Guess Who The Left Hates Now? Starbucks

A gun control group has found an unlikely target in its ongoing campaign to strip Americans of their Constitutional powers.

Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America – the same group that ran a series of irresponsible 2nd Amendment attack ads featuring photos combining children, classrooms and firearms earlier this year – is organizing a Nationwide boycott of everyone’s favorite coffee stop this Saturday.

The boycott is intended to goad the Seattle-based coffee chain into revering its standing policy of following the law of the land. In other words, the group wants Starbucks to ban customers from carrying guns in its stores, even in States that permit open carry.

Dubbed “Skip Starbucks Saturday,” the boycott also urges would-be gun grabbers to sign a petition asking Starbucks to change its policy, and to donate the money they’d otherwise spend on coffee this Saturday to advance the organization’s mission.

From the boycott web page:

Did you know that when you walk into a Starbucks in most states, you could be standing next to someone carrying a loaded weapon? Starbucks allows people to bring guns inside their stores where state open carry laws allow it.

According to Starbucks, this policy is in place because, “We comply with local laws and statutes in the communities we serve.” But the company has put the health and safety of its customers first before. Most recently, Starbucks banned smoking within 25 feet of its storefronts—even where local laws would permit smoking. The company also bans firearms from its corporate offices and prohibits its employees from carrying guns into Starbucks stores.

Help us tell Starbucks it’s time for gun sense.

Starbucks can do as it wants, and likely isn’t interested in becoming an object of veneration or revulsion on either side of the gun debate. But that hasn’t stopped Constitutionalists from staging their own Starbucks appreciation events in recent weeks, with 2nd Amendment advocates organizing their own open-carry group visits to store locations across the country as a show of thanks for the company’s follow-the-law policy on firearms.

Judge Tosses Ticket For Backward Jogger

MIAMI BEACH, Fla., (UPI) — A Florida judge dismissed a ticket issued to a man jogging backward and said he can continue the practice so long as he stays in bike lanes.

The judge dismissed the $77.50 ticket issued in April to Alex Mesa, who Miami Beach police said was obstructing traffic by jogging backward, WFOR-TV, Miami, reported Wednesday.

The judge told Mesa he can continue his practice of jogging backward as long as he remains in the bike lanes.

Mesa said jogging backward puts less strain on his body. He said he was afraid to exercise since receiving the ticket.

“Every time I went jogging, it felt like I was going to buy drugs, like I was sneaking out and doing something wrong and that was an uncomfortable feeling, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me because I know very well I came very far to get to where I’m at,” Mesa said.

California Elementary School Nixes Kneeling Poilicy

YUCAIPA, Calif., (UPI) — Officials with a California school district said an elementary school is ending its policy of requiring students to kneel down prior to dismissals.

Yucaipa Calimesa Unified School District Superintendent Cali Binks said the policy at Calimesa Elementary School in Yucaipa will no longer be enforced after an anonymous flyer circulated among parents led to complaints, KCAL-TV, Los Angeles, reported Thursday.

The flyer alleged Principal Dana Carter instituted a policy recently requiring students to drop to one knee at various points throughout the day and wait to be dismissed by the principal or another administrator.

A mother who asked not to be named said she was horrified to learn the policy had been implemented at the school, which her 7-year-old daughter attends.

“She says that she has to drop down on one knee with her hands at her side, wait for the principal to come out, lift his arms and tell them to go to class,” the mother said. “I feel that the principal wants to be like a king, and we don’t have kings in America.”

Zimmerman Trial Costs Public $902,000

SANFORD, Fla., (UPI) — The five-week trial of George Zimmerman that ended in his acquittal in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin cost the public $902,000, officials said.

Zimmerman, who was charged with murder in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17, in Sanford, began June 10 and a six-member jury returned the not guilty verdict on July 13.

The biggest cost associated with the trial was paid to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, which spent $425,000 providing security, planning and logistics during the trial, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported Wednesday. The second biggest was the $183,000 the city of Sanford spent on police overtime.

Sanford police decided to up security to curb potential violent protests as well as protect Zimmerman, who had received death threats

Juror costs also were high. The Clerk of Courts Maryanne Morse spent $34,600 during the jury’s 22-day sequestration, during which the six members of the jury lived in a hotel and were isolated from their families and media reports.

The trial costs are based, in part, on estimates and do not include criminal investigation or pretrial costs, such as the $80,000 the Seminole-Brevard State Attorney’s Office paid to have Special Prosecutor Angela Corey work on the case.

Nor did the trial costs include what Zimmerman and his lawyers spent.

Ohio Man Comes Back To Life After 45 Minutes Of No Heart Activity

KETTERING, Ohio, (UPI) — A 37-year-old Ohio man showed no signs of life for 45 minutes and was declared dead before his heart picked back up and he came back to life, doctors said.

Melissa Yahle said she woke up Aug. 5 and realized something was wrong with her husband, Anthony, because his breathing didn’t sound right.

She and son Lawrence, 17, performed CPR until an ambulance arrived and first responders could use a defibrillator, ABC News reported Thursday.

At Kettering Medical Center, cardiologist Raja Nazir said he discovered Anthony Yahle’s arteries were clear and things looked good until the man coded. They worked on him for 45 minutes, giving him every medicine they could, but he didn’t respond and was declared dead.

When Lawrence found out his father was dead, he said he ran down the hall to see his father’s body and yelled, “Dad, you’re not going to die today.”

Nazir said at some point after that, he noticed Anthony Yahle had a heartbeat again, about once or twice a minute.

“When I looked at the electrical activity, I was surprised,” Nazir said. “I thought we’d better make another effort to revive him.”

Nazir said Anthony Yahle was back at home, resting comfortably by Aug. 10, with no need for a heart transplant. The cause of his medical emergency was not reported.

“I’m calling it a miracle because I’ve never seen anything like it,” Nazir said.

DHS Knows How To Pick ‘Em; Unloading Obama Tickets; AlGore Wins Climate Change Debate; Thomas Jefferson’s University Dumps Spouse Benefits Over Obamacare; OFA Fanatic Busted In Racist Ruse – Thursday Morning News Roundup 8-22-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

  • A Department of Homeland Security employee who works on, among other things, the procurement of guns and ammunition for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, spends his nights and weekends preparing for a coming race war and advocating for anti-gay causes, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Source: The Atlantic Wire…
  • Craigslist has been flooded with people selling their tickets to see President Obama deliver a speech today at the University of Buffalo. Police have been posing as buyers on Craigslist, meeting with sellers, confiscating the presidential ticket, and issuing a criminal ticket. Source: WKBW… 
  • “The conversation on global warming has been stalled because a shrinking group of denialists fly into a rage when it’s mentioned,” Al Gore offers in a Washington Post interview. “It’s like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage every time a subject is mentioned and so everybody avoids the elephant in the room to keep the peace. But the political climate is changing.” Source: The Washington Post…
  • Citing ObamaCare as a reason, the the University of Virginia has announced that spouses of University employees who have access to health insurance through their own jobs will no longer be eligible for health insurance coverage. Source: Breitbart… 
  • One of the two students removed from Oberlin College earlier this year for allegedly circulating virulently racist, anti-Jewish and anti-gay messages around campus is an ardent leftist and committed supporter of President Obama, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned. Source: The Daily Caller…

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day.

Cato Study: Welfare More Lucrative Than Working In Many States

Welfare benefits outpace the amount of money a person can earn at a full-time minimum-wage job in 35 States, according to a study by the Cato Institute.

The study, published Monday, also reveals that welfare recipients in at least 13 States are receiving from the government the cash equivalent of a $15 per-hour full-time job. See a full PDF version of the report, titled “The Work Versus Welfare Trade-Off: 2013,” here.

An earlier iteration of the Cato study, done in 1995, already had shown that welfare benefits “greatly exceed” the poverty level and, because the payouts are tax-free, actually provide more incentive for recipients to remain unemployed than seek jobs that would earn them taxable income.

Michael Tanner, one of the study’s two authors, wrote Monday that welfare must be reformed if its recipients are to view it as a bridge to employment.

From Tanner’s study summary:

The current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work. Welfare currently pays more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states, even after accounting for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and in 13 states it pays more than $15 per hour. If Congress and state legislatures are serious about reducing welfare dependence and rewarding work, they should consider strengthening welfare work requirements, removing exemptions, and narrowing the definition of work. Moreover, states should consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tightening eligibility requirements.

Tanner adds that the balance in the number of people who correctly use welfare to tide them over until they find a real job has most likely declined since the 1995 report.

Earning any amount of money – even minimum wage money or part-time job money – is an incentive to earn more, Tanner notes. “There is little doubt that one of the most important long-term steps toward avoiding or getting out of poverty is taking a job,” he writes. “[W]hile many anti-poverty activists decry low-wage jobs, a minimum-wage job can be a springboard out of poverty.”

However, welfare keeps many able recipients from looking for work – not because of laziness, but because of economics. “[T]he evidence suggests that many are reluctant to accept available employment opportunities,” said Tanner.

Ever-Present Terror: School Has Bus Hijacking Drill, Doesn’t Tell Students

A SWAT training exercise that took place in Rossford, Ohio, last week appears to be just the latest example of the state working to familiarize American citizens with terror and heavy-handed police-state response.

Students on a bus en route to a local school were terrified when a man stood up and proceeded to hijack the vehicle. The hijacker, carrying what appeared to be a functional firearm, tied up some of the students and told them to keep their heads down.

The bus was rerouted to a local emergency management facility where it was stormed by first responders and SWAT teams.

“Every driver, administrator will take something away from this saying that this could actually happen on my bus. That’s what our focus was. This could happen on any bus,” Jeff Culler, Rossford Schools transportation director, told a local ABC affiliate.

While preparedness is always a good policy, there was one disturbing element to the drill: The students onboard the bus had no idea that they weren’t in real danger — even though the drill had been planned since May.

Via 13 ABC:

This isn’t the first unannounced drill to take place in a school.

Personal Liberty’s Ben Bullard reported in May:

Teachers at an Oregon school thought they and their colleagues had been shot by masked gunmen who stormed a faculty meeting and began randomly firing at people. Amid the shock and noise and adrenalin, teachers had to look down at their own bodies in order to realize they weren’t bleeding.

They weren’t bleeding because the shooters were firing blanks, and — ho, ho — the whole thing had just been a preparedness exercise. The two guys with the guns, wearing hoodies and masks, were school staff members acting on the instruction of principal Cammie DeCastro. …

… The shock-and-awe invasion of a room full of 15 teachers produced both hypothetical casualties and real outrage. DeCastro said most of the teachers wouldn’t have survived the ordeal, had live rounds been used — a fact intended to emphasize the importance of active shooter training the school’s faculty had previously received from the county sheriff’s office.

Is this the new norm for American students?

The Sweeping Torrent Of Boundless Ambition And Corrupted Morals

Politicians, bureaucrats, et al. are wordsmiths. They twist words that sound good to us but lead to opposite conclusions. This semantic trickery is used in everything and every proposed piece of legislation.

Many of them are lawyers and doublethink legalese is their forte. Their political life is all about deception. This is their cover so that they hide the fact that they work for the government.

The politicians’ fiat mentality can be described as a parasite that attracts other parasites of like mind. The fiat (paper money) mentality is rot and decay that attracts likes because they can’t survive independently as creators of wealth.

They love the politics of envy; they are the epitome of greed, selfishness, laziness and physic dependence on authoritarianism. They are vipers who eat their young. A police state is their ultimate dream.

They protect the power elite and they want power over the people at the people’s expense. They want the world in a concentration camp. They harbor a perfect hate for humanity and they would love the Gestapo.

Totalitarianism evolves from the breakdown of law and order through a synthetic and secretly directed make-believe democratic process. The breakdown of law and order is a political cancer that must be concealed in order to extend the system until the rape is over. Concealing the breakdown of law and order in the United States is of the very highest priority. It is the hidden national agenda.

Man, his work ethic, his spirit, his emotions, his duty and his morality are all distorted by a fiat system in the latter days. There is no more terra firma; all is quicksand. The debasement of morality is no surprise to the discerning. I and others have been foretelling it.

On the one hand, we have the boundless ambition without morality. On the other, we have the supine venality of the dependent class. The Founders foresaw it.

In an early draft of his first inaugural address, George Washington wrote in 1789:

The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest purposes. Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the Supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting an inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchm[en]t can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.

It’s taken 224 years, but America has arrived there.

God Bless Texas

Hello, I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. I’ve spent a lot of time right here at PersonalLiberty.com as a prosecutor laying out the indictment of Barack Obama. But now it’s time to see the glass as half full. It’s time to light the way to prosperity. Now I’m going to paint a picture of how a country should be run. That example is the great State of Texas. If you want to see how a country should be run; if you’re interested in seeing your citizens succeed; and if you’re interested in creating opportunity, mobility and the pursuit of happiness, all you need to do is look at Texas.

Facts don’t lie. It seems like everyone is moving to Texas, the land of “Wild West Cowboy Capitalism” –especially residents of high tax-and-spend States like California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois and Michigan. From 2000 to 2010, a staggering 3.4 million people moved out of New York, resulting in a net loss of 1.3 million residents. California was a close second with a net population loss of 1.2 million during the same decade.

During that same time, Texas led the Nation in net population growth. A remarkable 551,914 new Texans came from one State: California. They brought with them $14.3 billion in income. In just one year (from 2009 to 2010), 48,877 Californians moved to Texas, bringing with them $1.2 billion. But even that paled against the almost $1 trillion in assets and income that relocated New Yorkers brought to the Lone Star State. Wow!

So why is everyone running for their lives from New York and California? And why are so many of them heading to Texas? The answers are taxes, regulations and quality of life — in other words, government interference in their lives or, in the case of Texas, minimal interference. It’s no coincidence that New York has ranked first or second in the Nation for tax burden every year since 1977.

In addition to State income, property and sales taxes, New York has a whopping 49 cents per gallon gas tax and the highest estate and gift taxes in the Nation. After grabbing more of your money than any State while you’re alive, New York also steals more of your money after you’re dead — with estate taxes. I should know; I left New York 25 years ago and never looked back.

But California couldn’t stand to be No. 2. Those Hollywood socialists are so competitive. Not to be outdone by New York, last November, California passed the highest State income taxes in America. You can almost hear the liberals shouting: “We’re No. 1!” Yes, the State is No. 1 in taxes, but it’s also No. 1 in people running for the exit — especially high-income earners and high-net-worth individuals. Be careful what you wish for.

California not only leads the Nation in taxes, it is also the worst State for excessive rules and regulations. It’s no wonder so many people are escaping California. I should know; I left California, too.

Lest you think this is some kind of fluke or that taxes are not the determining factor in this “escape from New York and California,” it isn’t just Texas that is gaining all these fleeing residents. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that all of the top 15 States for population growth during the past decade are no-tax or low-tax States. And since the 2010 census, Texas dominates the list for fastest-growing cities, with eight of the top 15. Remarkable.

It seems Americans are smarter than politicians give them credit for. They are voting with their feet for lower taxes, pro-business attitude and more economic freedom.

Because no State in the union has a better economy, let’s look “up close and personal” at the Texas miracle. What exactly is “Wild West Cowboy Capitalism” and why does it work?

Texas has zero State income tax, zero capital gains tax and zero death tax. It is a “right to work” State where employees may choose to join a union, but are never forced. It is a pro-business and anti-lawyer State, passing both landmark medical lawsuit reform and America’s first “loser pays” lawsuit reform. The results of the medical reforms? Lawsuits dropped by 70 percent. Twenty-five thousand doctors moved to Texas. Medical liability insurance rates dropped by as much as 50 percent. Texas is also one of the most difficult States in which to file class action lawsuits.

Quite simply, Texas treats businesspeople and taxpayers nicely. The State offers more business incentives ($19 billion) than any other State.

On the other hand, Texas is tightfisted with taxpayer money. They pay the least generous welfare and entitlement benefits. California is the exact opposite. They are the welfare capital of America. California has one-third of the Nation’s welfare recipients. Why? Because California pays the most generous welfare benefits in the Nation: $179 per citizen compared to $32 per citizen in Texas.

Texas is also tightfisted with its government employees. California government employees are paid 25.2 percent more on average than State employees in Texas. California has the highest-paid teachers in America, while Texas pays its teachers far less. Yet the high school graduation rate is higher in Texas than California. Texas runs its government far more efficiently.

Texas has a balanced budget amendment. By contrast, California owes an astounding $167 billion. The result is people with high incomes, assets and ambition are moving into Texas, while those who lack work ethic and feel entitled to handouts are moving out. Good luck to New York and California. We’ll see you in bankruptcy court.

One of the ways this has been made possible is that the Texas State constitution limits the time politicians can meet to 90 days every other year. That explains everything. Texas, like my adopted home state of Nevada, has low taxes and the fastest growing population because politicians aren’t allowed to sit in their seats all year long thinking of new ways to redistribute income, impede business and destroy jobs.

Just look at the remarkable results of favoring hard-working business owners and job-creators over entitlement addicts and lawyers. The annual Texas economy has passed $1 trillion, accounting for 8.3 percent of the entire U.S. economy. It is second largest in America and 14th largest in the world — equivalent to Russia.

How about jobs? Feast your eyes on these statistics: Since 2007, one-third of all jobs in America were created in Texas; and in the past decade, more jobs were created in Texas than in the other 49 States combined. Texas is where three out of every five jobs created in America since 2007 were created.

Even more amazing is the kind of jobs Texas has been creating. They have created the most private-sector jobs in the Nation and eliminated government jobs — the kind that cost taxpayers big money.

According to CNN/Money, Texas for the first time has more Fortune 500 headquarters than New York. Texas is also home to six of the top 50 Fortune 500 companies.

At the same time, Texas displaced New York as the second largest economy in this country. Texas’ economy had the most explosive growth in all of America for the past 50 years, while California’s economy has been among the worst.

Texas’ fiscal condition is sound. California, New York, Illinois and all these other high tax-and-spend States careen from crisis to crisis, always on the verge of bankruptcy. Business flourishes. Here’s an example why. California-based CKE Restaurants has more than 3,000 restaurants, including Carl’s Jr. and Hardees. Its president, quoted in The Wall Street Journal, called his home State of California business-unfriendly and noted that opening a restaurant in California takes two years and costs $200,000 more than opening one in Texas, where it takes only six weeks. Is it a surprise that CKE has stopped opening new restaurants in California, but plans to open 300 in Texas? Chevron must have gotten the same memo. It recently announced it is moving 800 high-paying employees (one quarter of its workforce) from California to Houston.

Still unconvinced? Ask the CEOs of America. In Chief Executive magazine’s annual poll (the one that ranked California dead last in America for business for eight consecutive years), Texas has been ranked No. 1 for those same eight straight years. And CNBC just ranked Texas as the top State in America for business for 2012 — the third time it’s been ranked No. 1 in six years.

Texas recently passed its 2013 budget. Texas cut taxes and spending, and it wound up with a record-setting $8 billion budget surplus. Congratulations to Governor Rick Perry.

Now you know why all my exes live in Texas. I’ll bet all your ex-business partners and ex-friends do, too. Now you know how to save America. Just follow Texas; it’s that simple. Now you understand that businesses, as well as people, choose States that treat them better, give them more economic freedom and allow them to keep more of their own money. Imagine that?

The results of smaller government, restrained politicians and lower taxes is dramatically increased wealth, job creation and citizens with a higher quality of life. God bless Texas. The solution to saving America is to do the opposite of everything Obama does. Texas proves it works.

By the way, my Texas friends want everyone to know: “Come on down, ya’ll are welcome. Just leave your socialist politics at home.” I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. See you next week. Same time, same place. God bless America.

The NRA’s NSA Moment

The National Rifle Association has been a steadfast vocal opponent to any gun-control proposal that involves a national gun owner database. But a report published by BuzzFeed on Wednesday indicates that the gun lobbying organization has compiled its own gun owner registry.

nra

The NRA has, for years, been working to acquire gun permit registration lists from State and county offices, gather names of new owners by scouring the records for gun-safety classes taught by NRA-certified instructors and by buying lists of gun show attendees and subscribers to gun magazines and newsletters.

BuzzFeed contributor Steve Friess reports:

The result: a Big Data powerhouse that deploys the same high-tech tactics all year round that the vaunted Obama campaign used to win two presidential elections.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam declined to discuss the group’s name-gathering methods or what it does with its vast pool of data about millions of non-member gun owners. Asked what becomes of the class rosters for safety classes when instructors turn them in, he replied: “That’s not any of your business.”

Others in the business of big political data, however, say the NRA is using similar tools to those employed by the campaigns of its nemesis, President Barack Obama.

“There are certainly some parallels,” said Laura Quinn, CEO of Catalist, a data analysis firm used by Obama for America. “The NRA is not only able to understand people who their members are but also people who are not their members. The more data they have, the more it allows them test different strategies and different messages on different people.”

“Part of the way they have gotten to a place where they are able to do what they do is through data,” Quinn said. “There is some irony.”

The vast size of the NRA’s database and its sophisticated methods of analyzing the public mood go a long way to explaining the organization’s enduring influence. Even in an age when opinion polls show gun control measures gaining in general popularity and when wealthy benefactors like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are spending millions to counter the NRA’s lobbying and advertising budgets, the NRA has built-in advantages.

The NRA won’t say how many names and what other personal information is in its database, but former NRA lobbyist Richard Feldman estimates they keep tabs on “tens of millions of people.”

While American liberals have used the BuzzFeed piece to call the NRA hypocritical for compiling a database much like the government database it has so vehemently opposed, the critics miss an important point: The NRA, a private organization, is likely identifying gun owners in a bid to strengthen the pro-gun lobby; meanwhile, the Federal government wants its own gun owner database to use a potential tool for gun confiscation in certain situations.

National Review noted in response to the BuzzFeed piece:

It’s astronomically unlikely that the NRA would ever use this data as part of an effort of national gun confiscation. The purchasing of magazine subscriber lists — hey, that’s been around for a long time. …

… The BuzzFeed article seems to emphasize the theme of hypocrisy, or to suggest that gun owners should be or will be up in arms about the NRA using all this data to beat back gun-control efforts. Somehow I suspect that a lot of gun owners will respond, “Well, it’s about time!”

In an era where the Federal government has demonstrated its ability to force private entities turn over user and customer data per PATRIOT Act and other anti-terror laws, however, gun owners should be careful not to feel too comfortable with the NRA database. The lobbying group may end up shooting its supporters in the foot, having already done the dirty work if the National Security Agency should decide it would like a gun owner database of its own.

It is also worth mentioning that the NRA has found itself on both sides of the gun debate over the decades (as we noted here in January).

Reefer Madness

Attorney General Eric Holder has so thoroughly disgraced himself during his occupation of the big chair at the Department of Justice that those extremely rare moments during which he doesn’t sell weapons to Mexican narcoterrorists or perjure himself in front of Congress often go unnoticed. So let me say this: Holder got one right — sort of.

On Aug. 13, Holder announced a Department of Justice (DoJ) plan to curtail mandatory minimum sentencing for low-level, non-gang affiliated, nonviolent offenders. According to Holder, the aforementioned category “(W)ill be charged with offenses for which the accompanying sentences are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins.” Of course, being Holder, he couldn’t resist the urge to work some imaginary racist element into the scenario, calling the higher rates of African-Americans incarcerated “shameful,” without noting the higher rates of African-Americans committing crimes.

There is a down side to a Holder-commanded DoJ removing its considerable surveillance and enforcement apparatus from the hemp-sandal set. Doritos and Taco Bell will almost certainly face shortages. And people who mention Jesus in their blog posts will notice an increase in the unmarked vans parked randomly across from the houses. But look on the bright side; the perversion factories and gladiator schools we call prisons will get less crowded, meaning the yard fights will be much more exciting.

According to the DoJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the DEA arrested 5,911 people for marijuana-related offenses in 2005 (the most recent year for which I could find reliable statistics). Marijuana-linked offenders represent about 13 percent of America’s prison inmates, or just less than 50,000 inmates nationwide. Throw in those awaiting trial or currently on probation for nonviolent marijuana-linked offenses, and the number jumps to more than 1,000 percent. That means the real bad guys — the rapists, the murderers and the Democratic mayors of large cities — have to share unnecessary space behind bars.

The cost of imprisoning every Cheech and Chong wannabe with grow lights in their hall closets comes in at about $1 billion annually. If America were to declare general amnesty for nonviolent marijuana offenders, we would save enough to fund every “green” energy boondoggle Obama’s cronies cook up and still have enough left over to bail out one or two auto manufacturers who’ve been driven into the wall by the union thugs.

On the social side, taking weed out of the criminal equation would spare millions of people from a future of checking the “yes” box under: “Have you ever been convicted of something that guarantees you have already peaked as a member of society?” That’s especially thoughtful, considering the fact that some of those millions of people smoke pot to relieve painful medical conditions like cancer and glaucoma.

Now, don’t mistake my intent here. I am not suggesting that we legalize all drugs. As an example, heroin should remain as illegal as assaulting Hispanic neighborhood-watch captains. “Meth” routinely turns users into hollow-eyed zombies who are capable of shocking acts of crime and/or violence against anyone at any time. Add cocaine to the mix, and the zombies may well include Hollywood producers, pop music stars and mayors of Washington, D.C.  The “hard stuff,” as it were, tears apart families, lives and communities. But marijuana doesn’t send potheads into drug-fueled crime sprees and tabloid headlines. According to the FBI, 86 percent of all marijuana-related arrests are for simple possession.

Granted, if you smoke enough weed over a long enough period of time, you may suffer some deleterious effects. Witness President Barack Hussein Obama’s understanding of American geography.  But if you do enough of almost anything, you’ll have a price to pay. Too much water can upset your electrolyte balance. Too much food can make you look like Michael Moore. Too much voting for Democrats can create Detroit.

In 1919, America got its puritanical panties twisted into enough of a knot to amend the Constitution to ban alcohol. While the demon rum has certainly done plenty of quantifiable damage over the years, the banning thereof not only didn’t kill our taste for a good stiff belt once in a while, it added colorful characters like Al Capone and his mafia pals to the popular lexicon. It took 13 years of unprecedented crime before the 18th Amendment met its end in a hail of nanny-state-induced gunfire. Fast-forward nearly a century, and we still have yet to understand why.

–Ben Crystal

Camille Paglia: Hillary Clinton ‘Has More Sooty Baggage Than A 90-Car Freight Train’

Camille Paglia, one of the few the old-school liberals whose social and fiscal views have always placed her nearer Constitutional libertarianism than 21st century liberalism, has had a rough go of rationalizing, to herself, her ongoing affiliation with the Democratic party. She’s admitted to herself that her eternal optimism for a classical liberal Democratic President is nostalgia, a principled loyalty she feels to her rebellious 1960s academic roots when liberalism and libertarianism were almost one and the same.

“Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans?” she once wrote. “Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). … How has ‘liberty’ become the inspirational code word of conservatives rather than liberals? I always thought that the Democratic Party is the freedom party — but I must be living in the nostalgic past.”

Paglia is among a number of now-jaded 1960s-era liberal intellectuals and culture-makers who truly believe in America as a land of singular opportunity ordained by a governing charter — the Constitution — that eternally stands as one of humanity’s crowning achievements. Whether you agree with their views, there’s no denying that their beliefs are substantive and uninfluenced by inscrutable motives or shortsighted expediency. The Administration of President Barack Obama has seen liberals like Paglia, Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone, David Mamet and others rue their longstanding faith in the power of last century’s Democratic beliefs to carry over into the perverted Democratic power structure of the present day. Paglia herself voted for Obama in 2008, but she spent the next four years disgusted with him (as she had done with Bill Clinton in the 1990s) and ended up voting with the Green Party in 2012.

In a Salon interview this week, Paglia indicated she’s not interested in continuing to wave the flag for establishment candidates who’ll continue to subvert the very principles that once defined her beloved Democratic Party. In particular, she’s done with Hillary Clinton — big time.

From Salon:

As a registered Democrat, I am praying for a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the younger tier of politicians in their late 40s. A governor with executive experience would be ideal. It’s time to put my baby-boom generation out to pasture! We’ve had our day and managed to muck up a hell of a lot. It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our party’s best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished — beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She’s certainly busy, busy and ever on the move — with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.

I for one think it was a very big deal that our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi. In saying “I take responsibility” for it as secretary of state, Hillary should have resigned immediately. The weak response by the Obama administration to that tragedy has given a huge opening to Republicans in the next presidential election. The impression has been amply given that Benghazi was treated as a public relations matter to massage rather than as the major and outrageous attack on the U.S. that it was.

Throughout history, ambassadors have always been symbolic incarnations of the sovereignty of their nations and the dignity of their leaders. It’s even a key motif in “King Lear.” As far as I’m concerned, Hillary disqualified herself for the presidency in that fist-pounding moment at a congressional hearing when she said, “What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator?” Democrats have got to shake off the Clinton albatross and find new blood. The escalating instability not just in Egypt but throughout the Mideast is very ominous. There is a clash of cultures brewing in the world that may take a century or more to resolve — and there is no guarantee that the secular West will win.

There’s not a lot that even Rand Paul could add to that.

In fact, Paglia and the thinking members of the Tea Party differ primarily on one point, and that’s the extent to which religion should influence the crafting of a political party’s social platform. Paglia is a secularist who champions religion as mankind’s genius reaction to the brutal world it’s inherited, but she’d just as well live in a society which is ready for art to serve as the dominant vessel to contain and spill forth human nature.

The future tenure of even a two-term Democrat President doesn’t have to result in the Nation-wrecking debacle that’s unfolding under Obama, but just about the only way for that to happen is for party leaders on both sides to start listening to their conscience. Paglia, Chomsky and their sagacious peers are the closest thing Democrats have to a true conscience; and it’s a safe bet no one who matters inside the party is listening.

Where Aid Money To Egypt Really Goes; DNC Financials Demonstrate Democrats’ Debt Problem; Cops Taser Non-Threatening Man, Kill Him; Secret Court Told NSA That Snooping Is UnConstitutional; And Elementary Teacher Jailed For ‘Eye For Eye’ Lesson— Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 8-21-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

ProPublica On U.S. Aid To Egypt: Where Does All Of The Money Go?

Questions about the United States’ aid to Egypt have intensified in the wake of last month’s military coup. More than 1,000 Egyptians have been killed in the last week, most apparently supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. A few members of Congress have called for cutting off aid to Egypt, which the White House says is under review. ProPublica breaks down where the money actually goes. Read More… 

Democratic National Committee Financials Reveal Insight Into Party’s Money Management Style

Recently released financial filings indicate that government spending isn’t the only area in which Democrats pretend that debt doesn’t matter. The Party is still struggling to pay off $18.5 million in campaign debts as its cash on hand continues to decline. Read More… 

Phoenix Police Called To Talk Non-Threatening Man Off Roof; Taser Him Five Times; Man Dies

A 44 year-old man in Phoenix was on an apartment roof “acting strangely,” according to local television news reports. So witnesses called the police to help him down. Instead, the police ended up killing him. Watch… 

EFF Victory Results In Release Of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Opinion Finding NSA Surveillance UnConstitutional

For almost two years, EFF has been fighting the government in Federal court to force the public release of an 86-page opinion of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Issued in October 2011, the secret court’s opinion found that surveillance conducted by the NSA under the FISA Amendments Act was unConstitutional and violated “the spirit of” Federal law. Read More…

Teacher Gets 30 Days In Jail For Teaching Class Bully A Lesson

A former Texas kindergarten teacher will spend 30 days in jail for instructing her pupils to hit the class bully, a judge ruled. Read More… 

ProPublica On U.S. Aid To Egypt: Where Does All Of The Money Go?

This ProPublica article, written by Marian Wang and Theodoric Meyer, has been updated to reflect new developments. It was first published on Jan. 31, 2011.

Questions about the United States’ aid to Egypt have intensified in the wake of last month’s military coup. More than 1,000 Egyptians have been killed in the last week, most apparently supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. A few members of Congress have called for cutting off aid to Egypt, which the White House says is under review.

We’ve taken a step back and tried to answer some basic questions about the aid, including how much the U.S. is giving Egypt, what’s changed in the years since the Arab Spring and what all the money buys.

How much does the U.S. spend on Egypt?

Egypt receives more U.S. aid than any country except for Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

The exact amount varies from year to year and there are many different funding streams, but U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt has averaged about $2 billion a year since 1979, when Egypt struck a peace treaty with Israel. Most of that goes toward military aid. President Obama’s 2014 budget tentatively includes $1.55 billion in aid, about the same amount the U.S. has sent in recent years.

Has any of the aid been cut off?

Actually, yes, but only economic aid, and only some of that. State Department has put a hold on some programs financed by the $250 million in annual economic aid to Egypt, including training programs in the U.S. for Egyptian hospital administrators, teachers and other government workers.

What about the military aid?

The administration delayed a scheduled delivery of four F-16 fighters to Egypt last month, and it is considering a similar delay for a shipment of Apache attack helicopters and repair kits for tanks. But the White House has not actually cut-off military aid, which has held steady at about $1.3 billion since 1987.  (Economic aid, meanwhile, has fallen by more than two-thirds since 1998.)

American officials say that military aid doesn’t just promote peace between Egypt and Israel, it also gives the U.S. benefits such as “expedited processing” for U.S. Navy warships when they pass through the Suez Canal. A 2009 U.S. embassy cable released by WikiLeaks makes essentially the same point:

President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance program as the cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the USD 1.3 billion in annual FMF as “untouchable compensation” for making and maintaining peace with Israel. The tangible benefits to our mil-mil relationship are clear: Egypt remains at peace with Israel, and the U.S. military enjoys priority access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace.

According to the State Department, the military aid has included tanks, armored personnel carriers, antiaircraft missile batteries and surveillance aircraft in addition to the F-16 fighters and Apache attack helicopters. In the past, the Egyptian government has bought some of the weapons on credit.

How important is the aid to Egypt?

Pretty important. Saudi Arabia, which along with other Persian Gulf countries pledged $12 billion in aid to Egypt after the coup, promised this week to make up the difference in any aid cut by the U.S. or other Western nations. But much of the aid can’t easily be replaced, in particular fancy U.S. weapons and replacements parts for them.

Does the aid require Egypt to meet any specific conditions regarding human rights?

Not really. When an exiled Egyptian dissident called on the U.S. to attach conditions to aid to Egypt in 2008, Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., who had recently stepped down as the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, told the Washington Post the idea was “admirable but not realistic.” And then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in 2009 that military aid “should be without conditions” at a Cairo press conference.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, led Congress in adding language to a spending bill in 2011 to make aid to Egypt conditional on the secretary of state certifying that Egypt is supporting human rights and being a good neighbor. The language requires that Egypt abide by the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, support “the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections,” and put in place policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law.” It sounds pretty tough, but it’s not.

Has American aid to Egypt ever been cut off?

No. Congress threatened to block aid last year when Egypt began a crackdown on a number of American pro-democracy groups. A senior Obama administration official said that then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had no way to certify the conditions set out in the spending bill were being met.

But Clinton waived the certification requirement (yes, the secretary of state can do that) and approved the aid, despite concerns about Egypt’s human rights record. The reason? “A delay or cut in $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt risked breaking existing contracts with American arms manufacturers that could have shut down production lines in the middle of President Obama’s re-election campaign,” the New York Times reported. Breaking the contracts could have left the Pentagon on the hook for $2 billion.

Doesn’t the U.S. have to cut off foreign aid after a coup?

The Foreign Assistance Act mandates that the U.S. cut aid to any country “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.” But last month the White House decided that it was not legally required to decide whether Morsi, who was democratically elected last year, was the victim of a coup 2014 which allowed the aid to keep flowing. “We will not say it was a coup, we will not say it was not a coup, we will just not say,” an anonymous senior official told the New York Times.

As the Washington Post’s Max Fisher points out, Obama and his predecessors have dealt this kind of thing before. The president cut some aid to Honduras after a coup in 2009 and to Mali and the Central African Republic after coups there in 2012, but not all of it. And those countries aren’t nearly as important to U.S. foreign policy as Egypt. President Bill Clinton cut some aid to Pakistan after a coup there in 1999, but President George W. Bush reinstated all of it after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Obama’s refusal to call it a coup infuriated Morsi supporters. “What is a coup?” Wael Haddara, a senior adviser to Morsi, told the New York Times. “We’re going to get into some really Orwellian stuff here.”

What about economic aid and efforts to promote democracy?

The various economic aid efforts have had mixed results. The State Department has described the Commodity Import Program, which gave Egypt millions of dollars between 1986 and 2008 to import American goods, as “one of the largest and most popular USAID programs.” But an audit of the four-year, $57 million effort to create agricultural jobs and boost rural incomes in 2007 found that the program “has not increased the number of jobs as planned.” And an audit of a $151 million program to modernize Egypt’s real estate finance market in 2009 found that, while the market had improved since the program began, the growth was “not clearly measurable or attributable” to the aid efforts.

The U.S. has also funded programs to promote democracy and good government in Egypt 2014 again with few results. It has sent about $24 million a year between 1999 and 2009 to a variety of NGOs in the country. According to a 2009 inspector general’s audit, the efforts didn’t add much due to “a lack of support” from the Egyptian government, which “suspended the activities of many U.S. NGOs because Egyptian officials thought these organizations were too aggressive.”

recent audit of the European Union’s 20AC1 billion 2014 about $1.35 billion 2014aid program found that it had been “well-intentioned but ineffective” in promoting good governance and human rights. And a WikiLeaks cable revealed the Egyptian government had asked USAID in 2008 to stop financing NGOs that weren’t properly registered.

 

Democratic National Committee Financials Reveal Insight Into Party’s Money Management Style

Recently released financial filings indicate that government spending isn’t the only area in which Democrats pretend that debt doesn’t matter. The Party is still struggling to pay off $18.5 million in campaign debts as its cash on hand continues to decline.

In July, the DNC’s debt burden increased from $18.3 million to $18.5 million, while the amount of cash the Party had on hand decreased from $5.7 million to $4.1 million.

The DNC has slowly tried to chip away at the more than $20 million in debt it racked up during the last election cycle over the past seven months—but the key word is slowly.

In the past three month, Democratic Party officials have been able to pay down $2 million in debt, just outpacing a decline in the amount of cash on hand totaling $1.3 million.

But DNC leaders aren’t too worried—in fact, they say they’re proud.

“We put that into a field. We won a whole bunch of states nobody thought we would win, and we’re proud of that,” Committee spokesman Michael Czin said. He added, “The sky’s not falling.”

On the other hand, the Republican Party coffers are in the black. The RNC reported raising $5.9 million in funding for July, and has $12.3 million in cash and no debt.

Phoenix Police Called To Talk Non-Threatening Man Off Roof; Taser Him Five Times; Man Dies

A 44 year-old man in Phoenix was on an apartment roof “acting strangely,” according to local television news reports. So witnesses called the police to help him down. Instead, the police ended up killing him.

Michael Ruiz, the son of a former police detective, got on his apartment roof on July 28, alarming residents who knew of his ongoing drug issues. Fearful that Ruiz would harm himself, they called the cops. When the police arrived, they “coaxed” him off the roof with multiple taser shots and then proceed to drag him in handcuffs down the stairs.

Witnesses said Ruiz’ unsupported head was repeatedly hitting the concrete stairs so hard they could hear the impacts.

His father, Richard Erickson, saw the video made him sick to his stomach.

“I’d never seen anything like this before, even when I was with the police department,” he told ABC-15.

“I started crying ’cause that’s not right, to hurt nobody like that,” said neighbor Verna Young. “He didn’t deserve that. He was a nice person, very nice.”

The EMS report stated Ruiz had been tased five times. He had to be resuscitated once in custody, but he was hospitalized and was eventually put on life support. Erickson decided five days after the incident to take him off life support, and Ruiz died.

Erickson has hired an attorney and said he is seeking the termination of the officers involved in the incident.

Phoenix police are still investigating and have given no comment.

EFF Victory Results In Release Of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Opinion Finding NSA Surveillance UnConstitutional

In response to EFF’s FOIA lawsuit, the government has released the 2011 FISA court opinion ruling some NSA surveillance unConstitutional.

For almost two years, EFF has been fighting the government in Federal court to force the public release of an 86-page opinion of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Issued in October 2011, the secret court’s opinion found that surveillance conducted by the NSA under the FISA Amendments Act was unConstitutional and violated “the spirit of” Federal law.

Today, EFF can declare victory: a Federal court ordered the government to release records in our litigation, the government has indicated it intends to release the opinion today, and ODNI called a  press conference to discuss “issues” with FISA Amendments Act surveillance, including a discussion of the opinion.

It remains to be seen how much of the opinion the government will actually make available to the public. President Obama has repeatedly said he welcomes a debate on the NSA’s surveillance: disclosing this opinion—and releasing enough of it so that citizens and advocates can intelligently debate the Constitutional violation that occurred—is a critical step in ensuring that an informed debate takes place.

Here are examples of documents previously released by the administration in response to our Freedom of Information Act request. Anything even resembling those “releases” would be utterly unacceptable today. But we’ve come a long way since then, it took filing a lawsuit; litigating (and winning) in the FISC itself; the unprecedented public release of information about NSA surveillance activities; and our continuing efforts to push the government in the district court for release of the opinion.

Release of the opinion today is just one step in advancing a public debate on the scope and legality of the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs. EFF will keep fighting until the NSA’s domestic surveillance program is reined in, Federal surveillance laws are amended to prevent these kinds of abuse from happening in the future, and government officials are held accountable for their actions.

Massachusetts Has More Than $300 For Obama

BOSTON, (UPI) — The Massachusetts treasurer said the commonwealth owes President Barack Obama more than $300 in unclaimed property.

State Treasurer Steve Grossman said his office’s cache of unclaimed property has two $156.23 checks for Obama, both refund checks from Comcast, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

The checks are dated May and June of 2009, but Grossman said it usually takes about three years for the state to receive checks for unclaimed property.

Grossman said he doesn’t know why Massachusetts was sent the refund checks for a Maryland cable television account.

“Because it’s a Maryland address, we assume it goes back to when he was in the [U.S.] Senate,” he said.

“It’s kind of interesting that the president of the United States somehow, some way, ended up with unclaimed property,” Grossman said. “We’ve had other high-profile people before, star football players, star baseball players and actors. But I don’t ever remember a president before.

Grossman said he hopes Obama asks for his checks.

“We’ll let the White House know there are some forms that need to be filled out, and we’ll find someone close to the president to urge him to sign them and send them back. I know a lot of people for whom $312.46 is a big deal if they were to get an unclaimed property check,” he said.

Bearded Dragon Found Wandering In Boston Nursed Back To Health

BOSTON, (UPI) — Animal rescuers in Boston said a family has adopted a bearded dragon found wandering with an injured leg.

The Animal Rescue League said the reptile, an Australian species named for its ability to flare out its skin to resemble a beard, has been nursed back to health and returned to a healthy weight since he was found emaciated July 25, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

The animal has permanently lost the use of one leg, the league said.

Roscoe was cared for by an adoption agent and has now been adopted by a father and daughter with experience caring for injured bearded dragons.

Mother Elephant Chooses Newborn’s Name, Mavi, At Tampa Zoo

TAMPA, Fla., (UPI) — The baby elephant born in the Tampa, Fla., Lowry Park Zoo has been named Mavi, a name chosen by the mother herself, zoo officials said Tuesday.

The zoo’s elephant care team chose five names in the Swati language for the 3-week-old calf, each beginning with the letter M to honor the mother, Matjeka. An online contest narrowed the choices down to two, Mavi, meaning “voices,” and Mngani, meaning “friend,” WTSP-TV, St. Petersburg, Fla., reported.

Two nutritional “enrichments” were prepared for the mother, stacks of hay and produce with the two names spelled out in carrots, and Majteka walked over to the one identified as “Mavi” and dug in, the television station said.