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A new Gallup poll finds 48% of Americans say they agree more with the
unions in state disputes over collective bargaining for public employees, while 39% agree more with the governors.

Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

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According to America Online, Andrew Breitbart will no longer be published on the AOL/Huffington Post front page due to a policy (no one knew about) that AOL/HuffPo spokesman Mario Ruiz dropped completely out of nowhere on March 24. Among other things, Breitbart called 9/11 truther Van Jones a “commie punk” during an interview with the Daily Caller and now, according to Ruiz, AOL suddenly has a policy prohibiting front page placement on the Huffington Post whenever one of their contributors engages in what they consider to be ad hominem … even if it’s not on the Huffington Post.

Fine. I totally disagree with the policy, but we live in a free country and AOL can choose to run their business however they like. There could be a problem, though, if what the publicly traded AOL is really up to here is a form of ideological blacklisting. Will only Breitbart be held to this standard? Will only conservatives? Or will every HuffPo contributor who engages in ad hominem be forced to sit in the back of the blog? Which brings me to …

All together now: How do you solve a problem like Bill Maher?

First, let’s back up just a bit.

Since AOL dropped this “Back of the Blog” policy on Breitbart, we and many others have had no problem gathering together glaring examples of AOL/HuffPo front page authors, not only participating in the worst kind of ad hominem elsewhere, but also — incredibly! — on the front page of the Huffington Post. Which means that only two possibilities exist for what’s going on here. Either 9/11 truther Van Jones has convinced AOL to single out individuals he doesn’t like for “Back of the Blog” discrimination, or he convinced AOL to start a brand new rule.

Which brings us back to Mr. Maher …

Maher is a front page contributor to AOL/Huffpo and has been for quite some time. Ad hominem is not only the comedian’s weapon of choice, he’s famous for it. And yet, as far as we know, there has been no decision made by Van Jones to force AOL to take away Bill Maher’s front page privileges. To be fair, though, if the AOL rule regarding ad hominem is a new rule and not retroactive, this makes perfect sense. Which brings me to the tick-tock.

This is the statement HuffPo’s Mario Ruiz made on March 24:

Andrew Brietbart’s false ad hominem attack on Van Jones in The Daily Caller violates the tenets of debate and civil discourse we have strived for since the day we launched. As a result, we will no longer feature his posts on the front page.

And this is the statement Bill Maher made three days later on March 27:

Sarah Palin’s a “cunt.”

There are maybe three words in the English language worse than “cunt,” and let me assure you, Breitbart didn’t come close to the Top 100 while pushing back against Van Jones’ crusade to have him silenced. So…

One more time! How do you solve a problem like Bill Maher?

In an attempt to get that very question answered, our friends at NewsBusters have sent no fewer than four emails to Arianna Huffington and other various editors asking how they intend to handle the Maher matter. Thus far there hasn’t been any kind of a response.

Let me close by being as clear as I possibly can about this issue. In no way do I, Andrew Breitbart, or anyone alse here at the BIGS want Bill Maher or anyone punished or shoved to the “Back of the Blog” for calling Sarah Palin or anyone anything. This is about AOL and ideological discrimination. This is about whether or not AOL’s decided to be a serious news outlet or just another polarizing left-wing attack machine with this appalling man as their Editorial Director (please do click that link).

The only smart move for AOL is to overrule Arianna’s Huffington’s thoughtlessly dumb knee-jerk policy. The only other choice they have is to either get wrapped endlessly around the axle of an unmanageable policy or prove to the whole wide world that they really are ideological bigots.

Maybe we should ask them? You can do just that here and here.

Big Journalism

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Our guest blogger is Heather Boushey, Senior Economist at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. You can follow her on Twitter at @HBoushey

While job gains are improving, it remains exceptionally challenging for the unemployed to find work. There are nearly five job seekers for every opening available and, as a result, in March, the share of the unemployed who are long-term unemployed—out of work and searching for a new job for at least six months—ticked back up 45.5 percent, just a tenth of a percent below the series high Click here for a larger image:

The problem is no longer primarily lay-offs, but a lack of robust hiring. The BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows that the rate of lay-offs and discharges has down, but, over the past year, the rate of hiring has not improved. Combined with sharply lower voluntary quit rates compared to before the Great Recession, for job seekers, it looks like the labor market is calcifying.

This of course means that unemployment insurance benefits remain critical for families, as well as the economy overall. Yet, states are cutting unemployment benefits. This week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed into law a bill that, beginning in 2012, will reduce Michigan’s unemployment benefits to 20 weeks, from 26 weeks; 26 weeks is the standard in every other state. Florida is poised to follow suit, as a similar bill has passed in the Florida House. Bills are also pending in Arkansas and Indiana. Missouri has blocked federal aid to the unemployed, which will lead to elimination of benefits for more than 10,000 workers next week.

This is a reckless course of action. The unemployment insurance system acts “counter-cyclically,” pumping money into the economy when unemployment is high by paying benefits that replace lost wages to those involuntarily unemployed while they search for work. State programs matter in terms of how effective unemployment insurance is in boosting economic growth. Wayne Vroman of the Urban Institute examined the effect of the wide differences in unemployment benefit recipiency across states and found that states that covered a larger share of their workers had a stronger macroeconomic stabilizing effect from the program.

The real problem is that states are in crisis. Most states didn’t adequately fund their unemployment insurance systems in good times and now that unemployment is high, they have had to borrow from the feds to pay out much-needed benefits. These loans, however, are now coming due. The Center for American Progress has laid out a comprehensive plan to avoid this race to the bottom. Without a real fix, the race to the bottom will continue.

Wonk Room

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Former Bryan Station High School standout and current Butler star guard Shelvin Mack talked to the media today at Reliant Stadium in Houston.


John Clay’s Sidelines

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A plurality of Americans is taking the side of public-employee unions in the fight over collective bargaining policies, according to a new Gallup poll out today, as more states enact or consider enacting legislation that they say will help close significant budget shortfalls.

Nearly half of Americans – 48 percent — agree more with “state-employee unions” in “disputes over collective bargaining policies and the state’s budget” occurring in Wisconsin and other states, according to the poll. Just 39 percent agree more with the governors in these disputes. Four percent said they agree with neither governors nor state-employee unions, and nine percent were undecided.

But among the 28 percent of Americans who said they were following the issue “very closely,” support for unions and the governors is virtually split.

The poll results break largely along partisan lines. A majority of Republicans, 65 percent, agree with the governors — while only a quarter agree with the unions. Democrats are also united, with 70 percent agreeing with unions, to just 19 percent siding with governors. Among independents, unions have a slight edge, 45 percent to 40 percent — within the margin of error.

Men are split evenly on the issue. But women side heavily with the state-employee unions over the governors, 50 percent to 33 percent.

Hotline On Call

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This may have been a dry run or some sort of test; in any case, whatever it was, Hamas-linked CAIR is likely to be on it soon, using it as a weapon to weaken airport security — which will have the effect (unintended, no doubt) of making jihadists’ work easier.

“3 ‘Strange’ Men Cause Flight Diversion,” by Phil Rogers and Andrew Greiner for NBC Chicago, March 30 (thanks to all who sent this in):

A Portland, Ore.-bound flight made a “level two emergency” stop in Chicago Tuesday night after passengers said three men, reportedly of Middle Eastern descent, were acting strangely, even fighting with flight crews.

At least one of the men walked back to the area of the plane where flight attendants work, laid down and began complaining of illness. That man engaged in “some sort of altercation” with the flight attendant, a passenger said.

At one point another man, who was pacing back and forth in the aisles, also got into a “verbal altercation” with a flight attendant, according to a passenger.

Other men of “Middle Eastern descent” were passing notes and “writing in their notebooks,” a source told NBC Chicago.

United contacted officials at O’Hare and alerted them that the flight, which originated in Washington D.C., would stop. The flight was diverted to Chicago.

Three passengers were removed from the aircraft, and the remaining passengers were re-screened through security, before being sent on their way.

Passengers arriving at Portland told NBC affiliate KGW they were aware of problems during the flight. Cliff Robinett described the incident as “strange goings on in the back of the plane.”

Another passenger, Lydia Omelchenko, said the three individuals removed were “strange people.”

Robinett said the man was lying on the floor in the back of the plane did not speak English, and an interpreter had difficulty translating. Robinett said a doctor on the plane also tried to assist the passenger.

He said three men got off the plane, one of them ill. No one knew what was happening at the time, including TSA officials in Chicago, he said.

Stacy Niedermeyer of Southwest Portland was on the flight with her husband and four children.

Niedermeyer said one of the men went to the back of the plane and “sat down on his bottom.” Some type of heated altercation took place.

Lydia Omelchenko said passengers knew something was amiss and were texting about the incident. She reported that two men, one of them young, left the plane and neither looked ill.

Other passengers interviewed did not wish to be identified. One passenger said a man with a backpack was pacing back and forth and got into an argument with a flight attendant.

Another said she understood it was some type of medical issue and despite it all, she never felt unsafe.

United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson refused to elaborate Wednesday morning on the reasons for the passengers’ removal other than saying “they were not following crew member instructions.”…

Jihad Watch

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The first GOP presidential candidate debate of the 2012 election season has been postponed, according to

Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty – despite the slew of GOP prospects for 2012 (most of whom have at one point said they are exploring the idea of setting up an exploratory committee to explore a presidential run), only Pawlenty has officially started such a committee, which he announced March 21.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation announced Wednesday that it was pushing the debate (to be moderated by Politico and NBC) from May 2 to Sept. 14

Actually, there is one Republican who has officially filed his candidacy for 2012 — and that’s Fred Karger, a little-known political activist who made his announcement March 22 and submitted his papers to the Federal Election Commission the next day. Karger, who is openly gay and has been excluded from numerous Republican events, formed his exploratory committee in July 2010 and has already done a bit of campaigning around the country — but the odds that he would be invited to a highly publicized debate are still slim.

Karger announcing his candidacy on CBS:

Michigan Messenger

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Qaddafi forces push rebels back while coalition meets in London

Top news: Pro-Qaddafi forces have reportedly captured the refinery town of Ras Lanuf. The rebels’ westward advance, aided by international airstrikes and a mandated no-fly zone, appears to have stalled since Qaddafi’s forces counterattacked on Tuesday. However, by advancing westward, pro-Qaddafi forces are exposing themselves to western airstrikes, and indeed warplanes and explosions were reported near Ras Lanuf on Wednesday. The government forces are also now reportedly deploying anti-personnel mines.

Meeting in London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, did not rule out the possibility of arming the rebels.  "UN [Security Council Resolution] 1973 allows all necessary measures to
protect civilians and civilian-populated areas, and our view is this
would not necessarily rule out the provision of assistance to those
protecting civilians in certain circumstances," Hague said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disputed that interpretation of the resolution. 

Members of of NATO, the Arab League, and the African Union met in London to discuss the ongoing events in Libya. The participants agreed to set up a contact group to coordinate political efforts that will hold its first meeting in Qatar. 

Syria: Syria’s cabinet resigned on Tuesday amid mass protests. In an address to the nation, President Bashar al-Assad vowed to defeat those behind the "plot" against his country. 


  • Japan’s TEPCO announced that it will decommission the four stricken reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. 
  • The presidents of India and Pakistan are sitting together at today’s World Cup cricket match. 
  • Burma’s ruling generals formally handed over power to parliament. 

Middle East


  • Forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara captured two towns in the Ivory Cost. 
  • A member of the opposition MDC party was named speaker of the parliament in Zimbabwe. 
  • An advisor to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accused the Southern Sudanese government of training Darfur rebels


  • Former President Jimmy Carter met with Cuban opposition leaders today after talks with President Raul Castro, yesterday. 
  • Haiti has postponed the release of results from its presidential run-off. 
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was given a press freedom award during a visit to Argentina.


  • Britain has expelled five Libyan diplomats for intimidating opposition groups.  
  • Italian President Silvio Berlusconi is visiting the island of Lampedusa, which has been overwhelmed by refugees fleeing North Africa in recent weeks.  
  • French religious leaders are protesting President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plant to hold a public debate on Islam. 


FP Passport

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A reality check for conservatives who insist that liberals are incapable of telling the truth: I defy you to examine the side-by-side comparison here at 7:15 and tell me the man is lying. He’s right, isn’t he? For once in his life, brutal candor. Here’s his full set from last night’s Congressional Correspondents’ Dinner and, […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

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A big WTF to Obama’s speech?

In his energy speech yesterday, Barack Obama took the time to slam the “drill, baby, drill” political movement as nothing more than an empty slogan, and a gimmick that wouldn’t solve our problems … while standing in front of his “Winning the Future” backdrop.  According to the latest survey from Quinnipiac, most Americans beg to […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

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That detail mentioned in passing in the story below, but certainly deserves a wider hearing in the broader discussion of our undeclared war in Libya. “Bahrain hardliners to put Shia MPs on trial,” by Adrian Blomfield for the Telegraph, March 31 (thanks to Zulu):

The kingdom’s parliament effectively stripped 11 MPs from the Wefaq party – a quarter of the legislature’s sitting members – of their immunity from prosecution, signalling a further hardening of the ruling family’s position.

Western human rights activists also accused the regime of torturing wounded protesters being held in a hospital in the capital Manama.

Bahrain has declared martial law and called in troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to quell protests that have left at least 24 people dead.

Saudi officials say they gave their backing to Western air strikes on Libya in exchange for the United States muting its criticism of the authorities in Bahrain, a close ally of the desert kingdom.

Ali Salman, the Shiite opposition head has warned Iran and Saudi Arabia against using his country as a “battlefield” in a proxy war.

“We don’t want Bahrain to turn into a conflict zone between Saudi Arabia and Iran,” he said. “That’s why we object to the Saudi intervention. We call for immediate withdrawal of the troops, and we reject Iranian interference.”

Jihad Watch

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Eighty six years after the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial opened Tennessee classrooms to the teaching of evolution, the state House is trying to slam the door shut again. Tennessee’s House Education Committee approved a bill Tuesday in the name of “academic freedom,” but in reality, it is a thinly veiled attempt to curtail the teaching of…
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Georgia has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws and practices in the country.  This morning, five Atlanta citizens teamed up with the Institute for Justice to change that.

Civil forfeiture threatens the property rights of all Americans.  These laws allow government officials to seize your home, car, cash or other property upon the mere suspicion that it has been used or involved in criminal activity.

In an attempt to ensure civil forfeiture is subject to public scrutiny, Georgia law requires local law enforcement agencies to annually itemize and report all property obtained through forfeiture, and how it is used, to local governing authorities.

But many—perhaps most—local Georgia law enforcement agencies fail to issue these forfeiture reports.  Today, the Institute for Justice issued a report of its own: Forfeiting Accountability: Georgia’s Hidden Civil Forfeiture Funds. It finds that among a random sample of 20 law enforcement agencies, only two were reporting as required.  Of 15 major agencies in Georgia population centers, only one produced the required report.  Yet federal data show Georgia agencies taking in millions through forfeiture.

Civil forfeiture expert Anthony Sanders, an Institute for Justice attorney involved in today’s lawsuit, explains:

Law enforcement should follow the law.  Yet many Georgia law enforcement agencies simply choose to ignore Georgia law.  This is a breach of the public trust and a betrayal of taxpayers.

Predictably, Big Government + Civil Forfeiture = Abuse. We found a Georgia sheriff that spent $ 90,000 in forfeiture funds to purchase a Dodge Viper, and a Georgia district attorney’s office using forfeiture funds to purchase football tickets.

IJ Client Anna Cuthrell cannot believe that law enforcement has been allowed to keep forfeited property and not report it to anybody.  As she puts it:

The purpose of requiring law enforcement agencies to report forfeiture proceeds is to make their budgets more transparent.  Through failing to account for this money law enforcement effectively creates its own slush fund.

Anna teamed up with Ryan Van Meter, Joseph Kidd, Josiah Neff and Tsvetelin Tsonevski, all taxpaying residents of Atlanta and Fulton County.  Specifically, their lawsuit seeks to force the head officers of the Atlanta Police Department, Fulton County Police Department and Fulton County Sheriff Department—all of which regularly fail to produce mandated forfeiture reports—to disclose the property they have seized under applicable Georgia forfeiture statues along with how they have used that property.

As a practicing attorney, Ryan Van Meter understands how his state’s civil forfeiture laws threaten his and his fellow citizens’ property rights.  He also understands how law enforcement flouts the minimal reporting protections Georgia law provides:

Civil forfeiture is one of the greatest threats to private property rights in our nation today.  Law enforcement can take your property without even charging you with a crime.  For law enforcement to fail to even account for what they seize only makes this already bad problem worse.

The Institute for Justice also released a comprehensive report, Policing for Profit, which examines and grades the civil forfeiture laws of all 50 states and the national government.  How did Georgia score?  Check out the answer here.

For more on today’s lawsuit and report, which are part of IJ’s nationwide campaign to protect private property rights from abusive forfeiture laws, please visit

The Institute for Justice is the nation’s leading legal defender of liberty. We sue the government to protect your rights. Are you a fan of IJ on facebook?  Join Team IJ today!

Big Government

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After experiencing a bounce in his job approval numbers in January after the lame duck session of Congress and the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, President Obama finds himself losing public support once again:

President Barack Obama’s approval rating and prospects for reelection have plunged to all-time lows in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

Half of the registered voters surveyed for the poll  think that the president does not deserve a second term in office, while 41 percent say he does. In another Quinnipiac poll released just four weeks ago, 45 percent said the president did not deserve reelection, while 47 percent said he did.

The decline in support for a second Obama term comes as his approval rating has dropped 4 percentage points since early March, landing at 42 percent – a record low – in the poll released Wednesday. His disapproval rating has risen from 46 percent to 48 percent.

The downward trend isn’t limited to just one poll, as Obama finds himself down across the board:

Perhaps of more concern to the White House, though, is a new Gallup poll that shows increasing public doubt about the President’s ability as a leader:

PRINCETON, NJ — Americans have grown increasingly less likely to view President Obama as a strong and decisive leader since he took office. Roughly half now believe this aptly describes, him compared with 60% a year ago and 73% in April 2009.

These results are based on a March 25-27 Gallup poll, conducted just before Obama’s widely covered speech on U.S. military action in Libya on Monday night.

The decline in Obama’s leadership rating stands in contrast to the stability in the trend for two other personal dimensions. Fifty-seven percent of Americans believe the president understand the problems Americans face in their daily lives, essentially unchanged from 56% in March 2010. And 51% of respondents believe Obama shares their values, similar to 48% last year. Both ratings are down from early 2009.

As John Podhoretz notes, this last number is particularly surprising given the fact that it comes at a time when the President is sending American forces into military conflict, an act which, even if one disagrees with the particular decision, tends to at least give the impression that he is a strong and decisive leader. Of course, any “rally round the flag” bump that Obama would normally expect in these situations is likely discounted by the fact that the public continues to have deep doubts about the mission in Libya, and doesn’t believe that the President has adequately explained what our mission there is:

The public is about evenly split in a new AP poll, with 48 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving of “U.S. involvement in military actions taken in Libya.” That’s about the same as polls from Pew and Gallup reported Monday. The AP poll completed its interviewing on Monday night, when President Obama gave his prime time speech on Libya. At just 13 percent, there is virtually no support for sending ground troops into Libya, in line with earlier polls from CNN and Pew.

A poll from Quinnipiac University, also completed on Monday night among registered voters, found varying levels of support with subtle reactions to the timing and ongoing commitment in Libya. A 53 percent majority approve of Obama’s decision to use cruise missiles to destroy Libya’s air defenses.

But beyond that initial approval for limited action, fewer believe a continued commitment is justified. Fully 47 percent say we should not be involved in Libya now, with just 41 percent saying it is the “right thing” for the United States to use military force now.

Additionally, a new Rasmussen Poll shows little change in public opinion on Libya after President Obama’s speech on Monday night. This, combined with an economy that still seems to be in limbo and rising energy and food prices, are likely contributing to Obama’s decline.

Ed Morrissey notes:

Normally, a military action allows a President an opportunity to demonstrate those leadership qualities.  Obama squandered that opportunity by leaving the country without addressing the nation as he sent the American military into a fresh conflict.  His speech ten days later might undo some of that damage, but if it doesn’t, Obama is in serious political trouble.  Few Presidents win a second term on a 41/50 re-elect number, especially when seem as a weak leader on top of it.

This much is true, but we are still about 19 months from the 2012 elections, and the GOP field still looks like a bunch of dwarfs, so don’t count Obama out just yet. With the right circumstances, and the right opponent, though, there’s a good chance that Barack Obama could be a one term President.



Outside the Beltway

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