Sheriff In North Carolina Understands Law Enforcement Isn’t The First Line Of Defense

Harnett County, N.C. Sheriff Larry Rollins gets it. He wants his deputies to respond to calls as fast as they can, but he knows that it takes a while to drive from point A to point B, no matter how urgent a call sounds.

He also knows that citizens who’ve been targeted by criminals have the right to protect themselves and hold down the fort until help arrives.

“When I am out with my family, even though I am a cop, I don’t go anywhere without a gun,” Rollins told a packed crowd Monday evening at the Spring Hill United Methodist Church in Lillington, N.C.

“I mean it’s sad we have to have that attitude,” Rollins continued, “but I am going to protect myself and my family. I want my deputies at your house just as fast as they can when you got a problem, but you better be able to take care of business until we get there if you have to protect your family.”

According to local television news station WTVD, the crowd was there in response to a recent “explosion” in violent crime, having answered a call to a community meeting to discuss solutions with law enforcement.

In late July, a rash of violent incidents in the area shocked small-town residents in Harnett County, home to 120,000 people. There was a murder in Spring Lake, in nearby Cumberland County, on or around July 30. Two other men were shot in the town of Cameron, about half an hour away from Lillington, on Aug. 1. A crash resulting from a high-speed police chase in Lillington sent a man to the hospital July 29.

 

LAPD Cries Foul After Private Citizen Flies Drone Over Police Station

Following an incident in which a drone enthusiast stood on a public sidewalk and piloted his camera-equipped drone above the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood station, the LAPD is attempting to find a legal basis for prohibiting the practice.

Last week, the LAPD consulted with city and county attorneys in an attempt to come up with a legal argument against operators of drones who would seek to gain a bird’s-eye view of their facilities. The topic came to a head for the department after the police confronted privacy advocate Daniel Saulmon, who films police officers on the job in order to underscore the “double standard” that protects bad cops from facing true accountability, as he operated his drone recently outside the Hollywood station.

Saulmon, who goes by the Internet handle “Tom Zebra,” published the drone footage to YouTube following the incident.

Saulmon gets arrested often in order to prove his point. In his YouTube commentary on the Hollywood video, he explains why he keeps going back for more:

Police violate our 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 14th amendment rights on the regular. Suddenly they want to talk about expectation of privacy? Oh, is that how it works? They want privacy, but want to give none?

LAPD Lt. Michael King’s remarks to the Los Angeles Times Friday set forth the department’s argument.

“What concerns us is that they are filming over private property and it’s gated – you’re looking at the layout of the police station, how we operate, personnel license plates,” he said. “It’s kind of like if it was your house, if they’re flying over your backyard you’d start asking questions about it.”

Saulmon insisted that argument constitutes a double standard – one that favors the state by denying the same freedoms to the citizen.

“They bring up the expectation of privacy, I’m not buying it,” he told the Times. “Suddenly they’re talking about how I’m trespassing on a public sidewalk. They do not have an expectation of privacy…if you want privacy, build a roof.”

A Plurality Of Registered Voters Wants A Republican-Controlled Congress

Voters may be sick of Congress, but they appear to be more disgusted with Democrats in Congress than Republicans. A new poll indicates that a plurality of voters not only wants the House of Representatives to continue with a Republican majority, but that they also want a Republican majority in the Senate.

The poll, sponsored by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, predictably found that people view Congress negatively, with 50 percent indicating Congress has been “very unproductive” this year. Another 24 percent said Congress has been “somewhat unproductive.”

But the survey then asked voters which party they preferred in the majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate individually.

For the House of Representatives, 43 percent of registered voters said they want to see a Republican majority, while 41 percent said they favor a Democratic majority. An identical question concerning a Senate majority yielded the same numbers: 43 percent favoring Republicans and 41 percent favoring Democrats.

The poll also asked “residents” who indicated they are not registered voters the same series of questions. Interestingly, the plurality that slightly favored a Republican majority in both chambers among registered voters was reversed when non-voting “residents” weighed in. Forty-two percent of “residents” said they favored a Democratic majority in the House, compared with 41 percent that favored a Republican majority; 43 percent of “residents” said they favor a Democratic majority in the Senate, compared with 42 percent who favored Republicans.

Another interesting piece of data lies in the political demographics of the pool of voters who participated in the randomized survey. Twenty-five percent of voters said they consider themselves “Tea Party Supporters,” while another ten percent said they weren’t sure. The remaining 65 percent said they do not identify with the Tea Party.

In addition, a combined 45 percent of voters said they were either “very conservative” (13 percent) or “conservative” (32 percent), while only a combined 22 percent said they were either “very liberal” (eight percent) or “liberal” (14 percent). The remaining 33 percent described themselves as “moderate.”

View the full results here.

Sharp Jump In Public’s Low Opinion Of Obamacare

Polls, polls, polls. Useful as media fodder and for backseat political punditry. But polls, especially tracking polls that follow a single topic over time, can be useful in gauging the general direction of public opinion.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation’s monthly tracking poll for July is out today, and – in spite of Kaiser’s efforts in helping to introduce and explain Obamacare to the public in a positive light since the October 2013 rollout – the Obamacare numbers aren’t good.

“[T]he news for Obamacare is bad,” wrote Reason’s Peter Suderman today. “Really bad. So bad, in fact, that I’m not entirely sure I believe it.”

In one month, the percentage of Americans who indicated they held an unfavorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act rose from 45 percent (June) to 53 percent (July) – an eight percent increase. At the same time, 37 percent of Americans said they still hold a favorable opinion of the law in July, down from 39 percent in June.

Since Kaiser began tracking public opinion on Obamacare, there’s never been a percentage of Americans who view the law negatively as high as the 53 percent who did so through the end of July.

There’s little reason to expect that number to fall significantly between now and the November Congressional midterm election, regarded in many States as a voter referendum on Obamacare.

A Federal health official predicted this week that Healthcare.gov will still have functionality problems when enrollment begins this October; Californians are paying an average of 55 percent more for health insurance since the law went into effect; and lawsuits beset Obamacare on all sides.

“It’s beginning to look like the health-care law will never attract the public’s support,” wrote The Daily Caller’s Sarah Hurtubise today. “Premiums are rising, against the promise of Obamacare supporters, but the most drastic premium hikes will likely not take effect until 2017, according to experts.”

One wonders what the Kaiser tracking poll will look like when that happens.

Irony Alert: Pelosi Asks The Press To Shill For Democrats

Asked today why Congressional Democrats haven’t been able to effectively persuade people that evil Republican obstructionists are what’s wrong with America, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) admonished the news media to “be messengers” for her party’s position throughout the midterm election campaign season.

A reporter at a press briefing asked Pelosi why Democratic messaging, designed to warn voters away from the GOP’s “anti-government premise,” hasn’t been “resonating” as the Democrats had hoped.

“So you make this case about the skepticism that people have of this anti-government premise here,” the unidentified reporter said. “You talk about, you know, ‘they’re riding this impeachment horse, and lawsuit horse, and all these things they are doing in the election.’

“Why, for every political analysis that we see – and including the top people in your party [who] don’t believe that the Democrats have a message that can get the House of Representatives back; what government shutdown? Why are these things not resonating with the electorate and won’t resonate this fall?”

Pelosi’s first line of blame was aimed straight at the media. “Well, first of all, we need you to be messengers about what is actually going on here,” she responded, either not satisfied with, or oblivious to the existence of, an already-pliable mainstream press.

She went on to promote her “Middle Class Jump Start” – a final push, in the months leading up to the November midterms, for Democrats to foment voter anxiety http://www.democraticleader.gov/middle-class-jumpstart/ about “House Republicans…stacking the deck for the wealthy and their special interest friends at the expense of middle class families.” That initiative pledges a bevy of implausible measures a Democratic-controlled House would enact within “the first 100 days of 2015.”

“But, apart from that, we have come forward with our Middle Class Jump Start,” she offered. “Over the month of August, we go forward with how the jump start talks about bringing jobs home. The Republicans have tax breaks to send jobs overseas. Democrats want tax breaks to keep jobs here at home.”

Go do your job, media: Get Pelosi’s propaganda out there on the streets.

Sheila Jackson Lee Cries Over Obama Impeachment Talk: We Never Tried To Impeach Bush! (Even Though She Did)

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) spoke passionately on the House floor Wednesday against any talk of impeaching President Barack Obama, arguing that Democrats never tried to impeach Republican President George W. Bush when he went to war with Iraq under false pretenses. One small problem with her claim: Lee co-sponsored the Bush impeachment bill in 2008.

Leaving aside the possibility that Democrats are driving impeachment talk, in order to gin up midterm fundraising panic, far more than their Republican opponents these days, Jackson Lee took Republicans to task over a House vote on whether to move forward with a lawsuit against Obama:

I ask my colleagues to oppose this resolution, for it is in fact a veiled attempt at impeachment, and it undermines the law that allows a President to do his job. A historical fact: that President [George W.] Bush pushed this Nation into a war that had little to do with apprehending terrorists. We did not seek an impeachment of President Bush, because as an executive, he had his authority. President Obama has the authority…

Well, here’s the Library of Congress’ bill summary page for H.R. 1258, Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s (D-Ohio) impeachment bill that died in committee in June of 2008. Titled “Impeaching George W. Bush, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors,” H.R. 1258 not only is an impeachment bill – it’s an impeachment bill Jackson Lee herself co-sponsored, along with ten other Congressmen.

A Jackon Lee spokesman later tried to clarify her remarks, tersely telling Yahoo News Thursday, without elaborating, that “she misspoke.”

“Despite Democratic protests on the House floor, however,” wrote Yahoo News’ Chris Moody, “[Democratic] party lawmakers seem downright gleeful about the exercise after fundraising successfully from the lawsuit and talk of impeachment.”

In March, you might recall, Jackson Lee took to the House floor to celebrate our 400 year-old Constitution.

Two Months Ahead Of Sign-Up Start, Obamacare Website Still Doesn’t Work

An official from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday told a Congressional panel that Americans shouldn’t expect this year’s Obamacare enrollment period to go smoothly, despite months of bad publicity about Healthcare.gov’s infamous rollout problems and hundreds of millions of dollars spent to correct them.

“It’s a bumpy process at time. We have committed people, but there will clearly be bumps,” Andy Slavitt, CMS Principal Deputy Administrator told the House Energy and Commerce Oversight subcommittee on Thursday.

Under questioning from Congressman Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Slavitt admitted the underpinnings of the Federal Obamacare website still aren’t completed – and that insurance companies are being subsidized at estimated rates because the “back end” of the website is still not live and able to spit out rates that reflect real-time values.

The Washington Free Beacon provided a transcript of the relevant portion of Burgess’ exchange with Slavitt:

REP. MICHAEL BURGESS: When this thing went live the back end part of the system was not built. Is it now built, available and ready to use? The part that pays providers?

ANDY SLAVITT: The part that pays the issuers, the issuers are getting paid today.

BURGESS: How about the doctors and hospitals?

SLAVITT: The doctors and hospitals get paid by the health plans not by the marketplace.

BURGESS: So the back end part of the system is up and fully functional?

SLAVITT: No. No No. The back end part of the system is going through continuous releases. Today we are paying the issuers at an estimated basis that would be a coming release this year where by the end of this year they’ll begin to get paid at a policy level basis and next year continued automation will occur to tie everything to do with the back end of CMS’ systems.

Slavitt’s attempt at lowering expectations for Obamacare in its second year coincides with the released of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that places the cost of last year’s botched launch at $840 million. That report places much of the blame on CMS bungling, as well as changes to the law that moved the goalposts even as the rollout loomed.

“In summary, we found that CMS undertook the development of Healthcare.gov and its related systems without effective planning or oversight practices, despite facing a number of challenges that increased both the level of risk and the need for effective oversight,” the GAO stated in prepared testimony.

“…New and changing requirements drove cost increases during the first year of development, while the complexity of the system and rework resulting from changing CMS decisions added to FFM [Federally Facilitated Marketplace] costs in the second year.”

 

Note from the Editor: As you’ve just read, the Obamacare abomination doesn’t bode well for anyone. But if you know how to navigate the system you can still control your own healthcare—as every American should! My trusted friend and medical insider, Dr. Michael Cutler, and I have written a concise guide to help you do just that. I urge you… Click here for your free copy.

Watch D.C.-Area Residents Support Bringing In Illegal Immigrant Children, Then Decline To House Them

Media Research Center’s Dan Joseph is at it again, trolling well-meaning progressives who can’t reconcile their big hearts with the practical demands of their everyday lives.

Joseph spent about an hour getting people in Old Town Alexandria, Va. to sign a petition supporting the idea of bringing illegal immigrant children to the area – and, for those who signed up, asking them to follow through by signing a second petition indicating their willingness to house a child in their own homes.

Several people (but not all) signed the first petition. But nobody wanted to sign the second one. “I quickly learned that their sympathies only went so far,” Joseph said in an accompanying article Wednesday for CNS News.

“Obviously, the idea of bringing these kids to beautiful Northern Virginia all seemed great – in theory – to many of the people I talked to. But, support for my initiative stopped at agreeing to sign a piece of paper. When I asked these citizens to do anything more to help solve the problem, their sympathy seemed to quickly evaporate.”

Accused Of Invading Users’ Privacy, Google Implores Court To Protect Its… Privacy

Google, Inc. just settled the last of several lawsuits in which the plaintiffs alleged the company violated their privacy. The plaintiffs alleged Google violated Federal law and peeked too far into their personal lives by scanning the habits and tendencies of the users of all its services, and then “commingling” all that data in order to form a more educated guess at what kind of ads its users would respond to.

Now, in the wake of the settlements, the media want to get at the court documents the cases generated. Guess who can’t abide the thought of that? Google.

According to Courthouse News Service, lawyers for the company have asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh not to allow the court documents to be made public — even though a consortium of media outlets (including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Reuters, POLITICO, Courthouse News Service and many more) maintains that “[u]nder the First Amendment and the federal common law, the press and the public have a presumptive right of access to court proceedings and documents.”

No way, say Google attorneys, who call the curious press corps — and we are not making this up — “media intervenors.”

Their argument, essentially, is that the cases have been settled, there’s no longer a plaintiff “class” of millions of Google users and, therefore, there’s no far-reaching public interest in the details of the case. 

Here’s Courthouse News Service quoting from one of the Google attorneys’ filings:

“The self-styled media intervenors’ perceived need for public access to the information sought to be sealed is significantly diminished by the court’s denial of class certification with prejudice,” Google attorney Whitty Somvichian, of the firm Cooley LLP, wrote in an answer filed Thursday [July 24]. “The media intervenors opposed the motions to seal on the basis that ‘the public interest cannot be overstated,’ in part, because ‘this case has the potential to affect the rights of the millions of class members.’ Now that the court has denied class certification with prejudice and each of the representative plaintiffs’ cases has been dismissed, the need for the ‘millions of class members’ to have access to Google’s confidential information is necessarily diminished.

But what if they only want to sell Google something?

For more on Google’s “commingling” method of aggregating information about user behavior in order to target advertising, see this 2012 article from Courthouse News Service.

Note from the Editor: Under the Obama Administration, the NSA, the IRS, and the State and Justice departments are blatantly stepping on Americans’ privacy—and these are just the breaches we’re aware of. I’ve arranged for readers to get a free copy of The Ultimate Privacy Guide so you can be protected from any form of surveillance by anyone—government, corporate or criminal. Click here for your free copy.

Sexist Bloomberg Gun Control Ad Unintentionally Makes A Case For Gun Ownership

The latest frightful television ad from Everytown for Gun Safety — the new iteration of Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group — features an angry man bursting through his ex’s door to shoot the mother and haul away their toddler son. 

Giving fresh credence to the evergreen saying that, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away, the unarmed woman in the video reaches for the phone to call 911. That’s not exactly stopping power, so the guy shoots her anyway — fade to black.

That’s obviously not the message Everytown was trying to send when it published the video on Monday. “Tell Senator [fill in the blank]: Stop gun violence against women.” 

That’s the message Everytown was going for; it’s the one that takes over the screen as the bad guy fires the gun. It’s an ambiguous message, and the Internet wasted no time in pointing out that the woman in the ad was, herself, the best hope in this scenario for stopping the “gun” violence against her.

“The video by Everytown for Gun Safety is intended to show the dangers of guns in the hands of domestic abusers,” wrote MyFox New York Wednesday, “but the victim, a woman, is seen helpless because she has no gun to protect herself.”

The four female co-hosts of ABC’s daytime talk show “The View” spent some time talking about the ad Tuesday, and, remarkably, three of them walked away from the piece with a different perspective than Everytown intended: “Get a gun in your home!” as co-host Sherri Shepherd put it.

Here’s Shepherd after viewing the ad:

The flipside is when I was at my home and the alarm went off, and I ran to my son’s bedroom and Jeffrey was crying, and I realized all I had to protect me and somebody coming around that corner was a daggone wicker trash basket. And I said to myself and everybody said to me, “well get a bat.” You got one chance to use a bat and if they take it away — “Get pepper stray.” You know how close they got to get to you, if you use pepper spray? You got one of these? [makes a gesture like she’s holding a gun and makes a sound of cocking a gun] They’re not gonna come near you and your child! So when you’re standing there, and you don’t know how to protect your child? Get a gun in your home!

Hosts Jenny McCarthy and Juliet Huddy shared similar experiences from their own lives that led them to the same conclusion. ABC’s Lara Spencer played the odd woman out, insisting that guns are too dangerous to keep in a home with children. Both McCarthy and Shepherd told Spencer, “I used to think like you.”

The other noteworthy thing about the Bloomberg ad — and it’s a feature common to much progressive propaganda that seeks to level the playing field by taking away freedoms and opportunities — is its implicit sexism, as well as its implicit assumption that people are passive victims until the state comes to their rescue. 

“Stop gun violence against women.” If — when confronted by a snorting, irrational man who lacks the character to check his own proclivity to use muscle against her — an unarmed woman is indeed the weaker creature, then a gun is exactly what places her on equal physical ground. And it allows her to be an active agent in determining the safety of herself and her family. Isn’t that a message worth sending?

YouTube user Dan Troop, commenting on The Washington Free Beacon’s posting of the segment, summed it up nicely:

Looks like Bloomberg ignored an important consideration — women aren’t as dumb as he thinks they are. This PSA will, if anything, convince women that the only protection and defense they can count on is self-protection and self-defense and that the best tool for that job is a firearm.

Median Wealth Of U.S. Households Plummeted By One-Third In The Past 10 Years

In the past decade, the wealth of the median household in the United States has dropped by an average of one-third, according to a recent study published by the Russell Sage Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit research organization.

The group concluded that the median worth of American households has declined from a high of $98,972 in 2007 to $56,335 in 2013. For the 10-year period between 2003 and 2013, that figure dropped from $87,992 to $56,335 — about a one-third decrease.

The brunt of the loss has occurred since 2007, and it’s hit the bottom economic demographic the hardest.

From the study summary:

Through at least 2013, there are very few signs of significant recovery from the losses in wealth experienced by American families during the Great Recession. Declines in net worth from 2007 to 2009 were large, and the declines continued through 2013. These wealth losses, however, were not distributed equally. While large absolute amounts of wealth were destroyed at the top of the wealth distribution, households at the bottom of the wealth distribution lost the largest share of their total wealth.

Net worth is a measure of the value of a household’s assets against its debts: stocks, land and homes compared with what a household owes to own these assets free and clear. Home values, which are closely tied to the net worth of middle-class families, have been particularly affected over the past decade.

“While stock prices rebounded relatively quickly after the collapse in 2007, housing prices did not,” the report states. “As a result, the median of wealth not held in real estate declined by about only $6,900 between 2007 and 2013, compared to a decline in median total net worth of about $42,500. Affluent households are more likely than other households to hold stocks and have large portfolios, which allowed them to benefit from the gains in the stock market.”

Police Commissioner: ‘I Want To Have Discretion Over’ Who Can Have Guns In Boston

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans took advantage of his time before the city’s public radio audience last week to explain his support for a State legislative measure that would allow local police to decide who can or cannot be licensed to own long guns. As his quoted remarks make clear, it all boils down to a simple feature: control.

The Democratic-tilted State Senate voted 28-10 last week to strip language in a gun bill already approved by the House that would have granted local police forces the discretionary power to determine who can obtain long guns. It’s a power local police already have over those who choose to inform the State of their desire to obtain a handgun.

Police issue firearms identification cards (FIDs) to people who’ve passed a background check. In the case of handguns, Massachusetts law currently allows local police to deny a carry permit to someone who’s been issued an FID — if the police indicate a concern for how that person might use the gun. The Senate rejected a provision that would have included long guns in the police dragnet.

Evans sat for a phone interview last Wednesday with two sympathetic broadcasters from public radio juggernaut WGBH, expressing his disappointment with the Senate’s decision and urging legislators to reconsider:

A lot of times we know background information on people that, you know, whether they’ve been involved in domestic incidents or, you know, some mental issues, you know based on the totality of circumstances sometimes we can say ‘deny’ — and if we don’t get this legislation in, you know, people can go down and we have no say in them getting an FID card.

… A lot of people do not have criminal records, obviously, but there’s other issues going on in their lives that we’re aware of, and based on the knowledge we have, I think we should be able to determine the suitability of who should possess a gun, especially here in the city.

… There has to be restrictions because people should have a legitimate reason for possessing them.

… For the most part, nobody in the city needs a shotgun; nobody needs a rifle, and I don’t know a lot of people who are into hunting who — being lifelong residents — would actually want that who lives in the city, but, especially here in the city I want to have discretion over who’s getting any type of gun, because public safety is my main concern and, as you know, it’s an uphill battle taking as many guns off the street right now without pumping more into the system.

After the Massachusetts Senate stripped the language, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick aligned with Evans and the other police chiefs pushing for the expansion of police powers over FID licensing to include long guns. “I side with the police chiefs who were here yesterday and the law-enforcement officials, that the House version is the stronger of the two,’’ he said the day after a gun control rally at Beacon Hill.

Watch A Reporter Ask Whether Obama Administration Shaped Its Impeachment Talking Points Around A Democratic Fundraiser

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest started talking to reporters about the possibility that the Republican-majority House of Representatives would get serious about bringing articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama.

That same weekend, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched an email-based fundraising blitz, sending out eleven iterations of messages to donors all based on one central theme: rallying against the GOP’s impeachment threat.

The timing was serendipitous, and the alarmist effort reportedly has been more successful than the DCCC’s other moneymaking tactics so far in this midterm election cycle.

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl followed up on that coincidence Tuesday, asking Earnest whether he had coordinated with the White House to make sure the words he spoke in his official capacity on Friday would serve the party’s fundraising efforts.

Earnest had a hard time with the question, telling Karl he hadn’t collaborated with the DCCC to craft a partisan message – at least “not that I’m aware of.”

“You mean you don’t know if you’ve coordinated, or if you didn’t?” Karl pressed. “…Within hours [of your comments] the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is putting out fundraising emails quoting what you said – with a red alert: the White House says impeachment’s a real possibility…”

Earnest went on to deny such a collaboration…kind of. He equivocates better than Jay Carney, but, like his predecessor, he isn’t telling anyone anything they don’t already know.

Senate Climate Change Resolution Blocked By GOP Lawmaker

A Democrat-led attempt to weave anthropogenic climate change into the political backdrop for future Congressional legislation failed to achieve a vote Monday, after Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) blocked the measure.

Inhofe objected to the resolution, which – according to the Democratic Senate web page – expresses “the sense of the Senate regarding global climate change.”

That sense, of course, is that climate change poses a risk to the Nation. “All we wanted to say in this resolution is climate change is happening,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) “We can’t afford to sit around here debating whether climate change is real.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who submitted the resolution, said the goal was to establish a common assumption about the reality and the effects of global warming, from which the Senate could proceed as it takes up future climate change-related measures. “We know we have a problem,” said Klobuchar.

But Inhofe, who has a history of questioning the policy significance of climate change, maintained that “we” do not know that we have a problem, and that there’s not as much global political consensus on the matter as the measure’s supporters wanted to reach in the Senate.

“What we should be doing is learning from the international community. Just last week, Australia repealed its much-hated carbon tax, the same thing that’s been promoted right now – either cap or trade or tax on carbon,” he said.

Klobuchar said she plans to bring the resolution up for a vote again because, according to The Hill, she feels the Senate “looks ‘silly’ for ignoring scientific agreement.”

Hillary Clinton Invokes George W. Bush To Distance Herself From Obama Administration

In another indication that Hillary Clinton is laying the groundwork for a 2016 Presidential run, the former first lady made an affirmative connection with the Administration of President George W. Bush Sunday — further distancing herself, in the process, from the festering public perception of fellow Democrat, former employer and current President Barack Obama.

Appearing on CNN, Clinton insinuated she doesn’t think much of the way Obama advocates his idea of American exceptionalism to the rest of the world, telling Fareed Zakaria that American ideals, under Obama, are being “taken for granted.”

Democracy has triumphed. This is the end of history. That was so short-sighted. And now we are in this period where we have to go back out and sell ourselves. It’s not to be taken for granted. What do we stand for and how do we intend to lead and manage? How do we try to enlist the rest of the world in this struggle between cooperation and order and conflict and disorder, which is really at the root of so much that’s going on today. And I don’t think we’ve done a very good job of that.

Sounds like she pines for the days when Presidents understood their role as evangelists for America. Citing an example of a President “selling” America to the rest of the world, Clinton pointed to our outreach in sub-Saharan Africa. But, in spite of Obama’s focus on helping to develop Africa’s national economies with U.S. dollars, it wasn’t Obama’s leadership she had in mind — it was Bush’s:

You know, George W. Bush is very popular in sub-Saharan Africa. Why? Because of PEPFAR, the President’s emergency program for AIDS relief. Whether you agree or disagree with a lot of what else he did, and I disagree with a lot of it, I am proud to be an American when I go to sub-Saharan Africa and people say I want to thank President Bush and the United States for, you know, helping us fight HIV/AIDS. You know, we spend a lot of money and a lot of time and effort trying to be influential around the world when I think we would be able to succeed more effectively if we were clearer about who we are and what we stand for and the values that we hold, obviously tempered by experience and the competing interests that we face.

She didn’t elaborate on her understanding of what America’s values are, or which of them the President should be promoting abroad. But she did make it clear that should she campaign to become President, she’d rather be mentioned in the same sentence with a Republican nemesis than the unpopular Democratic incumbent whose nominal support will only damage her chances.

Professors Compare Silicon Valley’s Labor Shortage Myth, Labor Surplus Reality

A group of U.S. policy professors wrote an opinion piece that appeared Sunday in USA Today, taking on Silicon Valley’s corporate leadership for propagating the false argument that America needs more liberal immigration laws to supplement a severely understaffed tech-sector economy.

The group, which includes economics, public policy, computer science and planning professors from major U.S. universities, challenged the claims of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and even President Barack Obama — all of whom have justified the need to relax immigration standards by outlining the dearth of homegrown workers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector.

“This claim is echoed by everyone from President Obama and Rupert Murdoch to Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates,” the professors wrote. “Yet within the past month, two odd things occurred: Census reported that only one in four STEM degree holders is in a STEM job, and Microsoft announced plans to downsize its workforce by 18,000 jobs.”

That observation makes for a logical, if anecdotal, counterargument to the likes of Zuckerberg and Obama. But the authors press further, offering a step-by-step deconstruction of the Silicon Valley position — one that is now pressuring Congress and the White House to expand the guest worker and green card programs for STEM-qualified foreign nationals.

The group prefaces its observations with a significant disclaimer: “As longtime researchers of the STEM workforce and immigration who have separately done in-depth analyses on these issues, and having no self-interest in the outcomes of the legislative debate, we feel compelled to report that none of us has been able to find any credible evidence to support the IT industry’s assertions of labor shortages.”

Then the writers offer facts:

If a [STEM labor] shortage did exist, wages would be rising as companies tried to attract scarce workers. Instead, legislation that expanded visas for IT personnel during the 1990s has kept average wages flat over the past 16 years. Indeed, guest workers have become the predominant source of new hires in these fields.

Those supporting even greater expansion seem to have forgotten about the hundreds of thousands of American high-tech workers who are being shortchanged — by wages stuck at 1998 levels, by diminished career prospects and by repeated rounds of layoffs.

The facts are that, excluding advocacy studies by those with industry funding, there is a remarkable concurrence among a wide range of researchers that there is an ample supply of American workers (native and immigrant, citizen and permanent resident) who are willing and qualified to fill the high-skill jobs in this country. The only real disagreement is whether supply is two or three times larger than the demand.

But why would the tech industry misrepresent the facts about the domestic labor market from which it draws its talent?

The tech industry’s promotion of expanded temporary visas (such as the H-1B) and green cards is driven by its desire for cheap, young and immobile labor. It is well documented that loopholes enable firms to legally pay H-1Bs below their market value and to continue the widespread age discrimination acknowledged by many in the tech industry.

… IT industry leaders have spent lavishly on lobbying to promote their STEM shortage claims among legislators. The only problem is that the evidence contradicts their self-interested claims.

The tech sector’s motivation to devalue the asking price for entry into its skilled labor force is, at the end of the day, understandable. The profit motive will propel a business to make money by saving money, when possible, until market forces stabilize the practice or until the industry runs up against a legal barrier.

The more problematic question, though, is why the Obama Administration, along with some House members now considering the tech sector’s recommendations, are so receptive to Silicon Valley’s call for a cut-rate workforce — a workforce whose market value tightens in inverse proportion to the loosening of U.S. immigration policy.

Update: Police Footage From The Night New Mexico Cops Failed To Find Drugs In A Man’s Rectum – Even After A Forced Digital Probing

Late last year, we told you about the ordeal of David Eckert, the New Mexico man who endured a hellish night of anal probing and forced anesthesia because the Deming, N.M. police officers who stopped him really, really wanted to believe he was concealing drugs (he wasn’t). His story was similar to that of another New Mexico man, Timothy Young, who had needlessly endured the same treatment – at the same hospital.

Reason TV has released a brief video edit of Young’s ordeal, cobbled together from police camera footage and a sit-down interview with Young after the fact.

“The dog’s not gonna hit on your vehicle?” one officer asks Young early in the search.

“I don’t know what the dog is gonna do – If you want it to, I guess it could,” Young – evidently aware that police dog searches sometime have a way of going wrong – replied.

Even though Young was not in possession of any drugs, Gila Medical Center – which conducted the forced anal probe (and had also conducted a forced colonoscopy in the Eckert case) – sent him a bill for the service. Young sued everyone involved, and is now (so far) $925,000 richer after receiving a judgment from Hidalgo County, N.M.

Thousands Of Pentagon Workers With High Security Clearances Owe $730 Million In Back Taxes

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit has discovered a city’s worth of Pentagon employees who have two things in common: they’re all eligible for high-level security clearances, and, during the period for which the report was conducted, they all owed the government a combined $730 million in back taxes.

The GAO audit found that, from among the 5 million government employees and non-government contractors cleared to access sensitive information, approximately 83,000 Pentagon workers eligible for such a clearance also owed the government delinquent tax money. The report covered a five-year period between 2006 and 2011.

According to a breakdown of the report published Monday at The Hill, 26,000 of the Pentagon employees recognized by the audit actually held security clearances. Their delinquency amounted to $229 million.

“About 4,800 of the 83,000 employees had IRS liens against their property, and 23,000 were subject to wage garnishment and other IRS collection tactics,” The Hill observed.

It’s not currently against the law for the government to retain employees – even employees entrusted with sensitive and confidential information – who can’t be trusted to render unto Caesar. The GAO advised, though, that awarding security clearances to people who’ve skipped out on their Federal tax bill “poses a potential vulnerability.”

The Pentagon isn’t the only government entity with an employee tax-dodging problem. You may remember an April report that revealed the IRS itself had awarded $1 million in bonus pay to more than 1,000 employees who had “substantiated Federal tax compliance problems.”

Congressman Returns U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Award Over Chamber’s Pro-Amnesty Stance

Frustrated over the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement of a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens living and working in the United States, Congressman Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) handed back an award the organization had bestowed on him earlier this year.

Bentivolio, along with many other sitting Congressmen, received the Chamber’s “Spirit of Enterprise” award in March — an honorific that goes to elected leaders on the same policy page, more or less, as the Chamber. But Bentivolio, after considering the implications of the Chamber’s amnesty position as tens of thousands of illegal immigrants flock to the Nation’s southern border, decided last week to give the award back.

He apparently had a lot on his mind, because he lit into the Chamber with a fury.

“The U.S. Chamber is in the pocket of Communist China and big companies seeking cheap labor in the United States,” Bentivolio’s office said in a statement explaining the move. “We think it is morally repugnant for the chamber to pursue, as a matter of public policy, initiatives which exploit the poor and oppressed, just so they can keep labor costs down for their fortune 500 member companies.”

Bentivolio’s chief of staff further torched the Chamber last Thursday, telling The Daily Caller “they call it the Spirit of Enterprise award, not the Spirit of Free Enterprise award. Crony Capitalism is alive and well at the Chamber of Commerce.”

Bentivolio, who’s serving his first term in Congress, may be looking for a political lift as he heads into a late summer primary against a party challenger who’s polling 22 points ahead, has the support of the GOP establishment, and has outspent Bentivolio 20-1.

That doesn’t change the message his award give-back sends, though. At least Michigan voters know where he stands.

Audit Reveals Huge Security Gaps In USDA Data Network

An audit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Universal Telecommunications Network released Thursday by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reveals that almost half of the independent contractors sourced through an agreement with AT&T to manage the USDA’s data network do not have security clearances.

That shortcoming, the audit advised, leaves both beneficiaries of USDA programs (such as food stamps), as well as the agency itself, open to theft, abuse, sabotage and error.

The audit placed part of the blame on AT&T for failing to install “required network security features” and noted that “inadequate and outdated” billing practices, in combination with insufficient security checks, had led to $1.9 million in improper billing. It also fingers the USDA’s Chief Information Officer’s office for neglecting to enforce the terms of the $350 million contract to ensure the government was getting its money’s worth.

From the summary:

In 2010, USDA signed a multi-year task order with AT&T to provide the Universal Telecommunications Network (UTN), the data network backbone for its customers and agencies. We found that USDA is notadequately overseeing UTN security and performance. The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) staff concentrated on the operational aspects of the UTN, without placing adequate emphasis on security and task order management, and the contracting officer (CO) from the Office of Procurement and Property Management (OPPM) was not familiar with the task order. We also found that AT&T had not yet installed required network security features. This occurred because OCIO lacked sufficient controls to ensure that all task order provisions were met—for instance, the responsible CO did not have a copy of the task order 6 months after it was assigned to him. Past OIG audit recommendations were also not adequately addressed. As a result, USDA faces an increased risk of sensitive information being lost, disclosed, altered, or destroyed, and is paying for task order services that are not being provided.

The report finds fault with both the USDA and AT&T on a number of fronts:

Equipment tracking – “[O]ld, unused equipment that has been replaced by the new TIC equipment still contains sensitive USDA data because it has not been scrubbed.”

Security Clearances – “The Telecomm task order required that AT&T personnel having access to USDA data have, at a minimum, a secret level clearance with a background investigation. However, we identified 167 out of 370 contractors working on the UTN who did not have a secret level security clearance, as required.”

Contractor Access – “We found that neither AT&T nor OCIO could provide OIG an accurate listing of all AT&T personnel working on the UTN… As a result, sensitive data and systems could be at risk if accessed by unscrupulous persons.”

The audit also noted that many of the recommendations from a 2006 audit covering the USDA data network still had not been implemented as of 2014.

Full report here.

Report Questions Motives Behind Post-Midterm Timing Of Obama Administration’s Next Wave Of Regulations

A new report from the American Action Forum (AAF) suggests President Barack Obama may have had this year’s midterm elections in mind when coordinating the implementation of a bevy of new environmental, health, finance and labor regulations.

“After reviewing the administration’s most recent agenda of federal rulemakings, it appears there are at least 15 major regulations scheduled for release after the upcoming midterms,” AAF wrote in a report released Thursday. “Combined, just six of these rules could impose more than $34 billion in costs.”

AAF, which describes itself as a “center-right policy institute,” noted the $34 billion estimate may be a very conservative one. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ground-level ozone standards plan, scheduled to be published in December of this year, “actually does not have an attached cost,” AAF noted, observing that the same standards, which Obama vetoed in 2011, were projected at the time to cost $90 billion.

The report acknowledges that many of these regulations have been in the works for a long time. However, the White House has already demonstrated — as it is now doing with the EPA’s controversial carbon proposals, which are still in the public comment phase — that it may have had politics in mind, all along, by coordinating with Federal agencies to ensure unpopular policies won’t be enacted until after Election Day.

Whether that’s a coincidence is, of course, a matter of speculation. But that speculation is reasonable to anyone who observed the Obama Administration’s post-election timing of new rules back in 2012.

“Recently, numerous reports have highlighted how the White House delayed controversial regulations until after Election Day in 2012,” AAF wrote. “… Many of these [new] regulations are controversial, including the GHG [greenhouse gas] rule, and have spent years in the courts and the rulemaking process. Regardless of possible motive, if this schedule remains in place, there will be no shortage of major regulations issued immediately after Election Day.”

For a tabular breakdown of the rules changes that won’t come until after the November elections, see AAF’s full report.

Maine Governor Curbs Public Assistance To ‘Able-Bodied’ Recipients Unless They Work

Acting on the order of Republican Governor Paul LePage, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the State would stop administering Federal food stamp benefits to capable residents who do not hold jobs, receive job training or do volunteer work.

In a statement, the Governor explained his rationale, saying people in need “deserve a hand up, but we should not be giving able-bodied individuals a handout… We must protect our limited resources for those who are truly in need and who are doing all they can to be self-sufficient.”

According to Portland NBC affiliate WCSH-TV, the new rule, set to take effect on Oct. 1, applies to adult food stamp recipients who do not claim any dependents. It will require them to work or volunteer for 20 hours per week in order to continue receiving food stamps, now formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Recipients can also meet the requirement by participating in the Maine Department of Labor’s Competitive Skills Scholarship Program, which trains residents in developing practical job skills.

The SNAP program is funded by the Federal government but is administered by the States. LePage’s plan would affect approximately 12,000 Maine residents.

More from the report:

In an interview with NEWS CENTER, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew emphasized that the change only affects SNAP recipients with are not disabled, not elderly and have no dependents. She says that means it will not affect single mothers, for example. DHHS says federal law already requires work for those recipients, but Mayhew says Maine has been operating under a federal waiver since 2009. The waiver expires at the end of September and Mayhew says the state will not renew it. She says the lower unemployment rate and improving economy should make it more feasible for those people to find jobs. But DHHS is also stressing that specific education or training programs can also qualify, as can approved community service work.

Democratic elected leaders in Maine reportedly aren’t happy about the end of no-work food stamps, criticizing LePage for playing politics and neglecting the plight of poor people in the State’s rural areas, where the logistics of getting and keeping part-time work aren’t feasible for people who lack funds.

In June, LePage made a similar move to curb wasteful applications of public assistance, announcing a plan to end State benefits for illegal immigrants who reside in Maine. “[I]llegal aliens who choose to live in Maine are not our most vulnerable citizens,” LePage explained in a radio address discussing the proposal.

Interesting nugget: LePage himself reportedly was homeless as a child.

Robbers Use Gun On Gun-Free Campus To – What Else? – Rob Four Ohio Students

Guns are forbidden on the campus of the private Case Western University in Ohio, so it has some built-in value as a safe place for anybody with criminal intent against person and property.

Over the weekend, three guys concealed their faces with hoodies and bandannas, came into a common area for on-campus housing, pulled out a handgun, and robbed four unlucky (and obviously unarmed) students.

The affair took place in the middle of the day Saturday. No one was injured and, according to a reporter for the Northeast Ohio Media Group, “most of” the victims’ possessions were recovered at a nearby house.

Case Western responded predictably, issuing a statement the following Monday saying “we feel compelled to take significant immediate, short- and long-term action to increase security on campus.” The short-term answer was to place a security guard in Wade Commons, the group area where the robbery occurred and to order keycard-activated locks.

Long-term steps involve installing a door buzzer and security camera, as well as to “assess the university’s entire 500-acre campus’s perimeter, which borders several economically stressed neighborhoods in Cleveland and East Cleveland,” according to a follow-up report.

There was no mention of reevaluating the university’s gun policy.

It isn’t the first, or even the second, instance of on-campus violence this year. A woman was robbed at gunpoint in front of a campus building on June 10; another man was robbed of his cell phone in April, by a perpetrator who, according to witnesses, was carrying a pistol.