutter it's public attractions, including open air memorials in Washington such as the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. That decision made the World War II Memorial a flash point of controversy during the shutdown, as elderly veterans coming to the nation's capital on Honor Flights were turned away by barricades. Members of Congress and veterans groups soon began removing the barricades to allow veterans access to their memorials. Eventually, the government allowed World War II veterans into their memorial, but the general public was left out. The Vietnam and Korean memorials were closed to everyone. The only reason they reversed themselves (on the World War II Memorial) is because there was a public outcry, said Special Operations Speaks Political Director Larry Ward, whose group was actively involved in the Million Vet March demanding the memorials be re-opened. The fact that there were flights coming in with 90-year-old men who served our country and saved the world, the Greatest Generation, were coming in to see the World War II Memorial, probably for the last time that they could in their lives, and they were turned away for political spite. It's one of the most reprehensible acts any commander-in-chief or any bureau head like, Sylvia 'Barricade' Burwell, has ever done in the history of this country. Ward says the whole episode shows the depths to which the Obama administration would sink to win a political debate, and whether Burwell or President Obama is ultimately to blame doesn't really matter. The blame at the time went to the president, and rightly so. (The orders) probably came from on high. The fact of the matter is she was in charge of making the call. It might have been her idea. We do know that the barricades went up minutes after the government shut down so it was planned and it was reprehensible and idiotic. Let's call it for what it is, said Ward. There was nothing to be gained by shutting down open-air memorials. The government spent more money shutting them down and guarding them than they would have if they had just left them open and let our veterans go to their memorials, said Ward. According to Ward, whether Burwell ordered the memorial shut on her own volition or was simply following orders, she is unfit for higher office either way. She either was a lot of malcontent, has a lot of evil inside her or she's just an Obamabot. Either way, we don't want that person representing the nation's health care. We need somebody who can stand on their own and make decisions that affect the entire country's health and well being, not someone who is going to either have political payback for spite or for whatever reasons that they put these barricades up or just follow orders as the king on high declares, said Ward. While the exact strategy is being worked out, Ward says Special Operations Speaks is planning an aggressive opposition to the Burwell nomination. Absolutely, and you'll hear this first, said Ward. We're planning on hosting a human barricade in front of the Senate at the time of her confirmation hearings. Ward adds that military veterans are very reticent to get active in politics but the members of Special Operations Speaks feel they have no choice. They've gotten political with this administration because of the reprehensible behavior they have towards our military and our veterans. If need be, we'll rip down barricades every single day and throw them at the White House the way we did at the Million Vet March, said Ward.

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Time for the Fair Tax?:

The federal tax code is a complex, unintelligible mess and America needs to embrace the simplicity of a national consumption tax known as the Fair Tax, according to Georgia Rep. Tom Price, who is just one of many conservatives touting the idea as Americans rush to meet today's federal income tax deadline. PROBLEM: folks sacrificing precious time, money and peace of mind on a broken complex tax code. SOLUTION: the #FairTax, tweeted Price on Tuesday. Fellow Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston also tweeted support for the Fair Tax and the abolishing of the IRS. Price says the first thing Americans need to recognize is that our current tax system is a disaster. Our current system actually punishes the things that we say that we want as a society. We say we want hard work. We say we want success. We say we want entrepreneurs, risk taking, investment and all those kinds of things. yet our tax system punishes every single one of them. So many of us believe that we need think more fundamentally and more creatively about it and come up with a tax system that doesn't just massage what we currently have but puts in place a system that actually rewards those things, said Price. Fair Tax supporters call for the income tax and payroll taxes to be eliminated and replaced with a national sales or consumption tax in a move that would be revenue neutral and clear out all the confusion and bureaucracy from the system. The IRS goes away. All the taxes related to income at both the business and the individual level go away and we would have a national retail sales tax that would replace that, said Price. It would bring in the same amount of money, but what it would do is reinvigorate the economy and get the economy rolling in a big, big way because it would encourage jobs to come back from overseas. It would encourage investment, encourage savings, encourage entrepreneurship, encourage hard work and reward success in big, big ways. Based on current consumption and levels and national revenue figures, the Fair Tax would be roughly in the 20-23 percent range. Price says that may seem steep but it's actually a good deal when you take out income taxes and consider one other important fact. Each and every one of us pays right now about a 23 percent tax in every single good or service that we purchase, but you don't know about it. It's embedded in the system. For example, businesses add into the price of their product an amount that's about equal to 23 percent of the cost of the product to cover their taxes. Businesses don't pay taxes. The consumers that use the businesses do, said Price, who says once those business taxes go away, the retail prices will go down and we would pay about the same as we do now once the Fair Tax was applied. Price says one caveat to installing a Fair Tax is not just the scrapping of the federal income tax but to pass a new constitutional amendment forbidding an income tax. He says otherwise the Fair Tax could become a nightmare. What we don't want is both a consumption tax and an income tax. That's the worst of both world's. So when you hear people talking about a Value Added Tax (VAT), that's a consumption tax as well but it is in addition to income tax. That would be a terrible prospect, because then you give the federal government even more money to expand the bureaucracy and create an ever-larger federal government, said Price. The most common Democratic complaint about the Fair Tax is that the rich and poor would pay the exact same percentage in taxes for the same items. Price says that worry is unfounded. The way the current bill solves that is to provide everybody with what's called a prebate, so the amount of monies that are felt to be needed for essential services like food, clothing and shelter, one would get a prebate to cover the cost of the Fair Tax on those items. Everybody gets it, so that those at the lower end of the economic spectrum are actually benefited to a greater degree under the Fair Tax than they currently are, said Price. In late February, House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp introduced his version of tax reform that includes fewer tax brackets and an attempted simplification of the system through closing loopholes. Price says it's a step in the right direction towards more of a flat tax system but doesn't go far enough. There is a House bill calling for the adoption of the Fair Tax, HR 25, but Price says there's not nearly enough backing, even among Republican leaders and members, to advance the resolution right now.

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Putin Pushes the Envelope:

Vladimir Putin wants all of Ukraine and the big question is whether he even be satisfied with that, according to former Reagan administration Pentagon official Frank Gaffney. Gaffney, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy under President Reagan, is now president of the Center for Security Policy. He says Putin is probing to see just how far he can go and is getting virtually no resistance from the United States. Tension in Ukraine are on the rise again, with increasing reports of pro-Russian militants seizing police stations and other government buildings in eastern Ukraine, a region known to be sympathetic to Moscow. Experts fear the Russians are stoking an artificial movement in that part of the country designed to trigger additional independence votes and eventual assimilation by Russia. Gaffney says Putin's strategy goes far beyond a little regional nibbling. The question is does he really want more than the whole thing of Ukraine. The think the answer to that is probably yes. I think he will insist upon, at the very minimum, that all of Ukraine once again is subject to Russian dominion, as it was under the previous President Yanukovych. Whether his appetite extends beyond that to Trans-Dniester (Moldova) or to Latvia and Estonia or perhaps other former Soviet republics [that] have Russian populations is anybody's guess, said Gaffney. But I think that the heavy betting should be on he's going to continue to go for as much as he can because he senses no real opposition from either the administration here in Washington or from the Europeans, he said. The Obama administration says the president will likely speak to Putin soon about the latest instigation of unrest in Ukraine. I can assure you that Russia's further provocations and transgressions will come with a cost, said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. Gaffney says that kind of response will yield little to nothing. This isn't the first time that that's been said, by the president, by Secretary of State John Kerry, let alone by the White House press spokesman. I think it's been completely discounted by Vladmir Putin because he knows our capacity to impose greater costs is considerably limited by both the condition of our own military, our economy, not least our leadership, and because we've failed to take any appreciable steps to date , said Gaffney. The extent of our support for Ukraine to this point has been to provide meals ready to eat to a country ready to be eaten. This is hardly a disincentive to Vladimir Putin and I think he's behaving accordingly, said Gaffney. The Obama administration is also responding to news that a Russian warplane recently buzzed an American Navy ship in the region, with Carney calling it provocative and unprofessional. This is the kind of thing that can lead to conflagrations because one suddenly one finds that the response is mandatory and no longer elective. I'm worried that the president's failure, as is so often the case, and this is what the lessons of history teach us, things get worse the longer you defer acting on them, said Gaffney. Gaffney further asserts that the brewing tension with the Russians is another facet of the larger battle for freedom in the world. I believe the war we're in is best thought of as the war for the free world and whether the assaults against the free world by the Islamists or by the Chinese or by the Russians or by Hugo Chavez and his successors or anybody else, to think that it doesn't matter to U.S. security when other parts of the free world or aspirants to being part of it are lopped off at the hands of thugs who have very bad intentions toward us as well is the worst sort of shortsightedness. I shows an ignorance of the hard lessons of history that should cause all of us to realize that we are poorly led and it is exposing us to great dangers, said Gaffney.

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Ukraine Parts Keep Fallin' to the Reds:

President Obama has been accused of a weak response to the Russian annexation of Crimea. Now, the Capitol Steps provide us an exclusive look inside Obama's deliberations in their new parody, Ukarine Parts Keep Fallin' to the Reds.

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Peeling Back the Layers of the IRS Scandal:

Former IRS official Lois Lerner may soon be facing a contempt of Congress citation and even criminal prosecution for her role in directing unlawful scrutiny towards conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status, but the biggest bombshell of the week is the revelation that Lerner 19s office shared sensitive tax information with the top Democrat on the committee investigating the scandal. However, the president of the grassroots organization at the center of this alleged collusion says even this development is only one step in discovering just how high this goes in the Obama administration. This week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed an email chain showing the IRS passed along confidential information from True the Vote to the office of Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. Cummings then launched his own investigation of the group through his position on the committee, even though the committee cannot lawfully investigate a private organization. True the Vote President Catherine Englebrecht says this episode is further proof of how corrupt our government is becoming. 1cIt 19s like the wild wild west up there in D.C. Anything goes. It 19s open season on any group that is considered to be ideologically opposed to the politics of the administration. The rules don 19t matter. The ends justify the means in their minds, 1d said Englebrecht. Englebrecht says it is difficult to pinpoint when Cummings launched his scrutiny into her group, but the first contact she received from him came in September 2012. 1cIt was so bizarre. When this all started, it was in the throes of the final weeks before the 2012 election when True the Vote was at its peak of operations, helping to train citizens and getting them ready to serve inside of the polls for the elections, 1d said Englebrecht. 1dOut of nowhere, we go this letter from Elijah Cummings. He asserted that we were engaging in criminal activity and that he was going to open an investigation and he was subpoenaing all of our documents. These letters came to us on the letterhead of the Committee for House Oversight and Government Reform. His was the only signature on it, but the letter itself carried with it what felt to be a pretty weighty backing. 1d True the Vote is dedicated to making sure that only those who should be voting are casting ballots in an election. The group is actively working to get states to update their voter rolls and purge the names of people who died or moved. It also advocates for voters to be required to present a photo ID, an idea vigorously opposed by the Obama administration and other Democrats who liken the requirement to Jim Crow era restrictions on voting. Given True the Vote 19s ambitious work leading up to a very close presidential election, Englebrecht does not believe the timing of the letter was coincidental. 1cI do think they are concerned about any organization that is going to try and take a hard look at the legitimacy of elections and legitimacy of process. Eighty-plus percent of Americans favor photo voter identification, but the administration is going state by state and suing states that are trying to implement these very common sense measures to make sure that elections are free and fair for everyone, regardless of political party affiliation, 1d said Englebrecht. 1cIt begs the question why. Why is there such a push against bringing a process that meets with standards of others. We 19re the only industrialized country in the world that doesn 19t use photo voter identification as its standard and it makes you wonder why, 1d she said. Englebrecht says the latest discoveries go a long way to explain why congressional Democrats quickly shifted from outrage over the IRS scandal to outrage that Republicans still want answers. 1cElijah Cummings, months and months and months ago, went on television and said, 18Case closed. There 19s nothing to see here, people. Keep moving. 19 Our own president came out and said there 19s not a smidgen of truth to any of this. It 19s a sad day, but it 19s where you are that you can 19t believe the hype, 1d said Englebrecht. 1dThey will say and do anything to obfuscate, to put out a smokescreen to keep people from recognizing what really is happening. 1d Englebrecht is pleased with the House actions of the past week that will likely lead to a contempt of Congress citation against Lois Lerner and possibly a federal prosecution, but she quickly cautions that this scandal still goes much higher than anyone implicated thus far. 1cIt 19s a step in the right direction but it 19s only a step. I think that we 19ve got to look at the actions of Elijah Cummings and the actions of Lois Lerner, actions taken by two people in a much bigger organized effort. I think we 19ve got to keep the push on no matter how deep and ugly this rabbit hole is. We have got to be steeled enough and firm enough in our resolve to follow it wherever it leads. I think it is going to lead to the highest offices in the land, 1d said Englebrecht. The government did more than launch investigations and saddle Englebrecht with paperwork. She says federal agencies began showing up to inspect her private manufacturing business with great regularity. 1cOver the course of the last three years, we 19ve been visited by a whole alphabet soup of agencies, from the FBI to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, OSHA. There 19s a Texas branch of the EPA, an environmental group that came out and visited and certainly the IRS. So we 19ve had our fair share of agency interest, 1d said Englebrecht. She admits each government agency had a plausible reason for its visit and her company fully complied with all of the inspections. However, Englebrecht says once again the timing of all this cannot be an accident. 1cNothing changed in our business. We 19d been in business to that point for 16 years and had never seen any government agency take an interest in us. Then I filed for non-profit exemption. All of sudden, over a period of three years, we have now, at last count, 25 either audits or investigations or inquiries from five different government agencies, 1d said Englebrecht. 1dAt some point you have to ask yourself what is the statistical probability that none of this is connected? I just don 19t think you can make the case. Now we are seeing, in fact, that we know at least the executive branch and the legislative branch were colluding to single us out. 1d Despite the frustration suffered through her business and her political activism, Englebrecht says this saga can serve as an alarming wake-up call to people who cannot believe our own government would treat a law-abiding citizen this way. 1cBecause of the good nature of Americans, it 19s our natural inclination to not even be able to wrap our heads around the thought that citizens might be being targeted. That stands in direct contrast to everything this country represents. I 19m here to tell you it is happening. It is happening and we 19ve got to keep pushing for the truth, 1d she said. 1dThere are a lot of layers to peel back. Elijah Cummings is only a very small supporting character to a much bigger production. 1d

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Targeting True the Vote:

The House Oversight and Government Reform voted to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress Thursday, but Lerner's alleged collusion with the top Democrat on the committee to harass conservative grassroots organizations appears to be an even bigger revelation of possible illegal activity. The majority staff of the committee released emails indicating that Lerner shared confidential tax information of of at least one right-leaning organization with the staff of Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the panel. The group in question is True the Vote, an organization dedicated to ensuring fair elections through updating voter rolls, mandatory photo identification at the polls and other measures. True the Vote attorney Cleta Mitchell says the committee discovered through Lerner's emails that she was not only targeting conservative groups but violating the law in sharing information with Cummings staffers. What they found was that she was indeed actively involved in targeting and directing targeting toward specific organizations. The one yesterday that the Ways & Means Committee revealed specific information about was the American Crossroads organization founded by Karl Rove. Whether you agree or disagree with what Karl Rove's organization has done, I certainly don't think that any body thinks it's a good idea for the head of the IRS exempt organizations unit to be conspiring to figure out how to deprive the organization of its right to fair consideration and not be pulled out of the pack and subjected to specialized scrutiny from people who disagree with what the organization is doing, said Mitchell. Mitchell then detailed how True the Vote was mistreated by Lerner and Cummings. The House Oversight Committee found that Elijah Cummings and his staff were communicating with Lois Lerner and her subordinates to target my client. This is after Elijah Cummings said he had absolutely done nothing of the sort. Well, yes he did do that, said Mitchell. Elijah Cummings' staff told Lois Lerner and her staff that (Cummings staffers) had opened an investigation into True the Vote. Well, let's think about that for a minute. They have no authority to investigate True the Vote. The jurisdiction of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is federal agencies. It isn't private organizations that have really had no interaction with the federal government other than to file for exempt status, said Mitchell. Representative Cummings then proceeded to send three separate exhaustive, burdensome, intrusive, oppressive letters to True the Vote demanding all kinds of information which, curiously enough, mirrored the questions that the IRS had propounded to True the Vote a few months earlier, said Mitchell. The only problem with that is that set of questions and True the Vote's responses are not public documents. They should have had no access to those documents. We don't know if the IRS turned those over to the Cummings staff or not but it does seem sort of odd that they would be asking the identical questions. On February 6, Mitchell filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (ICE) on behalf of True the Vote over the improper sharing of confidential tax information. Mitchell says the latest revelations are triggering a supplemental request for ICE to question Cummings and his staff members about their actions with respect to the recently uncovered emails. Mitchell says there is no paper trail at this point that takes this investigation into the White House, but Mitchell says President Obama clearly inspired the mistreatment of conservative groups with his public comments. Let's not forget where this IRS scandal began. People say, 'Oh, you're looking for a smoking gun and there's no smoking gun.' Yeah, there's a smoking gun. There are about a dozen smoking guns. They're just laying all over the streets of Washington, D.C. You had the President of the United States going around the country giving speeches attacking private citizens groups and demanding that something be done about them. And why should something be dome about them? Because they disagree with him, said Mitchell. Then you had 31 House members and nine senators, all Democrats, writing to the IRS and demanding the IRS 'do something' to crack down on these conservative groups, she said. Mitchell believes Democrats put a lot of pressure on the IRS to treat grassroots organizations unfairly, but she said IRS officials had the chance to follow the law but instead went along with a political agenda. They should have said, 'We are not allowed by law to play partisan and party politics. We can't take sides. We're not political appointees. We're career employees. We are prohibited from engaging in political activity. We're going to do our jobs and follow our procedures and we're not going to do the bidding of the Democratic Party.' But that isn't what they did. They did just the opposite. And I think that's the thing that should take everybody's breath away, said Mitchell. In addition to the contempt citation issued by the House Oversight and Government Reform on Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday urged the Justice Department to launch a full investigation and prosecution of Lerner. Mitchell says it will be interesting to see if the DOJ takes any of this seriously. They handed it to the investigators on a silver platter. Presumably, the DOJ investigators had access to Lois Lerner's emails since day one. Have they done anything with any of this? said Mitchell. So far Eric Holder has been the most political attorney general, probably in the history of the United States and sees his job not a the chief law enforcement officer but as the chief consigliere for the Obama administration's philosophical agenda, said Mitchell.

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'We Need More Fight':

One of Wisconsin's most conservative state lawmakers is running for Congress against an incumbent Republican, saying it's time for the GOP to act more urgently to reduce government dependency and speak up more loudly for the principles they believe in. State Sen. Glenn Grothman is a staunch ally of Gov. Scott Walker, most notably in the 2011 efforts to have union members contribute more to their own benefit plans and have the state reform the collective bargaining process. The debate triggered huge protests at the State Capitol in Madison and even prompted the Democratic state senators to leave the state in an effort to stop the legislation. The bills ultimately passed and survived a court challenge. Democrats and liberal activists then launched recall efforts against Gov. Walker and several GOP state senators, including Grothman. Walker, Grothman and most Republicans won their recall races, although a small number of GOP members were voted out of office. Now, Grothman is challenging sitting Republican Rep. Tom Petri, who was first elected in 1978 and is running for a 19th term in the House. Grothman says it's time time for Republicans to have a much greater sense of urgency in Washington if the U.S. wants to avoid the financial abyss. Like a lot of people, I've been dissatisfied with what's going on in Washington and I feel the Republicans haven't been doing an articulate enough job of explaining to the public what has to be done. Not just the huge deficit, which is going to put our children and grandchildren deeply in debt forever, but I'm particularly concerned about the culture of dependency, said Grothman. The number of people on food stamps, the number of people on low-income housing, the number of people on disability just keeps spiraling out of control. Quite frankly, it was spiraling out of control when Republicans were in charge. Our country is going to be sunk permanently if that becomes the conventional lifestyle in America, he said. Grothman says he also wants to the federal government butt out of many transportation decisions and other local and state issues and he believes Rep. Petri has not been vocal enough in standing up for the people of Wisconsin and for local leaders. Congressman Petri is a moderate. He's perceived to be for more government spending. He's certainly an advocate for more government involvement in education, and that's a little bit disappointing as well, said Grothman, noting Petri's support for No Child Left Behind during the early months of the George W. Bush administration. Petri holds a lifetime rating of 77 out of 100 from the American Conservative Union. Club for Growth puts him at 73. Heritage Action gives the lowest rating at 64. Votes that hurt Petri in the scores during 2013 include support for the Farm Bill and the Ryan-Murray budget deal. He also voted against a conservative plan that promised to balance the budget within four years. In an earlier Congress, he also backed the Cash for Clunkers program. However, the congressman has also cast many votes opposing the Obama agenda in recent years on issues ranging from the stimulus to Obamacare to cap and trade and lifting the ban on gays serving in the military. Petri also opposed the Dodd-Frank financial sector regulatory legislation, the 2008 Wall Street bailout known as TARP and the DREAM Act. He voted in favor of lifting offshore drilling restrictions and for removing federal funds for Planned Parenthood. Asked specifically about Petri's opposition to the stimulus and Obamacare, Grothman says that was good but not enough. Well, he voted with the other Republicans on those but l think we need a little more fight in the Republican Party. When I get around the district, I do sense dissatisfaction there. I'm going to have to rely on that because Congressman Petri has about a million dollars in the bank. So when I start as a challenger with nothing and he's got a million dollars, I'm obviously the underdog and it's going to be an uphill climb, said Grothman. Grothman was first elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2005 and now serves as the assistant majority leader. He says anyone who has followed his service in Madison will know exactly how he would approach his job in Washington if he is elected to Congress, I've had a long track record of probably being the most outspoken conservative in the Republican State Senate and maybe the whole legislature, said Grothman, who says the national GOP could take a lesson on political determination from how Wisconsin Republicans acted in the face of fierce political and media opposition during the debates over organized labor benefits and collective bargaining. In Madison, our legislators did draw a line in the sand and they weren't afraid to do it. We took Wisconsin from being a state deeply in debt to a state that's running surpluses and cutting taxes. If we're going to turn around Washington, we need the same sort of courage and outspoken plain talking that we had in Madison, said Grothman, who says he would embrace the label of a tea party candidate in the race. The Republican primary is set for August 12. In addition to his money advantage, Petri has faced few competitive challengers. His 62 percent of the vote in 2012 was his tightest race in 20 years and only twice has he won by less than 10 points. Grothman recognizes the challenges but says money isn't the only factor in this campaign. We're just going to have to rely on the grassroots. To a certain extent, you can make up for a lack of money with a lot of volunteers, going door-to-door (and) letters to the editor. But obviously I'm going to have to rely on the people who have encouraged me to run to follow up with some checks as well, said Grothman. 2010 was a banner year for conservatives in Wisconsin. In addition to Walker's win, Republicans won control of both chambers of the legislature and businessman Ron Johnson easily defeated incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Russ Feingold. Grothman believes the 2014 election results will look very similar. I think it's going to be another year like 2010. Due to Barack Obama and Obamacare, I think the public is very dissatisfied with the Democrats and I think Democrats are kind of dispirited with their own candidates, said Grothman.

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The Roadmap to Conservative Control:

Longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie says despite a century of conservatives mostly being in the backseat of the Republican Party, they can regain control of the party and the key levers of power in the next two election cycles if they take advantage of the opportunity. A key tactic in that plan could well be the conservative embrace of Libertarians, including a slot on the national ticket for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Viguerie is the pioneer of direct mail political marketing and still runs his American Target Advertising firm. He is also chairman of ConservativeHQ.com and author of the new book, Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It. In his book, Viguerie believes the GOP is ripe for big pickups this year and possibly in 2016, but he says the only way to take advantage of the opportunity is by having the right candidates on the ballot. I paraphrase James Carville from 1992, who said over and over and over to Democrats, 'It's the economy, stupid. It's the economy, stupid.' So my paraphrase of that to conservatives, particularly, tea party conservatives, is 'It's the primaries, stupid. It's the primaries,' he said. We can see that a wave is building out there that is going to sweep a lot of Democrats out of office and it could be a wave of tsunami proportions. But if all that happens is when this wave sweeps Democrats out in this election, if it just brings in more big government Republicans ... we will have wasted the opportunity of a lifetime, said Viguerie, who noted candidates can still file in many federal, state and local races around the country. But while Viguerie says conservatives can accomplish their goals in short order, they need to approach the situation in the right way in order to succeed. Viguerie claims winning voters to your side essentially requires the same process as any good marketing campaign. His firm follows an approach known as Viguerie's Four Horsemen, which highlights the marketing tenets of position, differentiation, benefits and brand. The position is nothing more than a hole in the marketplace. What hole in the marketplace can you occupy? Differentiation is what you do publicly to differentiate yourself from everybody else out there. The third is benefit. What benefit do you bring to the voters if they vote for you. Brand is a culmination of the first three. It's what makes you singular, what makes you unique, said Viguerie. But for any marketing message to be effective, it has to be delivered effectively. Viguerie admits that in the wake of Ronald Reagan, conservatives have struggled to find people who can articulate their vision well. It's been a mystery as to why for the last 50 years that I've been involved in politics at the national level, why conservatives have had such few leaders. We've had some spokesmen but very leaders other than Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and a few others. For whatever reason, things are changing now in recent years, in large extent due to the arrival of the tea party. I think our future rests heavily on the shoulders of the tea party, said Viguerie. Viguerie believes Republicans cannot win national elections against Democrats only on the traditional Republican base issues of the economy, national defense and social conservatism. He says tea party activists can take the movement to the next level and attract more voters than the party has in the past. Within that movement, Viguerie sees Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee as very effective spokesmen for conservatism. He believes Governors Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Mike Pence have the same ability to explain that vision from the state level. But what message actually unifies conservatives? With different factions of the GOP at odds over the U.S. role in the world, others debating whether defending traditional marriage is still a winning issue and all sorts of economic visions being suggested, what exactly brings them all together? Viguerie says it's time to welcome Libertarians to the fight. Recently the Libertarians have been growing in strength and we see that represented best politically by Ron Paul and now his son, Rand Paul. I think it's time for conservatives to reach out to Libertarians and see if we can't reach some common ground, he said. That common ground, according to Viguerie, may well be a plum spot on the 2016 GOP ticket for Sen. Paul. I think that it's entirely possible that Rand Paul will be on the Republican ticket, either as president or vice president in 2016. If you bring the three legs of the Reagan coalition together, plus the tea party and then are able to combine it with the LIbertarians, you've got almost an unbeatable coalition for the 2016 election, said Viguerie.

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The Fight for the GOP Soul:

Limited government conservatives have battled big government Republicans for control of the party for more than a century, and after losing most of the internal battles conservatives need to control the party and win elections soon if the nation is to be saved. That's the contention laid out by conservative icon Richard Viguerie in his new book, Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It. Viguerie changed the political marketing landscape forever by pioneering direct mail for political purposes. He is now the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com. Viguerie minces few words in his book or in his analysis. When asked to explain the difference between conservatives and the GOP establishment, Viguerie's answer landed nowhere near conventional wisdom. He claims that despite the posturing and rhetoric we see from Republican Party leaders, there's actually a wider gulf between the GOP leadership and grassroots conservatives than between the establishment Republicans and Democrats. There's not a great deal of difference between an establishment Republican, a big government Republican, and a Democrat. They both believe in growing government. Democrats believe in growing government faster than the establishment Republicans. People like John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, George Bush, Karl Rove all have been significantly involved in significantly growing government, said Viguerie. The principled, limited government, constitutional conservatives believe in reducing significantly the size of government. Viguerie asserts the ongoing battle for control of the GOP started in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt challenged Republican President William Howard Taft and split the vote in a way that allowed progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win the White House with less than 42 percent of the vote. Conservatives have been battling that wing of the party ever since but they haven't known that they have done it and you're likely to lose any war you don't know you're engaged in, said Viguerie. According to Viguerie, other Republicans of that era, such as William Howard Taft and later Calvin Coolidge, were limited government conservatives, but he says Theodore Roosevelt altered the GOP outlook on the role of government permanently. The establishment of the Republican Party bought into the progressive ideas of growing government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more. They would talk a different game to the grassroots, but as they governed, they governed in cooperation with the Democrats to grow government, said Viguerie. For the last 100-plus years, the Republican establishment is much more comfortable with growing government than they are keeping government the size it is much less reducing it. While Viguerie is passionate about his cause, he freely admits that conservatives have mostly lost the battle for the GOP over the past century. He says with the exceptions of Ronald Reagan's two landslide wins, the 1994 Republican Revolution and the 2010 tea party uprising, the establishment has dominated the Republican Party. And he says the results are devastating. We're about to lose our country. We have massive debt. We're engaged in one no-win war after the other. America is more divided and without strong leadership than anytime in our country's history. We're in very perilous times because we've not had good constitutional leaders for a long time, he said. Viguerie accuses Republican leaders of lacking backbone for tough fights against Democrats and for simply coming to accept the growth of government. He also believes too many are making the wrong decisions in a futile attempt to be liked by the press. They certainly want to please the mainstream media. The mainstream media is advocating bigger government and the reduction of liberty and freedom. The effect has been growing government of any number of reasons, but we can say for certain they do not believe in increasing liberty for the citizens of this country, said Viguerie. Despite that gloomy assessment of politics past and present, Viguerie says he he very bullish on conservatives rising soon and rescuing the U.S. from its present course. A lot of conservatives are discouraged now but they should not be. I think within three years conservatives can take over the Republican Party and govern America. I was there after (Arizona Sen. Barry) Goldwater's loss in 1964 and after (President Richard) Nixon's resignation in 1974, when it was darkness for conservatives of a biblical proportion, said Viguerie. We have assets that we didn't have back in those days. we didn't have talk radio, the internet, cable television. We didn't have people like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and others leading us out there like Scott Walker and Mike Pence. This is a very exciting time for us. I'm very excited about the future, he said.

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Supremes Stay Out of Religious Freedom Case:

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to hear the appeal of a New Mexico photographer sued by a homosexual couple after she refused to take pictures at their commitment ceremony because of her religious convictions. The case centered on Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin and their business, Elane Photgraphy. In 2006, they refused to work at the commitment ceremony of Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth. The lesbian couple was able to find another photographer but still filed a discrimination grievance against Elane Photography with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. The Huguenins lost at every level of the court fight, and Monday that defeat became final. Attorney Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represented Elane Photography in the case. He says the court's decision not to hear the case is disappointing but he sees a silver lining. This is not the same thing as the court summarily affirming the decision below. All that means is that the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case. They did mull this over for three extra times at their conference, which is encouraging in a slight way that it means the justices took this case seriously, gave it a lot of extra consideration but decided, ultimately, not to hear the case, said Lorence. There will be other cases coming through the pipeline. Alliance Defending Freedom already has some in the pipeline, the cake baker in Colorado, the florist in Washington state, said Lorence. This does not set a nationwide precedent. And whether people can be forced to create expression that they don't agree with or be punished by the government, that is still a general constitutional principle that ADF will be enforcing and arguing in courts around the land. The court never offers an explanation for refusing to hear a case and Lorence says he cannot be certain why his clients won't get a hearing at the highest court in the land. However, he says the court's history suggests it's waiting for the issue to get bigger before wading into this aspect of the debate over the proper definition of marriage. They do have a general habit of waiting for an issue to percolate in the lower courts and not necessarily take the first one but take the third or the fourth one or something like that, said Lorence. Those who support redefining marriage to include same-sex couples may take the wrong signal from this and be emboldened to punish more employers or professionals or small business owners or graduate students or others for their views that marriage is only for one man and one woman. Lorence admits court decisions all across America have trended in favor of same-sex marriage and similar causes in recent months. He says regardless of how the nation may be trending on the larger issue of marriage, the rights of his clients and others to hold their beliefs should be an issue all Americans respect. I and many other Americans believe that the best public policy and social values to promote and maximize human flourishing is to define marriage as one man and one woman. Obviously, there is a growing number of people that disagree with that. But what I hope we all as American can agree on is that people should not be censored or punished or held up to public humiliation for having a view that is not supported by this new ascending orthodoxy, said Lorence, who also fears a very slippery slope in the wake of the frustrations endured by his clients and other business leaders who express support for traditional marriage. Americans need to stand up and just say, 'This has gone too far, that we can have reasonable debates without demonizing and ostracizing the losers of the debate or people that are on a side that the courts and others are not supporting right now,' said Lorence. I had a case in Maine, where a social worker spoke out in a political campaign in support of marriage. He had complaints filed that he should lose his professional license as a social worker because of his position on marriage. I think the imagination of those zealots on the other side knows no boundaries and they will be pushing this to ostracize and marginalize people as much as possible, he said. The Mozilla CEO case is another example of it, even though it wasn't (a legal case). We see increasing effort to hound people out of public life and put them into exile on the outskirts of society. As Americans we need to be standing up and saying, 'This is not what our first amendment allows people to do,' said Lorence. So what happens for Elane Photography now that its loss in the lower courts officially stands? Lorence says Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin are still trying to figure that out. They are just every day Americans who were living their lives and making decisions to the best of their ability to make money and also to protect their conscience. This case has obviously shoved them into the limelight. How they go about their business now they are assessing. Obviously they're going to be a target for others who want to humiliate them or make them take pictures that they don't want to because of this court order, said Lorence. They're just assessing right now what next steps they should do and grieving over the fact that the Supreme Court unfortunately step in to vindicate their first amendment rights, he said.

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