Today in Liberty: Democrats sticking by Obama on the VA scandal, fight over NSA spying moves to the Senate

“When I mentioned monetary policy, the kids started cheering. Then a small group chanted, ‘End the Fed! End the Fed!’ The whole crowd took up the call. Many held up burning dollar bills, as if to say to the central bank, you have done enough damage to the American people, our future, and to the world: your time is up. People know. Even people aged 18-21. But, they need someone to put it into words.”Ron Paul

— Senate Democrats quiet on VA secretary’s future: It’s not surprising that most Democrats have chosen to keep quiet about VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, ostensibly endorsing President Obama’s inaction. What is surprising, however, is that vulnerable Senate Democrats, with their political careers and control of the chamber on the line, are towing the party line. “As of Thursday afternoon, not a single Democratic senator had called for Shinseki’s resignation,” Alexander Bolton writes at The Hill. “And Senate Democrats have been slow to embrace House-passed legislation that would give Shinseki the authority to fire senior executives.” Now, Senate Democrats have said that there should be accountability and called for an investigation into the wait times that have led to the deaths of 40 veterans, but the problems at the VA aren’t new, they’ve been around for a while, and this was something President Obama pledged to address when he ran in 2008, and nothing has been done.

(Credit: Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

— Jay Rockefeller’s douchebaggery not backed up by Harry Reid: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who isn’t seeking reelection this fall, says opposition to Obamacare is because of President Obama’s skin color, sparking a heated argument with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). But Rockefeller’s comments weren’t backed up by Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “Between the two of them. I’m staying out of it,” Reid told reporters. “I mean, it’s something I should stay out of and I’m going to.” When Rockefeller made the comments during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing, Johnson was the only Republican in the room. You can watch the whole thing below. Get popcorn.

— Sorry, Republicans, Las Vegas is out for 2016: Regardless of what you may think, Las Vegas is a great town. That said, however, Sin City probably isn’t the best place to hold a political convention. “Prior to the site selection committee vote, Cincinnati respectfully withdrew their bid from the process based upon the criteria set forth by the RNC for the main arena,” the Republican National Committee noted in a statement. “Las Vegas also respectfully withdrew their 2016 bid based on the RNC’s criteria for a traditional arena facility and enough on-site preparatory time to accommodate the 2016 convention.” The site of the 2016 Republican National Convention is down to four cities — Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Kansas City. We’re pulling for Denver. No, really, we are, and it’s because we really like the town, not because of that other thing.

— Milquetoast Freedom Act clears House, Wyden announces opposition: There’s a fight brewing in the Senate over the USA Freedom Act. The House overwhelmingly passed a severely weakened version of the measure yesterday. Not long after, however, a key Senate Democrat announced his opposition to the watered down measure, taking aim at President Obama. “While this bill’s authors may not intend for it to be interpreted so broadly, the Executive Branch’s long track record of secretly interpreting surveillance laws in incredibly broad ways makes it clear that vague language is ineffective in restraining the Executive Branch,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement. “Given the Executive Branch’s record of consistently making inaccurate public statements about these laws in order to conceal ongoing dragnet surveillance of Americans, it would be naïve to trust the Executive Branch to apply new surveillance laws with restraint.” Wyden says he’ll support the Senate version of the USA Freedom Act, which is currently awaiting action in the Judiciary Committee.

(Credit: Ron Paul Problems)

— NBC News scores interview with Edward Snowden: It’s the first time the NSA whistleblower, who was the subject of some House members ire on Thursday, has been interviewed for American television. “[Brian] Williams’ in-person conversation with Snowden was conducted over the course of several hours and was shrouded in secrecy due to Snowden’s life in exile since leaking classified documents about U.S. surveillance programs a year ago,” NBC News notes. “Williams also jointly interviewed Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has reported stories based on the documents in media outlets around the world, about how they came to work together and the global debate sparked by their revelations.” The interview will air in an hour-long primetime special on Wednesday, May 28 at 10 pm.

— Fifty senators apparently have nothing better to do: Obamacare is still unpopular, the government is spying on its own citizens, and veterans are dying because of long wait times at VA hospitals, so, naturally, 50 Senate Democrats are concerned about the Washington Redskins. “The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” said the letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We urge the N.F.L. to formally support a name change for the Washington football team.” Whether the name is offensive is not a matter for the members of United States Senate. This should be between the N.F.L., the Washington Redskins’ ownership, and the offended groups, and, like it or not, the team is under no obligation to change its name. The team’s owner, Dan Snyder, has a lot invested into the merchandise and licensing agreements, as long as he’s puts a winning team on the field every Sunday, people will come to the games.

— Harry Reid’s inconsistency on money in politics: The Senate majority leader isn’t applying the absurd standard he’s set for the Koch brothers to leftist billionaire Tom Steyer, who is investing $100 million to help radical environmentalist Democrats this fall. “Whatever the federal government does, the extremely rich are going to find a way around it. Still, the inconsistency of Reid’s position toward the various players in the game is distasteful,” Charles W. Cooke explains at National Review. “Sure, Reid likes Steyer’s politics and he doesn’t like Charles Koch’s. But if the Kochs are ‘buying American democracy,’ and “overriding the will of the people,” then so is Steyer. If the Kochs are overly represented in the national conversation, then so is Steyer. If the Kochs are attempting to change the makeup of the Senate to reflect their desires and their interests, then so is Steyer.” Steyer has practically bought presidential policy, and, yet, it’s the Koch brothers whom Reid and Senate Democrats are using to try to take away the fundamental right to free speech. Like Cooke says, it’s a matter of consistency. But, then again, we’re talking about Harry Reid.

— Uh, Hillary Clinton has made a lot of money since leaving State: Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but Clinton isn’t going to see this kind of money sitting in the Oval Office. “Since leaving State, Clinton has made more than 90 speeches and notable appearances. Her hosts have included private equity firms, investment banks, nonprofit galas, trade association conventions, and a slew of colleges and universities. At least two-dozen of those were paid speeches,” Mother Jones reports. “With her usual fee of $200,000 a speech, Clinton has banked close to $5 million for her speeches and appearances in the last 15 months.” Clinton has always seemed like someone who prefers power and prestige over money. She’s the real life Frank Underwood.

— Get liberty direct on your iPhone: Cato Institute’s has made an app for its Free Thoughts podcast. The podcast weekly podcast is hosted by Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus as well as guest every episode and focuses on policy, history, and philosophy from a libertarian perspective. You can find the app in the Apple App Store here.

— Memorial Day: Today in Liberty won’t run on Monday. We hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend. Please take some time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

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