Resurrecting the Hillary Clinton-Saul Alinsky speculation machine

The right side of the political Internet is all aflutter over a story in The Washington Free Beacon connecting Hillary Clinton, circa the late 1960s, with infamous socialist fomenter Saul Alinsky. The Beacon offers “previously unpublished correspondence” between the two as a gateway to fresh insights about Clinton’s evolving political philosophy before she became somebody.

The Clinton-Alinsky letters reportedly demonstrate Hillary’s sympathy for Alinsky’s brand of social agitation, particularly since she appears to have initiated their ongoing dialog. While interning at a Berkeley, Calif. law firm in 1971, Clinton fired off this playful/serious missive:

“Dear Saul,” she began. “When is that new book [Rules for Radicals] coming out—or has it come and I somehow missed the fulfillment of Revelation?”

“I have just had my one-thousandth conversation about Reveille [for Radicals] and need some new material to throw at people,” she added, a reference to Alinsky’s 1946 book on his theories of community organizing.

Clinton also buttered Alinsky up by professing her “belief in and zest for organizing” remained strong even after finishing law school and following a more mainstream career track.

This next passage has a ring of starry-eyed religious fervor – something we’ve come to expect in the language of Islamist zealots and theocrats on social media:

The more I’ve seen of places like Yale Law School and the people who haunt them, the more convinced I am that we have the serious business and joy of much work ahead—if the commitment to a free and open society is ever going to mean more than eloquence and frustration.

So did Alinsky respond? Not so much. His secretary did though, implying that Alinsky followed and admired his young would-be disciple. “Since I know [Alinsky’s] feelings about you I took the liberty of opening your letter because I didn’t want something urgent to wait for two weeks,” Georgia Harper, Alinsky’s secretary, wrote Clinton.

All this is just an evolution of a protracted speculation about the link between Clinton and Alinsky – a line of thinking dating back at least as far as the presidency of Bill Clinton. As The Beacon story observes, Wellesley College honored the Clintons’ request to keep Hillary’s thesis discussing Alinsky’s tactics under wraps until 2001.

But just because it’s a small development doesn’t mean it’s insignificant, because connecting the dots between the Clintons’ formative political years with those who shaped their thinking will remain meaningful for as long as either Clinton seeks a public service role.

“Hillary has made much of the fact that she turned away from Alinskyite organizing to seek change from within the political system instead. What these new letters show is that this was also a change of means rather than ends,” National Review’s Stanley Kurtz wrote Monday.

“In this, Hillary has much in common with Obama and other modern Alinskyites. Alinsky wanted community organizers to shun electoral politics. Yet, as I showed in Radical-in-Chief, Alinsky’s New Left followers found ways to combine his methods with electoral politics. This synthesis of Alinskyism and electoral politics, pioneered by Alinsky’s acolytes in Chicago, is what inspired Obama’s career. Hillary was part of the same wave.”

More speculation about the extent to which Hillary straddles the line between an establishment Democrat and a progressive radical at heart… sounds like something worth paying attention to – at least for a few more years.


More MSM backlash against Obama administration’s control-freak idea of ‘transparency’

Members of the mainstream media, already incensed with the Obama administration for reneging on the president’s famous pledge to create the most transparent White House in history, met last week to lick their wounds while putting forth a new set of grievances against the aloof commander in chief.

Associated Press Washington, D.C., Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee spoke to a gathering of journalists last week in Chicago, indexing the media’s gripes with Obama in an eight-point list that it posted Friday to the AP’s blog.

It’s a list that covers familiar ground (the Bush White House was more forthcoming about Guantanamo than the Obama administration) as well as new slights (now that we’re sort of at war, Obama forbids embedded reporters in military staging areas).

But the biggest condemnation of the Obama administration’s false transparency narrative has to do with the very mechanism that affords the media its final say in gaining it: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Buzbee argued that the White House has completely perverted the intent of the FOIA law, while effectively stealing the usefulness of FOIA requests away from the media and instead milking those same requests to inform the Obama administration’s media strategy.

How could a president manage to accomplish something that sounds so sinister? By monitoring who’s filing FOIAs and making note of the information they’re seeking. Doing that gives the White House a strategic advantage in controlling spin — by using the power of the media against the media itself.

“The administration uses FOIAs as a tip service to uncover what news organizations are pursuing,” blogged Buzbee. “Requests are now routinely forwarded to political appointees. At the agency that oversees the new health care law, for example, political appointees now handle the FOIA requests.”

All of this sounds exactly right, but it also sounds risibly hypocritical to anyone convinced that the mainstream press has done all it can to accommodate a president whose agenda it largely endorses.

Maybe the Obama administration can redeem itself with a hashtag campaign joining the media’s call for greater transparency.

We suggest something like #bringbackouraccess. It’s available.

SWAT raid to shut down Twitter parody of Illinois politician was legal, judge rules

Remember the story about the guy in Illinois who ended up in jail because the mayor of Peoria was butt hurt that the guy had been parodying his administration on Twitter?

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis had gotten the local cops to stage an honest-to-God SWAT raid at the home of Jon Daniel in an effort to locate the source of the offending Twitter account. Daniel and three others went to jail — on charges of possessing marijuana and nothing else.

That all happened in April. Last week, one of Daniel’s roommates — with the drug charge still hanging over him — learned that a judge had cleared the SWAT raid as justified and legal. Full speed ahead on the felony weed bust.

From The Guardian:

A Peoria judge this week ruled that the police were entitled to raid the house on North University Street on 15 April under the town’s “false personation” law which makes it illegal to pass yourself off as a public official. Judge Thomas Keith found that police had probable cause to believe they would find materials relevant to the Twitter feed such as computers or flash drives used to create it.

Just to be clear: satire isn’t covered in Peoria under the 1st Amendment. If you skewer a public official through parody, you are not exercising a right — you are slandering him. And when the police don riot gear and bring a search warrant to your door to locate slander paraphernalia (like computers) and instead walk away with pot, it becomes a perfectly legal drug raid.

This isn’t a silver lining, but it’s bilateral damage: The Guardian reports that Peoria’s mayor is now the subject of 15 parody Twitter feeds. Too bad for Jim Ardis that Peoria’s SWAT team doesn’t have global jurisdiction.

Daily Read: The influence of Qatar on U.S. policy — and the legal loophole that encourages it

The U.S. is tough on campaign contributions from foreign governments — it’s a complete no-no. But there’s no similar restriction preventing foreign governments from funding nonprofit policy institutes in Washington, D.C.

The result, perhaps the most significant among many, is that Qatar — the “chief sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood” and the owner of Al Jazeera — has accrued immense influence over the think tanks that often marry ideas to government. It’s not the only nation to do so.

But as The Washington Free Beacon’s Matthew Continetti wrote Friday, “the money Qatar has thrown around town in recent years has created an environment where the views of its government are considered congenial, normal, an “important perspective” worthy of consideration by noted policy analysts, who just happen to become key policy makers.”

Qatar and other would-be U.S. policy shapers are taking advantage of a gap in U.S. law that’s “being exploited to an extent that mocks the very purpose” of the ban on foreign campaign contributions, Continetti writes:

Think tanks can be the vehicles for revolutions in foreign policy. The Gulf state of Qatar, for example, is one of the most generous donors to U.S. nonprofits. It “agreed last year to make a $14.8 million, four-year donation” to the Brookings Institution, the Times reports. And Brookings, in turn, “has helped fund a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world.”

I have not been asked to participate in either of these initiatives. But let me take a stab at why “United States relations with the Islamic world” are so terrible. One reason is that radical Muslims have a habit of killing innocent men, women, and children in gruesome ways, and imposing their medieval vision of society upon unwilling populations. But I would not expect the Brookings Institution to focus too much on this angle, since one of the global engines of Islamic radicalism in our time — its financier, champion, and propagandist — is none other than Qatar.

Qatar is the chief sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, the global Islamist movement whose offspring include Hamas, al Qaeda, and Islamic Jihad. Hamas’ leader, Khaled Meshal, resides in Qatar’s capital. It is a financial and ideological sponsor of Hamas — whose charter demands not only the destruction of Israel but also the removal of Jews from an Islamic “Palestine” — as well as a supporter of the Taliban, the Al-Nusra front, militias in Libya, and other armed prophets throughout the Ummah. And Qatar is the founder and owner of Al Jazeera, which pushes the Brotherhood line, and whose anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism have reached our shores in the form of Al Jazeera America.

The Qatari regime is awful. And, of course, it is authoritarian. I don’t want its agents and proxies interfering in our intellectual or policy debates, period, especially without having to tell the law enforcement officers of my country what they are doing with their money and why. The current arrangement — by which one has to read closely between the lines to detect Islamist influence in Washington — is unacceptable.

Read Continetti’s full column at The Washington Free Beacon.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t identify the three branches of government

An important midterm election is just around the corner, so it’s fortunate that the electorate is boning up on civics this year in order to make informed choices about the nation’s future.

What? What’s that, you say? Oh. Wrong electorate. Turns out, in this country, most of us know nothing about our Constitution — or how it establishes the divisions of our national government.

A survey released last week by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only 36 percent of Americans could name all three branches of government and that 35 percent “could not name a single one.”

And it’s all downhill from there.

“Just over a quarter of Americans (27 percent) know it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto,” the survey also found, along with the revelation that 20 percent believe there exists a legal intermixing between the branches of government. “One in five Americans (21 percent) incorrectly thinks that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration,” Annenberg reports.

Putting it gently, Annenberg Public Policy Center Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson suggested revisiting the way American schools teach civics.

“Although surveys reflect disapproval of the way Congress, the President and the Supreme Court are conducting their affairs, the Annenberg survey demonstrates that many know surprisingly little about these branches of government,” she wrote. “This survey offers dramatic evidence of the need for more and better civics education.”

As if on cue, Republican Arizona State Rep. Steve Montenegro last week proposed strengthening his state’s graduation requirements to include a 100-question civics test — the same one required of applicants for U.S. naturalization.

“Every single student in Arizona and across the United States of America should have basic knowledge and understanding of American government,” Montenegro explained at a press conference last Wednesday.

If you’re among those who don’t know the three branches of government, you’re off the hook on the 100-question civics test. But it might not hurt to enter some remedial civics self-education. If you’re that far behind, maybe you should start here.

Better yet, go to the source.

Sunday news show roundup

It was all ISIS, all the time on the TV news junket Sunday, with U.N. Ambassador Susan Power making not one but two visits to network news sets to advance the Obama administration’s insistence that U.S. air strikes against ISIS terrorists will be augmented by a yet-to-be-disclosed coalition featuring contributions from other nations.

Power never uttered the phrase “coalition of the willing,” but she did tell ABC’s “This Week” that other countries are on board to lend their relative might to the air campaign.

“I will make you a prediction — which is that we will not do the airstrikes alone, if the president decides to do the airstrikes,” said Power.

She never said which countries have agreed to support the U.S.-led containment effort against ISIS, but repeated her “coalition” comments on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” telling Bob Scheiffer that the U.S. would “leave it to other nations to announce for themselves what their specific commitments to the coalition are going to be.”

And so continues the Obama administration’s politics-first, outcomes-second initiative to counter ISIS.

Not that there isn’t plenty of political will from Congressmen for such an approach. Congress’ cop-out final week in Washington got virtually no coverage Sunday, upstaged instead by guest spots from hawks like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to sell the emotional side of the terrorists’ human rights abuses.

“I have a picture of what I estimate to be a 6-year-old girl in a gingham party dress: white tights, a little red band around her wrist, Mary Janes — and she’s lying on the ground and her head is gone,” Feinstein told Schieffer.

“This is the mentality of the group that we are so concerned with. They have killed thousands, they are marching on, they have an army, they are well organized.”

Former British prime minister Tony Blair indicated his country is in sync with the Obama administration’s decision to take the fight to ISIS, but suggested a real defeat would require more than just air strikes. Instead, said Blair, it would require actual fighting from western troops.

“[T]his [ISIS] problem isn’t going away,” Blair said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I think you’ll find that the policy undergoes a process of evolution, where people realize in different situations you’re having different strategies, and there may be situations in which we are prepared to use combat force. …[T]here will undoubtedly be, over time, a need to hit ISIS not simply through an aerial campaign, but also on the ground.”

Nevertheless, Blair went on to assert that western forces’ eventual defeat of ISIS should not be followed by a western occupation of Iraqi and Syrian territory left in the ensuing power vacuum.

City Considers Allowing Police Warrantless Access To Homes To Check For Underage Drinking

In a move that, if adopted, would almost certainly be brought into the courts, a northern New Jersey town is contemplating an ordinance that would grant local police access — without a search warrant — into private residences in order to check up on allegations of underage drinking.

Officials in the town of Montville, on the western edge of the New York metropolitan area’s sprawl, are discussing the new ordinance — perhaps counterintuitively — in terms of keeping underage drinking in check while helping young people avoid establishing criminal records that can follow them throughout their lives.

“While teens caught drinking face criminal charges under state law, officers under the Montville proposal could choose to let underage drinkers face lesser penalties,” CBS New York reported Thursday.

But many residents, both young and old, aren’t buying it.

“I am not in favor of them just coming into the homes, because there — other people have said — there are children that do make mistakes on various occasions, and that’s more of a parent responsibility rather than a police responsibility,” resident Anna Cecire told CBS.

“I just feel that it’s not really their business to be going into people’s houses,” echoed teenager Brendan Zevits. “If you want to do that, you need to get a warrant.”

The Montville council is expected to hammer out some reportedly gray areas in the ordinance’s language at a Sept. 23 meeting.

Of course, they could just do the sensible thing and toss this bad local law in the trash. If they don’t, it’s hard to imagine that a judge wouldn’t do it for them.

Remy Skewers Obama Administration On ISIS: Kill Them With ‘A Weapons-Grade Entitlement Program’

None of us can do anything about the Obama administration’s “arm our enemies” strategy to contain ISIS, just as we can’t do anything about Obamacare, the IRS scandal, government waste or the administration’s laughable hashtag campaigns to win the “war” on women or return female hostages from the clutches of Boko Haram.

But if the Obama administration can use social media to get its messages out, so can everyone else. Reason TV’s Remy is back today with an original satirical video mocking the absurdity and futility of the White House’s deliberative process as it tries to find political solutions to decidedly non-political problems (like ISIS).

Hilarity in the span of a minute. Tear and share.

Best line: “We should ban guns there — they’ll turn their guns in!”

Concealed Carry In Washington, D.C.? Only If You Can Convince The Cops

Washington, D.C. — already among the gun-freest of gun-free zones — is closing in on a new local law that would create an avenue for residents to obtain concealed carry permits. But it’s anything but a 2nd Amendment win.

In July, a U.S. district judge struck down the city’s ban on carrying handguns in public, sending city leaders scrambling to craft a law that brings D.C. into compliance with the court’s decision. Their solution won’t thrill many 2nd Amendment advocates: make the city a “may issue” zone.

What that means is anyone in Washington, D.C., who wishes to obtain a concealed carry permit for his handgun would have to demonstrate to law enforcement a rather extraordinary “need” for one: a death threat, a stalker, a history of abuse at the hands of a violent spouse.

As for everyone else? Don’t even bother applying.

Irvin B. Nathan, attorney general for the District of Columbia, attempted to explain this at a press conference on Wednesday. “Living in a high-crime area is not sufficient to establish the good cause,” he said. “Getting death threats, being the victim of domestic violence and having the threats or re-occurrence — that would be good cause. It has to be personalized. It has to be something specific.”

The law would open the limited path to a concealed carry permit to D.C. residents who already own a registered handgun, as well as holders of firearms permits in the states, even if they do not permanently reside in the city.

Under the “emergency” measure, which city leaders are taking in order to beat the 90-day stay of the district court decision, open carry would be outlawed. The Washington, D.C., chief of police would be responsible for issuing the concealed carry permits, which could only be obtained after the applicant completes a safety training program.

The proposal is scheduled for a Tuesday council vote, and would be in effect for 90 days from the time the mayor signs it into law.

In February, a U.S. appeals court invalidated an attempt by several California counties to defend a similar “show cause” condition for the issuance of concealed carry permits, saying the effort represents an infringement on California residents’ 2nd Amendment rights.

The Left Has An ‘Extreme’ Base Of Its Own — And It’s Not Ready For Hillary

It may not be as definable as the Tea Party (or maybe it is, if only the mainstream media would harp on it constantly), but the progressive left has an ideological base that’s busy vetting potential 2016 presidential candidates. And if their early grumblings are any indication, Hillary Clinton is too “establishment” to earn their vote of confidence.

We’ve mentioned the Google group called “Gamechanger Salon” in the past; several members of the progressive online circle are bona fide members of the mainstream press. Since news of that group’s existence first appeared, some of its insiders have begun acknowledging their deliberative process to the outside world, explaining some the ideological sine qua nons that, for them, will make the difference in whether a Democratic candidate can pass the true-believing progressive’s sniff test.

Let’s put it this way: For these people, Hillary Clinton is no deep-blue Ted Cruz. She’s more like a periwinkle Chris Christie.

The Hill examined a trove of emails exchanged among members of the Gamechanger Salon group for a Thursday piece headlined “Left blasts Clinton in secret emails,” concluding from those conversations that there’s “significant dissatisfaction” among the far left with the idea of a Hillary nomination.

But why? Because she’s too close to the middle.

“In the emails spanning over a year — starting in June 2013 through July of this year — frustration with Clinton is evident,” wrote The Hill:

Clinton’s too much of a hawk, too cozy with Wall Street, hasn’t spoken out enough on climate change, and will be subject to personal questions and criticisms, members of the group stated in the emails.

… “[A] Clinton presidency undos [sic] all our progress and returns the financial interests to even more prominence than they currently have,” Melissa Byrne, an activist with the Occupy Wall Street movement, said in a November 2013 email.

… “I also came to know how close she was to the pro-Wall Street forces inside the administration and out, and the downsides on foreign policy are all very real. So I will hesitate for a long time before jumping into her campaign,” [Democratic strategist Mike] Lux wrote in a group email.

… One of Clinton’s biggest critics among the group is Guy Saperstein, a major Democratic donor and part owner of the Oakland Athletics baseball team.

In emails, Saperstein called a report out in December of last year that Clinton offered a “reassuring” message to Goldman Sachs executives “horrific,” and slammed her for “ducking a lot of issues, like the Keystone pipeline.”

You get the idea. Clinton is the establishment candidate.

So who does the far left seem to want? The Hill points to Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren’s been exceedingly demure about seeking the presidential nomination.

But she was also on Letterman this month. Hmm.

Does It Bother You That Boehner Probably Isn’t Going Anywhere As House Speaker?

Whatever happens to the Senate majority after November’s midterms, it’s a sure bet that the GOP House majority is untouchable. As the elections inch closer, and as Congress takes a super-early break for campaigning, it’s almost equally assured that Congressman John Boehner (R-Ohio) won’t be losing his grip on the Speaker’s gavel once the dust clears.

Boehner, fresh off a last-minute, pre-break legislative compromise that saw the funding of Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and the president’s still-evolving arms alliance with Syrian “moderates” to combat ISIS, is quietly riding a pre-election strategy of see-no-evil, do-no-evil for GOP incumbents who just want to win this fall without rocking the boat.

“House Republicans are not touting a national manifesto ahead of the midterm elections, as they did with 1994’s Contract with America,” The Washington Post observed today. “Their plan to offer a replacement for President Obama’s health-care law has fizzled.

“The sudden elevation of Boehner, 64, is surprising for a party overloaded with tea party stars and White House hopefuls. Yet in a summer of Republican unease and tumult, Boehner’s workmanlike manner and institutional standing has led to a string of successes and new-found support.”

It’s a perfect situation for Boehner, who sees no need to whip up a conservative-ideology offensive against languishing Democrats — even though doing so would put them further on their heels.

In other words, Boehner’s the perfect guy to remain in charge if all the GOP cares about is playing not to lose.


More Stonewalling From Eric Holder To Conceal Fast And Furious Papers

The Department of Justice has filed yet another request to forestall a court order that could require the release of tens of thousands of pages’ worth of documents pertaining to the Operation Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal — a scandal that’s dogged the Obama administration since ATF whistleblowers first approached Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) with their concerns about the secret program in early 2011.

The DOJ filed a request Monday before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, asking the court to allow the department to keep under wraps more than 60,000 pages of Fast and Furious documents until the appeals process following her ruling on whether the documents are protected under executive privilege — if it is an unfavorable one for the DOJ — has run its course.

In other words, the DOJ is asking the court to let the documents stay hidden not only while it argues they’re protected under executive privilege, but even for the duration of the inevitable appeal the department would file if Jackson decides they aren’t covered under executive privilege, as both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have maintained.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wants the documents, but Holder and Obama have so far successfully stalled their release — even after the House held Holder in contempt for refusing to hand them over in 2012.

Jackson has previously demonstrated no special deference to the Obama administration, ordering the DOJ last month to hand over an itemized listing of the documents in question — but not (yet) the documents themselves — by Oct. 1.

The scandal came to light following the death of border patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010. Terry was murdered in a gunfight with alleged illegal immigrants; two guns connected with the Fast and Furious operation were later discovered at the crime scene.

A number of ATF agents, alarmed at Terry’s death and convinced that the gunwalking strategy was undermining its purpose, approached Grassley with their information in early 2011, leading to a congressional investigation.

Court Denies Qualified Immunity For Police Who SWAT-Stormed Florida Barber Shop To Conduct Licensing ‘Inspection’

Law enforcement officers who conducted a warrantless SWAT-style raid on an Orlando barber shop, ostensibly to help inspectors conduct a routine occupational licensing exam, violated the proprietors’ 4th Amendment rights and are not protected from personal liability under the qualified immunity doctrine.

So ruled the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta on Tuesday, harshly condemning Orange County, Florida, officers for their 2010 raid of the Strictly Skillz barber shop — a staged event the court compared to “a scene right out of a Hollywood movie.” That’s how the court began its 44-page ruling:

It was a scene right out of a Hollywood movie. On August 21, 2010, after more than a month of planning, teams from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office descended on multiple target locations. They blocked the entrances and exits to the parking lots so no one could leave and no one could enter. With some team members dressed in ballistic vests and masks, and with guns drawn, the deputies rushed into their target destinations, handcuffed the stunned occupants — and demanded to see their barbers’ licenses. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office was providing muscle for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s administrative inspection of barbershops to discover licensing violations.

What’s incredible about this show of force is that the inspectors had visited the same business only two days before — without the muscle — and discovered the shop was in total compliance with all occupational licensing requirements. No violations whatsoever. Reason reports that the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is authorized “to conduct such inspections only once every two years.” Yet there they were again, two days after finding everything aboveboard, with a small army of police. The cops told customers to leave immediately and handcuffed Brian Berry, Strictly Skillz’ owner, as well as two barbers.

The entire hit had been an orchestrated effort to discover evidence of illegal activity that had nothing to do with occupational licensing — though that was the cover story for the raid — and everything to do with contraband. Berry sued the police and the police appealed, arguing their actions were within the scope of legal searches (Really? Without a warrant?) and the officers protected from personal liability under the qualified immunity doctrine.

No way, said the court.

We first held nineteen years ago that conducting a run-of-the-mill administrative inspection as though it is a criminal raid, when no indication exists that safety will be threatened by the inspection, violates clearly established Fourth Amendment rights. …We reaffirmed that principle in 2007 when we held that other deputies of the very same Orange County Sheriff’s Office who participated in a similar warrantless criminal raid under the guise of executing an administrative inspection were not entitled to qualified immunity. …Today, we repeat that same message once again. We hope that the third time will be the charm.

… [T]he plaintiffs contend that the search of Strictly Skillz, which they allege was undertaken with an inordinate display of force, failed to conform to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for reasonableness. Because we have twice held, on facts disturbingly similar to those presented here, that a criminal raid executed under the guise of an administrative inspection is constitutionally unreasonable, we agree.

…It has long been clearly established that a warrantless administrative inspection must be narrowly tailored to the administrative need that justifies it. Here — where the authorized purpose of the inspection was simply to check for barbering licenses and sanitation violations, and there is no indication that the defendants had any reason to believe that the inspection would be met with violence — the manner in which the supposed inspection of Strictly Skillz was undertaken was unreasonable from its inception and was, in fact, a search. Our cases and those of the Supreme Court have long and repeatedly put officers on notice of these facts. Because, under the facts alleged by the plaintiffs in this case, Vidler and Leslie were active participants in the unconstitutional search of Strictly Skillz, a jury could find them liable for the plaintiffs’ resulting constitutional injuries.

Decisions like this, precipitated by lawsuits over illegal searches, need to happen much more often.

Read much more on the court’s decision at Reason, with plenty of backstory here.

House Votes To Audit The Fed

Ron Paul tried this in 2012. Now the House of Representatives is trying again, with some Senate support from Paul’s son Rand: passing a law requiring the comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office to audit the Federal Reserve.

The House voted 333-92 today in favor of a bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), that would expose the Federal Reserve to an audit that delves further into the Fed’s monetary policymaking process and market operations than the current annual audit built into the board’s oversight. Only one Republican congressman voted against the bill; 106 Democrats voted in favor of it also.

As he did in 2012 to advance his father’s efforts, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

Rand Paul justified the need for additional scrutiny and accountability in a lengthy January rant:

[D]on’t let anyone tell you we already have an audit of the Fed. No meaningful audit of the Fed exists and when the primary auditor and overseer of the Fed was asked about $9 trillion dollars, the Inspector General had no clue what had been purchased with $9 trillion dollars. Is there a chance, that the Fed only has our best interests at heart? Sure. But when trillions of dollars change hands, wouldn’t you want to know who got the money and did anyone enrich themselves in the process? $9 trillion is over half of our entire national debt. This is money that is being doled out, in secret, by our central bank. This is, in a sense, laundering money from the American people to bail out big banks and Wall Street.

… The purpose of my bill is to eliminate the current restrictions on GAO audits of the Fed, along with mandating that the Federal Reserve’s credit facilities, securities purchases, and quantitative easing activities become subject to Congressional oversight. Looking into what the Federal Reserve does with our money has significant support from both parties, many members of which have heard the same concerns back home in their states and districts. The Federal Reserve is one of the most secretive institutions in our history. For decades, the people in charge at the Fed, politicians and various “experts” have insisted that such secrecy was integral to its independence and effectiveness.

I can see no reason why the American public should not be allowed to see behind the veil of secrecy at the Fed.

Paul’s full remarks are archived at Breitbart TV.

Obama Administration Begins Collecting Ethnic Data On Gun Buyers

It’s a felony to lie when you fill out ATF Form 4473, the info sheet the federal government requires prospective gun buyers to use when attempting a purchase from any federally licensed reseller.

Form 4473 is required before a federal background check can commence via the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and it asks people things about themselves that the government — if it were to magically begin abiding by the 2nd Amendment — would not ask.

But the Obama administration has modified the form in order to glean even more information about gun buyers, and it made the change in relative silence. Perhaps that’s why stories about outraged gun owners are just now making the rounds, even though the form was amended back in 2012.

It’s a subtle change, and one many people may not have noticed, if they’ve ever had to fill out the form more than once. Before 2012, Form 4473 asked “applicants” (an absurd term for an American citizen intending to buy a gun) to identify their race. Since 2012, the form asks for both racial and ethnic background information.

From The Washington Times, which first reported on the fresh backlash Tuesday:

The Obama administration quietly has been forcing new gun buyers to declare their race and ethnicity, a policy change that critics say provides little law enforcement value while creating the risk of privacy intrusions and racial profiling.

With little fanfare, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2012 amended its Form 4473 — the transactional record the government requires gun purchasers and sellers to fill out when buying a firearm — to identify buyers as either Hispanic, Latino or not. Then a buyer must check his or her race: Indian, Asian, black, Pacific Islander or white.

… On its prior 4473 forms, the bureau had been collecting race data.

One such critic, New Jersey attorney Evan Nappen, surely has the right of it when he finds only a political motive for the change.

“This issue concerns me deeply because, first, it’s offensive, and, secondly, there’s no need for it. If there’s no need for an amendment, then there’s usually a political reason for the change. What this indicates is it was done for political reasons, not law enforcement reasons,” Nappen told The Times.

We’ve featured Nappen before, and he perfectly diluted the way in which government foments and capitalizes on a fear culture surrounding firearms with this pithy phrase: “I do think we’ve gotten to a point where common sense is uncommon.”

What other reason, then, could there be? Is it a civil rights thing?

“If there is a civil rights enforcement reason for the ATF to collect this data, I have not heard that explanation from ATF or any other federal agency,” Laura Murphy of the American Civil Liberties Union told The Times.

In a separate but related story, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced a bill on Wednesday that aims to do away with the ATF. Sensenbrenner called the bureau a “largely duplicative, scandal-ridden agency that lacks a clear mission.”

Good thing he’s not an anonymous blogger. Those sound like some pretty extreme words.


Cop’s Teenage Son In Coma After Run-In With The Law

After being stopped by police because the car he was driving matched an outstanding warrant for a woman, a 17-year-old boy ended up stunned with a Taser, on the ground and in the hospital, where medical staff had to induce a coma to stabilize the injuries he allegedly suffered at the hands of the Independence, Missouri, police.

The Kansas City Star reported that the FBI has launched an investigation into the incident and that “Independence police said that they would cooperate ‘hand-in-hand’ with the federal investigation and the officer had been placed on administrative leave.”

The boy, Bryce Masters, is the son of a police officer in nearby Kansas City. He was allegedly driving alone Sunday afternoon in a vehicle whose license plate matched that of a woman whom the police had been hunting.

She wasn’t in the car, and Masters reportedly couldn’t get his window to roll down when ordered to do so by Independence officer Tim Runnels. The Star cites witnesses who indicate Runnels appeared frustrated that Masters wasn’t rolling down his window, and that Runnels’ subsequent alleged actions appeared to show him taking that frustration out on the boy:

Police said the stun gun was used on the teen while he was still in the car. At some point, Masters got out of the car under his own power but later fell to the ground, Maj. Paul Thurman said.

…Witnesses said police overreacted.

‘Several times, the cop put his foot on the kid like he was stepping on his neck, but it was on his back,’ said Robert Baker, who lives nearby. ‘I think (the officer) was wrong, because the kid tried to explain to him that his window won’t roll down.’

Others said that Masters, who was in the neighborhood to visit a classmate, did not resist when Runnels pulled him over. They said Masters told the officer that the car’s window would not roll down.

Another witness said she saw Runnels drag Masters into a driveway and drop him, causing Masters’ head to hit the pavement. Masters was listed late Monday in critical condition at a nearby hospital.

“Independence police have firmly defended the actions of Officer Tim Runnels, saying he used a stun gun on the 17-year-old in accordance with department policy,” KCTV News reported Monday. “Runnels has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is routine in cases like this.”

Get Ready For A Shift In The Gun Control Narrative: Scary-Looking Guns Are Out; Handguns Are In

Progressive efforts to take firearms from the hands of law-abiding citizens may be rounding a corner in the arms race of government overreach. A new report from ProPublica and The New York Times suggests gun control advocates may be turning their attention away from the failed narrative against intimidating-looking assault weapons, raising the specter of a new menace to take their place: handguns.

Using data that’s been available anytime they cared to look, the reporters stumbled across this well-known fact:

“It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do.”

Whoa, dude.

Read far enough, and the article gets around to acknowledging the inconvenient truth that homicides in which guns were used have declined steadily and dramatically over the past 20 years. But the authors don’t pair that information with another significant fact: Americans — already ahead of other developed nations in per-capita gun ownership — are buying more and more guns, even as the so-called “gun murder” rate has declined.

The article’s one observation that merits much more attention from the left is this:

“Annually, 5,000 to 6,000 black men are murdered with guns. Black men amount to only 6 percent of the population. Yet of the 30 Americans on average shot to death each day, half are black males.

“… Even as homicide rates have held steady or declined for most Americans over the last decade, for black men the rate has sometimes risen. But it took a handful of mass shootings in 2012 to put gun control back on Congress’s agenda.”

Oh, so there’s a political component to this whole gun control thing? An insincere, dishonest one — one that ignores cultural problems that progressive policies (policies that have nothing to do with guns) have only fomented and exacerbated?

The authors didn’t say that. But it’s between every line of the progressive gun control agenda.

Something Stinks: Liberals, Conservatives Have Different, Distinct Smells

This is too easy. There’s a new study out that asserts conservatives and liberals don’t smell the same. Not only that — the study claims that sensitive noses can pick up on the smell of politically like-minded people, and differentiate that smell from that of people who hold political views with which they don’t agree.

The American Journal of Political Science has published the findings of an academic study called “Assortative Mating on Ideology Could Operate Through Olfactory Cues,” which claims that “[a] growing body of evidence reveals that the mechanisms that account for differences in ideological attitudes are genetically and biologically influenced and conscript olfactory processes.”

In other words, people use their sense of smell, whether they realize it or not, to detect when they’re in the company of someone who thinks as they do.

Implicit in the findings are that people unsurprisingly prefer to hang out with others who share their views — in part because they find their scent more agreeable than those whose views differ from their own.

The nuts-and-bolts research behind this study truly smells. Test subjects had to live with stink-collecting armpit pads attached to their bodies for 24 hours, then remit those pads so that they could be sniffed by a separate group of participants, who indicated the degree to which they found those smells agreeable. Then the political ideologies of members from each group were factored in, and — well, you nose the rest.

Similar research has uncovered other sensory and behavioral differences between conservatives and liberals. “Conservatives will look at an unpleasant image 15 percent longer than liberals, and they’re also more likely to keep an organized dorm room in college,” The Week reported Tuesday. “In fact, one study showed that conservatives are more generally conscientious and liberals are more open to new experiences. Libertarians display some psychological aspects of both groups, albeit with a far lighter helping of respect for authority.”

Democrats Leading Push For Legal Parity Between Citizens And Illegal Aliens In New York

Ahead of a general election that could flip control of the New York State Senate to the Democratic Party, right-leaning media outlets are beginning to take note of an already-active bill that seeks to immensely expand the state’s legal accommodation for illegal immigrants — up to and including the right to run for public office — simply by recognizing them as “New York State Citizens.”

Sounds like a case for the Department of Justice.

Done laughing? The “New York is Home” bill, introduced in June by Democratic state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, would bestow a bounty of citizens’ rights on illegals who’ve made New York their home. The law “would bar police from releasing any information about them to the feds, unless it involves a criminal warrant unrelated to their immigration status,” the New York Post wrote Monday. “Under the proposed legislation, undocumented immigrants could also apply for professional licenses and serve on juries.”

It would also grant them the right to vote (but not in Federal elections) and even to run for office, according to Bloomberg.

That all sounds ambitious and far-flung until you read the bill, which begins by flatly stating its purpose: “To establish New York State citizenship, regardless of immigration status, and providing certain rights and benefits to persons with such citizenship.”

Is it a stunt? Well, California along with several other states have already moved to grant drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants. And Democratic officials in New York aren’t ramping up the rhetoric into Harry Reid-worthy hyperbole; rather, they’re speaking in reserved, realistic tones about the likelihood of its passage and enactment. “The bill would have a better shot at passing with a Democratic Senate,” one legislator told the Post.

Republicans are taking it seriously, too. “This bill could pass if the Democrats are in charge of the Senate,” state Sen. Marty Golden told the paper. “They’re out of their minds…This is astounding. This undermines our nation’s immigration laws and procedures.”

Will Militia Plan To Block Border Bridges Lead To Standoff With Police?

This Saturday, a U.S. militia group will attempt to block the flow of traffic along one or more bridges connecting Mexico and the United States. At least, that’s the message the group allegedly has been sending since last week. What isn’t known is whether such an effort will actually materialize and, if it does, how it will play out as local and federal law enforcement look on.

And despite their limitations on enforcing portions of U.S. immigration law as elected official play fast and loose politics with the sworn duties of officers in the field, there is indeed a heavy law enforcement presence near designated international crossings.

“The region is currently jammed packed [sic] with law enforcement,” Breitbart News wrote in a Sunday piece anticipating the potential standoff.

“In addition to the normal compliment [sic] of local, state, and federal police, there are currently surge operations in place that have brought in over 2,000 people to protect the region; Ranging from additional border patrol officers, to the surge of Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, to the recent deployment of 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard.”

What’s more, law enforcement asserts that it knows the militia is coming — at least, that it has promised to come. That builds tension into an event ahead of its unfolding, regardless of how it actually does (or does not) play out. International bridges aren’t exactly the most expedient routes for illegal immigrants to brave as they contemplate sneaking into the U.S., but they do facilitate millions of dollars’ worth of commerce between Mexico and the U.S. each day.

“We will not allow these groups to disrupt the economic commerce of our region and we are prepared to use force to keep the bridges open,” one unnamed officer told Breitbart. He also went on to assess the plan put forward by the militia as “lawless.”

Which militia — or militias — are these? The original story about Saturday’s expected blockade came from KRGV News in Weslaco, Texas, and it reported on only one militia — without naming names:

Officials say they received word that members of a militia are threatening to block ports of entry.

In Starr County, international bridge authorities met with Customs and Border Protection officials Thursday. Their goal was to discuss the potential problem and find a plan of action.

Starr County has international bridges in Rio Grande City, Roma and Falcon Dam.

Officials received word that members of a militia plan to protest illegal crossings by blocking traffic on Sept. 20.

Breitbart went on to allude to “militia groups” in its report, but didn’t elaborate further.

So far, only representatives from law enforcement appear to be talking with the media, which some observers believe raises questions about the intent and the veracity of the original report.

The Replacement For Fingerprinting? FBI Facial Recognition Program Set To Supplant Current ID Methods

Facial recognition technology and surveillance have been cohabiting for a long time, but today the FBI announced it’s officially wedding itself to a $1 billion program intended to help supplant older, traditional methods (think: fingerprinting) of identifying and tracking individuals.

The new facial recognition system is to be deployed alongside other features in the ongoing rollout of the FBI’s so-called “Next Generation Identification” program, a biometric detection infrastructure which relies on big data to more reliably (according to the FBI) identify and keep tabs on surveillance subjects.

“The vast majority of records contained in the NGI database will be of US citizens,” the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) writes:

The system will include facial recognition capabilities to analyze collected images. Millions of individuals who are neither criminals nor suspects will be included in the database. Many of these individuals will be unaware that their images and other biometric identifiers are being captured. Drivers license photos and other biometric records collected by civil service agencies could be added to the system. The NGI system could be integrated with other surveillance technology, such as Trapwire, that would enable real-time image-matching of live feeds from CCTV surveillance cameras. The Department of Homeland Security has expended hundreds of millions of dollars to establish state and local surveillance systems, including CCTV cameras that record the routine activities of millions of individuals. There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras in the United States. The NGI system will be integrated with CCTV cameras operated by public agencies and private entities.

Moreover, third parties are already attempting to develop crime prevention platforms that could make the FBI’s next-generation program seem antiquated. Check this out.


As The Hill reported Monday, the FBI is denying that it will collect and store information on citizens not under suspicion of criminal activity. But that hasn’t assuaged the concerns of a burgeoning grass-roots anti-surveillance culture in the U.S., which is attempting to develop low-tech methods of its own to thwart unconstitutional mass surveillance — even if it entails making yourself look ridiculous in the process.

Nevada Scraps Do-Over For Failed State Healthcare Exchange

Nevada abandoned its contract with a company to run its failed state Obamacare exchange back in May, waving goodbye to $75 million in wasted contract money in the process. The plan was to shift everyone buying Obamacare coverage over to, take a breath and recommit to crafting a new state exchange that could deploy in time for next year’s open enrollment period.

Instead, Nevada’s Silver State Health Insurance Exchange board voted to stop looking for a new vendor to build a new state exchange, and just use the exchange permanently. Insurance customers in Nevada will still access the enrollment backbone by visiting the state’s Nevada Health Link site, but underpinning it will be the same software and database system employed by the federal Obamacare exchange.

That’s a calculated gamble, since isn’t secure. But for the state exchange board, it has become a case of refusing to throw good money after bad.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week:

Shawna DeRousse, chief operating officer of the exchange, said Nevada Health Link enrollments had dwindled to 34,000, down from 38,000 earlier this summer, and sign-ups may drop more as customers face re-enrollment in November. If member counts drop, the state may not be able to support a third switch. Moving onto the federal website will cost an additional $25 million for the state Division of Health and Human Services, which runs Nevada Medicaid. The state’s General Fund must match $3 million of that.

Said the exchange report: “If the next open enrollment is not successful, there is no guarantee that implementing a third system within three years would produce a successful result. Additionally, if the current federal infrastructure fails, it fails nationally, and federal resources will be utilized to fix the system. No additional state funding would be required to remain on the system, given current legislative status.”

There’s nothing like pinning your hopes on an inevitable loser, only to enjoy the benefit of having someone else take the blame for the mess.

Nevada residents filed a class action suit against Nevada Health Link in April, claiming they were paying for coverage they weren’t receiving, thanks to the site’s inability to correctly process and track enrollments.

As the nationwide 2015 enrollment period inches closer, expect a revival of the daily Obamacare horror stories that dominated the news late last year.

“It’s been pretty quiet lately on the Obamcare front… So quiet, that there has been a flurry of articles recently over how Obamacare has dropped to a second or even third tier issue and will hardly matter come election-time,” health policy researcher Bob Laszewski blogged last week. “The last couple of months have been very quiet for Obamacare… That is about to end.”

Missouri Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto Of Bill Permitting Armed Teachers

Both chambers of the Missouri legislature this week accomplished an override of Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill expanding both concealed and open carry rights at schools in the Show Me State.

Nixon had vetoed S.B. 656 in July, arguing that training educational staff to carry concealed firearms on campus “would not make our schools safer” and that only school resource officers should be allowed to possess weapons on school grounds.

The bill  provides for school boards to designate “one or more school teachers or administrators as a school protection officer” after holding a public hearing, requiring the employee to complete a MPOSTC-approved training program, and sharing all information about the resource officers with the state Department of Public Safety. It also provides criminal penalties if a school protection officer fails to secure his weapon while at work.

The Senate overturned Nixon on a partisan 23-8 vote. The House followed suit a day later, overriding the veto Thursday on a bipartisan 117-39 vote.

The bill also does a number of other things, as summarized by The Missouri Times’ Collin Reischman:

An omnibus bill dealing with firearms, Nixon vetoed this bill for it’s provisions allowing schools to designate and train a “school protection officer,” to legally carry a firearm on school property. The bill also lowers the minimum age for a CCW permit from 21 to 19. The bill also prohibits health care professionals from asking about requiring asking a patient about firearm ownership or recording and/or reporting such ownership to a government entity. The bill also addresses so-called “open carry” law. Under the bill, local governments will not be able to prohibit CCW holders from engaging in open carry practices. Democratic Senators Scott Sifton and Jolie Justus spent nearly two hours discussing the bill in a semi-filibuster. The bill ultimately passed by a vote of 23-8 along party lines.

All of those provisions are reinstated by the veto override. S.B. 656 will take effect in Missouri.