Senator’s Proposal Would Put Government In Charge Of Defining, Finding And Prosecuting ‘Hate Speech’

Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is behind a piece of legislation designed to hand government the power to codify, seek out and prosecute “hate speech” on TV, radio and online, proposing a bill he said last week would make “crystal clear that any recommendations must be consistent with the First Amendment’s free speech protections.”

Sounds paradoxical – and a host of critics agree.

Harvard law professor and heavily-quoted legal pundit Alan Dershowitz told the Boston Herald the bill’s intentions are impossible to reconcile with a Bill of Rights that placed the absolute freedom of speech at the top of the list of essential civil liberties.

“He’s not going to be able to come up with legislation that sufficiently protects the First Amendment,” said Dershowitz. “We always have to be able to respond to the racists and bigots, but not at the expense of the First Amendment.”

The Markey bill is based on a proposed government study Markey supported back in the early 1990s that, at the time, concluded that actual crimes that could be linked to so-called “hate speech” promulgated through media outlets amounted to a smattering of “largely anecdotal” incidents.

Nevertheless, Markey’s bill – which is co-sponsored in the House by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) – aims to put the Department of Justice and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in charge of defining hate speech and of recommending to Congress which Federal agency, or agencies, should be tasked with trolling the Internet and scanning radio talk shows for prosecutable offenses.

Civil liberties attorney Harvey A. Silvergate told the Boston Herald that’s simply a ludicrous idea – but he and other Bill of Rights advocates warn that the public should not dismiss the threat of such proposals becoming law just because they sound silly.

“This proposed legislation is worse than merely silly. It is dangerous,” he said. “It is not up to Senator Markey, nor to the federal government, to define for a free people what speech is, and is not, acceptable.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Slams Media Culture Of Racial Sanctimony

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is, like many famous people, plenty mad at Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for saying some pretty inflammatory things about black people and the sport he loves. But he’s equally angry at the mainstream media for dive-bombing Sterling’s racist remarks like vultures, eager to gorge themselves on more of their own false sanctimony.

Abdul-Jabbar had a column in Time Monday that should be required reading for anyone thinking about taking a job as a race-baiting TV talking head. He quickly acknowledged that Sterling said stupid and racist things (duh), then got to the point: the media is full of hypocrites who long ago traded in any ambition to report real news for scintillating talking points that rely upon the ceaseless massaging of American racism’s desiccated corpse for one more wisp of righteous indignation.

“The whole country has gotten a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome from the newest popular sport of Extreme Finger Wagging,” he wrote. “Not to mention the neck strain from Olympic tryouts for Morally Superior Head Shaking. All over the latest in a long line of rich white celebrities to come out of the racist closet.”

Sure, Sterling comes across as bad as he possibly can, Jabbar said. But what about everyone around him – all the people who are undoubtedly happy to profit from the fallout from his having said such vile things?

Man, what a winding road she [Sterling’s much younger girlfriend] led him down to get all of that out. She was like a sexy nanny playing “pin the fried chicken on the Sambo.” She blindfolded him and spun him around until he was just blathering all sorts of incoherent racist sound bites that had the news media peeing themselves with glee.

They caught big game on a slow news day, so they put his head on a pike, dubbed him Lord of the Flies, and danced around him whooping.

… Suddenly he says he doesn’t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and rope. Shouldn’t we have all called for his resignation back then?

Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media? Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizen’s privacy in such an un-American way? Although the impact is similar to Mitt Romney’s comments that were secretly taped, the difference is that Romney was giving a public speech. The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime. We didn’t steal the cake but we’re all gorging ourselves on it.

“So,” he concludes, “if we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars’.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban – himself a maverick among a constellation of high-profile sports conformists, said Monday it would be unwise to succumb to the mainstream media’s fascination with making people pay for what they say, instead of what they do.

“I think there’s a constitution for a reason, right? Because this is a very slippery slope,” said Cuban. “What Donald [Sterling] said was wrong. It was abhorrent. There’s no place for racism in the NBA, any business I’m associated with, and I don’t want to be associated with people who have that position.

“But at the same time, that’s a decision I make. I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It’s a very, very slippery slope.”

Email Shows Blaming Benghazi Attack On ‘The Video’ Was Obama Administration’s Idea

A top Obama Administration official strongly urged Susan Rice, National Security Advisor at the time of the Benghazi, Lybia terror attack on Sept. 11, 2012, to go before the press and blame the strike on grass-roots Islamist backlash against “The Innocence of Muslims,” a satirical YouTube video.

According to a White House email obtained by Judicial Watch, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes specifically fingered the video on Sept. 14, 2012 as a talking point Rice should focus on when making the obligatory TV news junket following the attack. Oh, and the email unswervingly calls what happened “protests,” not a terror attack, or even, simply, an “attack.”

Under the ‘Goals’ outline in the State Department email – an email specifically created to dictate talking points for media to consume – the video stands alone as a named culprit. The purpose of Rhodes’ memo was to “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy…”

That email was sent out on a Friday. By Sunday, Rice was in songbird mode.

One of the talking points (Rhodes calls them “Top-lines”) that Rice was instructed to play up was to focus on the video as the villain simply by denouncing it.

Only twice does Rhodes advise using speech that would denounce the attack at all, and then only in flyover language that puts the blame back on that dastardly video. “[W]e’ve encouraged leaders around the globe to speak out against the violence, and you’ve seen very important statements in the Muslim world by people like Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, President Morsi of Egypt, and others who have condemned the violence and called for a peaceful response,” Rhodes wrote.

The State Department’s real outrage is focused on the bad guys who would foment unrest in Islamists who can’t help themselves by making such hurtful and offensive video clips:

 [W]e’ve made our views on this video crystal clear. The United States government had nothing to do with it. We reject its message and its contents. We find it disgusting and reprehensible. But there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence.

And on and on.

Well, there’s confirmation that the Obama Administration was behind the whole “blame the video” narrative.

But the question remains: why in the hell was the State Department even talking about a video?

Read the entire bevy of emails Judicial Watch obtained here – the Rhodes memo is on page 14. Elsewhere, expect a lot of white boxes where the words are supposed to go.

Reid Sets Up Promised Vote To Increase Minimum Wage To $10.10

Fresh off a two-week Easter break, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wasted no time Monday laying the groundwork for a promised Democrat-backed minimum wage increase proposal that could see a floor vote as early as this week.

Media observers are viewing the inevitable vote on Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) bill, which would increase the mandatory Federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour, as an election-year sacrificial lamb with little chance of actually succeeding before Congress.

The Wall Street Journal’s Siobahn Hughes wrote Sunday that the bill is likely to be defeated in the Democrat-majority Senate, and is almost certain never even to be brought up in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Instead, Democrats who go down swinging with the bill are expecting their staged failure to boost their prospects among potential voters once the primary season moves on toward this year’s general election.

“A March Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 58% of people would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, while 29% would be less likely,” Hughes wrote. But “[s]ome people rethink their support for a minimum-wage increase when told it would result in job losses, a poll conducted for Bloomberg News in early March found.”

That could mean Democrats will see diminishing political returns from any collapse in a minimum wage bill before the party primaries take place, since the minimum wage issue isn’t meant to drive a wedge between incumbent Democrats and their party challengers, but between incumbent Democrats and the Republican challengers – most of whom smell blood in the water – they’ll have to face in November.

Nevertheless, Reid moved on Monday to file cloture on Harkin’s bill, clearing it a path for a floor vote as early as Thursday. It would take at least five Republican crossover votes in the Senate to ensure a victory.

 

Tennessee Deputy Fired For Choking Nonresistant Handcuffed Student Until He Passes Out

A Tennessee Sheriff’s office has fired a deputy whose excessive actions against a compliant detainee were photographed and circulated on the Internet over the weekend. The pictures appear to show the deputy methodically choking a handcuffed University of Tennessee student until the young man drops unconscious to his knees.

Knox County, Tenn. Sheriff J.J. Jones fired deputy Frank Phillips, a 24-year veteran of the department, after British publication the Daily Mail published pictures that freelance photographer John Messner had taken of the incident.

In the photos, 21 year-old student Jarod Dotson is shown standing in handcuffs next to the 47 year-old Phillips, who reaches up to apply force to Dotson’s throat. Dotson never appears to resist any of Phillips’ actions – indeed, he never even appears to take a step until his body begins to buckle as he loses consciousness. Dotson was allegedly among several unruly partygoers in the Fort Sanders area of Knoxville Saturday, where police responded at a massive party at a private residence and reportedly were greeted by an undisclosed number of intoxicated students throwing beer bottles.

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It’s not known whether Dotson was among those who allegedly taunted the deputies. But it’s clear from the photographs that he had been safely subdued by the deputies when Phillips began choking him. The images of Phillips’ handling of Dotson, as well as the photographer’s eyewitness account, are not consistent with the police report, which alleges Dotson “began to physically resist officers’ instructions.”

Sheriff Jones did not delay action, firing Phillips Sunday and placing two other deputies on administrative leave while the department conducts an investigation.

“In my 34 years of law enforcement experience, excessive force has never been tolerated,” said Jones, who’s up for reelection this year, in a statement to media. “After an investigation by the Office of Professional Standards, I believe excessive force was used in this incident. Therefore, Officer Phillips’ employment with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office is terminated immediately. The investigation will now be turned over to the Knox County Attorney General’s Office to determine any further action.”

Dotson, who was charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, and was freed after posting a $500 bond Sunday morning.

Congress Passes Tax Transparency Bill, Moves To Obama For Signature

A bill that aims to give American taxpayers a clearer understanding of what their government-confiscated wealth is paying for cleared its final hurdle in Congress today, when the House approved the so-called Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) on a voice vote.

The bill, which the Senate approved in an amended form earlier this month, now moves to the Executive Branch to await President Obama’s decision on whether to sign it into law.

Under DATA, the Federal government’s various agencies would be legally bound to publish their expenditures – including contracted services and agency borrowing – on usaspending.gov. It also would require the Office of Management and Budget to set up a program intended, once it moves beyond the pilot stage, to eliminate confusing redundancies in agency reporting standards.

The bill, which drew bipartisan support in a 388-1 vote Monday, should allow Americans who want to know how tax money is apportioned to more readily understand whether “their taxpayer dollars are being wasted or if they’re being spent wisely,” according to Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Oversight Committee.

According to a synopsis reported by Federal Times, the DATA act would also:

  • Set governmentwide financial data standards to make all spending data adhere to a uniform set of guidelines.
  • Require Inspectors General at each agency to provide reports on the quality and accuracy of the financial data.
  • Establish a cutting-edge data analytics center modeled after the Recovery Act that would help identify and prevent improper payments and expand analytic efforts across the government by serving agency leaders, inspectors general and watchdog groups.

Holder To Launch Grant-Funded Database To Eradicate Racial Bias In Law Enforcement

Attorney General Eric Holder announced another government initiative in the Obama Administration’s ongoing effort to obligate media to continue talking about U.S. racial relations Monday, unveiling a grant program that will award cities money to participate in a race-tracking law enforcement database.

“Noting that African-American and Hispanic males are arrested at disproportionately high rates, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that the Justice Department will seek to collect data about stops, searches and arrests as part of a larger effort to analyze and reduce the possible effect of bias within the criminal justice system,” the Department of Justice announced in a statement on its website Monday.

According to the statement, the new initiative stems from President Barack Obama’s call last year for law enforcement agencies to reach out to minority communities in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin self-defense shooting case.

The new program establishes a National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice, a new data-clearinghouse bureaucracy for participating law enforcement agencies to submit and compare statistics on how many minorities they stop, search and arrest.

“Racial disparities contribute to tension in our nation generally and within communities of color specifically, and tend to breed resentment towards law enforcement that is counterproductive to the goal of reducing crime,” Holder said in his weekly video address.

 

Department Of Justice Seeks Legal Power To Keep Detainees From Erasing Their Smartphones

U.S. law enforcement is petitioning the Supreme Court for the legal authority to snatch smartphones from detainees without a warrant and peruse the phones’ contents before their owners can activate a “kill switch” — an option on some smartphones that completely wipes or encrypts all their data.

It’s a request that’s loaded with irony. Law enforcement, ostensibly advocating for victims’ rights, originally had helped to persuade the smartphone industry to develop and deploy the kill switch technology, in order to give phone owners whose devices had been stolen a means of denying thieves access to any of their personal data.

But a kill switch can just as easily be used by the target of an officer’s suspicion to wipe data — and with it, potentially incriminating evidence — from a smartphone before its owner allows a cop to play with it. What the cops are asking the Supreme Court to do is to rule that a search warrant is not required in order for a cop to demand on-the-spot access to a private citizen’s smartphone, along with everything it contains.

According to Wired, the U.S. Department of Justice is leading the petition, arguing that suspects who wipe their phones are obstructing investigations and heightening law enforcement’s suspicion of their guilt.

Wired reported last week:

In a brief filed to the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday [April 22] in the case of alleged Boston drug dealer Brima Wurie, the Justice Department argues that police should be free to warrantlessly search cellphones taken from suspects immediately at the time of arrest, rather than risk letting the suspect or his associates lock or remotely wipe the phone before it can be searched.

The statement responds to briefs made to the court by the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation arguing that warrantless searches of cellphones for evidence represents a serious violation of the suspect’s privacy beyond that of a usual warrantless search of a suspect’s pockets, backpack, or car interior.

On the other side of the petition is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along with other civil libertarians, who argue that law enforcement cannot have it both ways.

“You have this weird scenario where law enforcement has demanded remote wiping be deployed, and now they’re using that to also justify warrantless searches,” ACLU principal technologist Chris Soghoian told Wired. “… What matters isn’t just the information, but where they get it from. They’re saying that there are certain things on your phone that have less protections than others under the law, which is crazy.”

Opponents also point out that there’s no evidence that phone wiping is, at present, a true obstacle to law enforcement investigations. Rather, they argue, it’s simply the latest target in a long progression of the state’s slow encroachment on individual freedoms.

More Than Half Believe Neither Party Is For The People

As the polling season heats up, most political polls focus on candidates vying for Congressional seats by jockeying for voters’ favor within the established two-party system. Yet when asked how they feel about the very system that yields America’s perennial crop of ruling-class leaders, a majority of voters lacks faith in either party.

A Rasmussen poll released Thursday finds that 53 percent of likely voters feel that neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party reflects the values and goals of most Americans.

In response to the poll question — “Is it fair to say that neither party in Congress is the party of the American people?” — 53 percent agreed, 28 percent disagreed and 19 percent said they weren’t sure.

The number of people who disagreed has risen over the past six months, when a similar Rasmussen poll found that 47 percent of likely voters held the same belief. It also matches the ongoing poll’s all-time high, back in June 2012 (another election year).

There aren’t a lot of demographic takeaways from this poll, but Rasmussen does point out:

Generally speaking, the younger the voter, the more likely he or she is to believe that neither party represents the American people. Men are more skeptical than women. Blacks are less doubting than whites and other minority voters are.

Taken with similar recently culled data, Thursday’s poll reveals an ongoing trend of greater dissatisfaction and disconnect on the part of GOP voters, who feel their leadership is particularly out of touch.

An April 11 poll found that 59 percent of Republican voters do not feel that the party’s Congressional representation faithfully reflects the views of the party’s base — even as Democratic voters continued to demonstrate relative satisfaction with their Congressional leadership.

That survey also found that only 29 percent of Republican voters strongly approved of the way Congressional GOP leaders had represented their constituents.

FDA Pushes To Regulate E-Cig Industry Like It’s Big Tobacco

No one really knows whether tobacco-free electronic vaporizers offer a straight-up healthy alternative to smoking. But anecdotal evidence, as well as common sense, suggests that they’re better than inhaling smoke from combusted tobacco leaves. Most vaporizing devices have no tobacco products of any kind in them, and none of them creates smoke for users to inhale.

Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration is taking on the growing vaporizing industry as if it were Big Tobacco, announcing Thursday it plans to regulate the e-cig industry in much the same way it regulates the cancer sticks.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg’s prepared remarks in announcing the proposed new rules suggest she possesses a singular measure of insight into the biological and cultural perils of e-cigs, and has satisfied herself that they are, for all intents and purposes, Big Tobacco Part II. She even refers to vaporizers as “tobacco products.”

“Tobacco remains the leading cause of death and disease in this country. This is an important moment for consumer protection and a significant proposal that if finalized as written would bring FDA oversight to many new tobacco products,” said Hamburg.

For the vast majority of consumable vaporizer products, nicotine is the only ingredient common to both e-cigs and analog cigarettes.

Most of the pressure to exert FDA control over the vaporizer market has come from the political left, with Democratic lawmakers and a handful of interest groups castigating manufacturers and vendors for catering to children with fruity flavors, and insinuating that taking up e-cigs amounts to the first step toward all-out cigarette addiction.

The new rules, which are now subject to a 75-day public comment period, would force manufacturers to register with the FDA, and to provide the agency with a listing of the ingredients that goes into the consumable portion of their products. The rules would also block all new e-cigs from entering the market until the FDA had cleared the products via a mandatory review, and would block the sale of the devices to minors.

However, the proposal would not shut down the burgeoning online marketplace for vaporizers — an enormously vital part of the industry’s recent growth.

Obama’s DHS Inspector On Leave For Fudging Reports

The policy enforcers in the Obama Administration – and, it turns out, those tasked with making sure they stay ethical – keep dropping like flies.

Fox News reported today that Charles Edwards, the former acting Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has been placed on administrative leave following a Senate subcommittee report that found Edwards protected DHS employees – the very people whose on-the-job behavior he was supposed to be monitoring – by altering or delaying potentially damaging reports.

Edwards resigned from his IG position late last year amid ongoing allegations of ethical misconduct, taking a lower position within DHS.

But Thursday’s report from the Senate subcommittee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs alleges that Edwards knowingly protected DHS employees by stalling the release timing of reports and directing a staffer to strike “derogatory information” that could be “potentially damaging to the [Obama] administration.”

Here’s more from Fox:

The report determined that he “jeopardized the independence” of his office by socializing with senior DHS officials and had reports “altered or delayed” to accommodate the department he was supposed to oversee.

…The report also included, though did not confirm, allegations that Edwards’ office sat on information about the 2012 Secret Service prostitution scandal that could “influence an election.”

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson placed Edwards on administrative leave following the report. Edwards’ attorney blasted the subcommittee’s findings, saying the report selectively cobbled fragments of Edwards’ conduct together in order to effect a partisan and vindictive outcome.

“The report often cites to testimony or other materials which have been quoted out of context and provide a misleading impression,” attorney David Lease said.

The report accuses Edwards of vindictive behavior while on the job. It alleges that “Edwards’ office retaliated against workers who spoke out and, in the words of one unnamed official, that Edwards himself cultivated a ‘toxic, totally dysfunctional and oppressive’ work environment. One official told Senate investigators that the work atmosphere was one of ‘complete terror.’”

University Of Hawaii Sued For Restricting Handout Of Constitution To ‘Free Speech Zone’

Here we go again.

Two students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo are suing the school in Federal court after officials there told them to stop handing out free copies of the U.S. Constitution on campus.

Students Merritt Burch and Anthony Vizzone, members of the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), filed the lawsuit today following a January incident in which they were ordered to stay behind their display table to hand out the Constitution, all while watching members of other student organizations freely meander about to distribute literature on other topics.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has now come to Burch’s defense with a settlement in a similar case already under its belt. According to a synopsis (courtesy of Reason) of the lawsuit Burch and fellow student Anthony Vizzone have filed, with the organization’s help, against the University of Hawaii, this is what the plaintiffs allege:

[O]n January 16, 2014, plaintiff Merritt Burch, who is president of the UH Hilo chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), and a fellow student YAL member were participating in an outdoor event where student groups set up tables to distribute literature. Observing other students walking around and handing out items, Burch and her friend walked out from behind YAL’s table to likewise hand out Constitutions and YAL information cards. A UH Hilo administrator ordered Burch and her companion to stop approaching students and get back behind their table, dismissing Burch’s protest about her constitutional rights.

… A week later, in an orientation meeting for student organizations, another administrator reiterated the rule against passing out literature. Burch and Vizzone were told that if they wanted to protest, the proper place to do so would be in UH Hilo’s “free speech zone,” a sloping, one-third acre area on the edge of campus. The “free speech zone” represents approximately 0.26 percent of UH Hilo’s total area and is muddy and prone to flooding in Hilo’s frequent rain. The administrator further observed, “This isn’t really the ’60s anymore” and “people can’t really protest like that anymore.”

Burch and Vizzone are challenging the denial of their right to hand out literature and policies restricting the distribution of literature. The suit also challenges UH Hilo’s “free speech zone,” a separate policy requiring students to request permission seven working days prior to engaging in expressive activity in two central outdoor areas on campus, and the failure of UH Hilo officials to adequately train administrators on the rights of college students.

So free speech died when the hippies ran out of things to say?

The description of Burch’s case reads like a carbon copy of an earlier free-speech conflict at Modesto Junior College (MJC) in Modesto, California. In that Sept. 2013 confrontation, college officials told student Robert Van Tuinen to stop handing out free copies of the Constitution – on Constitution Day, of course.

With the help of FIRE, Van Tuinen sued MJC. The college eventually capitulated and settled the case, paying Van Tuinen $50,000 in damages.

If You Owe Back Taxes, Do You Get A Bonus? IRS Employees Do

When an average American is delinquent in his Federal income tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service can make his life pretty unpleasant.

But when an IRS employee owes back taxes — and there are thousands who do — not only does he get consideration from his government employers that average Americans don’t get; he also goes home with bonus pay.

According to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the IRS paid out $2.8 million in bonuses to more than 2,800 employees “with recent substantiated conduct issues resulting in disciplinary action,” including $1 million to “more than 1,100 IRS employees with substantiated Federal tax compliance problems.”

Those payouts, which also included paid time off and step increases in the government’s merit job system, took place between October 2010 and the start of 2013. The final IG report was published internally on March 21, but was released to the public this week.

Although the IG report attempts to explain that enforcing tax law and dealing with IRS employees through the merit system are two endeavors segregated by government policies, it nonetheless remarks that rewarding IRS employees who are delinquent in their tax payments represents an apparent conflict of interest:

With few exceptions, the IRS does not consider tax compliance or other misconduct when issuing performance awards or most other types of awards. Governmentwide (sic) policies do not provide guidance on providing awards to employees with conduct issues. The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 does not specifically mention awards, but does make mandatory the removal of IRS employees who are found to have intentionally committed certain acts of misconduct, including willful failure to pay Federal taxes. Thus, while not specifically prohibited, providing awards to employees with conduct issues, especially those who fail to pay Federal taxes, appears to create a conflict with the IRS’s charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration.

The report further recommends that the IRS consider “the feasibility of implementing a policy requiring management to consider conduct issues resulting in disciplinary actions, especially the nonpayment of taxes, prior to awarding all types of performance and discretionary awards.”

According to the summary, the IRS has agreed with that advice and is conducting a study with a June 30 deadline that might — might — lead to the development of such a policy.

Georgia Governor Signs Broad ‘Pro-Gun’ Bill Into Law

The State of Georgia just passed into law a piece of bipartisan gun legislation that removes restrictions on where licensed gun owners can take their firearms, even though some 2nd Amendment supporters had been hoping for much more.

Republican Governor Nathan Deal, who’s up for re-election this year, signed HB 60 into law Wednesday, over the vehement objections of gun control groups like Americans for Responsible Solutions, the creation of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

The law will take effect on July 1 of this year. It passed through the State Legislature with bipartisan support, garnering a “yes” vote even from Democratic State Senator Jason Carter — the grandson of the former President and the Democrats’ nominee in the Georgia Governor’s race.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Deal emphasized the law’s broad support, but noted that more-lenient gun legislation still doesn’t exempt the State’s gun owners from the dragnet of registration and permitting required to obtain a license:

There are always opportunities for people to use any piece of legislation as a political tool if they don’t like it. But there was bipartisan support for the bill. The main story that should come out of it is the final product is significantly different from earlier versions. And some of the more [pause] interesting parts were removed.

…The important premise we all should remember is these are people who have their fingerprints taken, their backgrounds checked and they have been licensed to carry a weapon. It’s not just someone walking out of the clear blue with none of those background checks. They’ve been subjected to scrutiny of the state.

Although the National Rifle Association has hailed the new law as “the most comprehensive pro-gun reform bill in state history,” strict Constitutionalists say it’s only a partial victory. Missing from the final bill was a provision that would have allowed firearms on college campuses — a major point of controversy in several States that have seen recent, absurd debates on gun-free ways to thwart sexual assaults and mass shootings.

The bill does allow religious institutions to determine for themselves whether to allow firearms on their premises, allows hunting silencers, permits school employees to carry in school zones and affords every legal gun owner the right to carry his weapon inside government buildings that don’t have a security checkpoint at the public entrance.

Texas Man Has To Put His Dog Down With Bare Hands After Deputy Shoots, Injures – But Refuses To Kill

Cole Middleton, who lives in rural Rains County in East Texas, dialed 911 after arriving at home last Friday morning to discover his home had been burglarized. It looked to Middleton like someone had broken in and stolen an iPad, jewelry and firearms.

A deputy arrived a while later. Middleton had joined his dad in a field to do some farm work while he waited for the sheriff’s office to respond, and, from a distance, he saw the car pull up.

According to what Middleton told KLTV News, his dog Candy – an animal that, judging from posted photos, looks like an Australian cattle dog – was in the yard when the deputy arrived. Middleton had trained her to herd cattle, and described her as a “natural” when it came to farm work. Candy was barking, as dogs tend to do in unfamiliar or exciting situations, but wasn’t acting aggressively toward the officer.

“She’s barking when he pulls into the driveway letting me know someone’s at our house, an intruder is here, or a person who she would think was an intruder that she’s unfamiliar with,” said Middleton. “She’s barking. The officer gets out of his car, and all the while we’re headed up [there]. He gets out of his car and shoots my dog in my front yard.”

Just like that, according to Middleton – without hesitation, and without cause to believe the dog posed any imminent physical danger.

Candy was wounded in the head and was in obvious distress, but the shot did not immediately kill her.

Blindsided by a completely new, abhorrent set of circumstances, Middleton’s immediate concern now was ending Candy’s suffering.

“I was so upset,” he told KLTV. “I went over there to her and she was still alive and I begged and pleaded with him to please shoot her again because I don’t have any firearms. They got stolen. He went and got in his vehicle and backed out of my driveway.”

So much for investigating the burglary – at least for that officer, whose name had not been released late Wednesday.

Left without guns, Middleton told the reporter he steeled himself to do something to end his dog’s suffering that he could never have imagined.

“I had to do the unthinkable, the otherwise unthinkable. I had to kill my dog with my bare hands and put her out of her suffering, praying for this to be over with,” he said.

At some point not long after he’d done that, other officers showed up. They saw blood on Middleton’s shirt and immediately had questions about it. Middleton said it raised their suspicions enough for them to unholster their weapons.

“That is the blood of my dog that I was holding because this deputy pulled up and shot her in my yard,” he explained. “Then the tasers were put away and the pistols withdrawn.”

Sheriff David Traylor said the Texas Rangers are investigating the incident.

Visit KLTV for more, including updates and a video of the April 21 televised report.

Study: ‘Income Inequality’ Agenda Ignores The Truth About Economic Mobility In America

Even though President Barack Obama is in the midst of a campaign to convince Americans that income inequality is a real problem, there’s very little evidence that the wealth gap rigidly locks individual Americans into an undesirable economic category and keeps them there.

According to a long-range scientific study that examined the economic movements of individuals over a span of more than four decades, most Americans will find themselves, at varying points in their lives, passing back and forth across the wage-earning spectrum.

In fact, according to Cornell researcher Thomas A. Hirschl and Washington University professor Mark R. Rank, nearly three-quarters of Americans will find themselves among the Nation’s highest-earning 20 percent for at least one year of their lives.

“Rather than talking about the 1 percent and the 99 percent as if they were forever fixed, it would make much more sense to talk about the fact that Americans are likely to be exposed to both prosperity and poverty during their lives, and to shape our policies accordingly,” Rank wrote in a Sunday column for The New York Times. “As such, we have much more in common with one another than we dare to realize.”

Progressive politicians seeking an election-year red herring to distract voters from Obamacare aren’t likely to slap that quote on mass mailings promoting their income inequality talking points.

The two researchers arrived at their conclusions by considering 44 years’ worth of data covering Americans between 25 and 60 years of age, attempting to discern whether those who start out poor, in the middle class or wealthy remained firmly entrenched in their economic demographic.

“The results were striking,” wrote Rank:

It turns out that 12 percent of the population will find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution for at least one year. What’s more, 39 percent of Americans will spend a year in the top 5 percent of the income distribution, 56 percent will find themselves in the top 10 percent, and a whopping 73 percent will spend a year in the top 20 percent of the income distribution.

…Although 12 percent of the population will experience a year in which they find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution, a mere 0.6 percent will do so in 10 consecutive years.

It is clear that the image of a static 1 and 99 percent is largely incorrect…

Ultimately, this information casts serious doubt on the notion of a rigid class structure in the United States based upon income. It suggests that the United States is indeed a land of opportunity, that the American dream is still possible — but that it is also a land of widespread poverty. And rather than being a place of static, income-based social tiers, America is a place where a large majority of people will experience either wealth or poverty — or both — during their lifetimes.

Extending economic opportunity continues to be elected conservatives’ answer to the Obama political regime’s fixation on shared income.

“For more than two hundred years, the United States — through trial and error, through good times and bad — has waged the most successful war on poverty in the history of the world,” Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) told a Heritage Foundation forum late last year. “The United States has become so wealthy that it is easy to forget that, as Michael Novak once noted, most affluent Americans can actually remember when their own families were poor.

“… And of course, the best thing we can do to help the unemployed find jobs, and low-income workers find higher-income work is to finally get our economy growing again. Reforms to our tax, regulatory, energy, and transportation systems that spur private investment and job creation can do more for upward mobility than anything else in government’s power.”

Independent Voters Favor Anti-Obamacare Candidates In Midterms

Recent polling finds that voters who describe themselves as independent are far more likely to prefer Congressional candidates this election season who are opposed to Obamacare.

According to a Fox News poll released this week, 54 percent of independent voters plan to vote for candidates who are running in opposition to the Affordable Care Act, compared with only 29 percent who plan to back pro-Obamacare candidates. That’s a 25 percent margin in favor of an alternative to the poorly implemented, poorly received healthcare law.

The same poll also finds that 53 percent of all voters, regardless of party affiliation, prefer candidates who oppose Obamacare, compared with 39 percent who favor pro-Obamacare candidates.

Taken together, those two sets of data indicate that Obamacare continues to find its sole base of support among committed Democrats, and that the issue promises to define swing voters’ decisions in the November Congressional elections.

“Nineteen percent of voters say a congressional candidate’s stance on ObamaCare will be the ‘single most important factor’ in their vote decision, which is more than double the number who felt that way in 2012 (eight percent),” reports Fox News on the poll’s findings. “Likewise, the number of Republicans who say it will be the ‘single most important factor’ has almost doubled (21 percent today, up from 11 percent).

“Overall, 79 percent of those opposing the law say it will be an important factor to their vote, compared to 67 percent of those favoring the law.”

Perhaps most revealing of this year’s zeitgeist on issues that drive voter behavior, 51 percent said that Obamacare will be regarded as “’one of the worst’ things Barack Obama accomplished as president,” while only 37 percent maintain it will be remembered as “one of the best.”

State Department Can’t Name Hillary’s Accomplishments, Either

Two weeks ago, Hillary Clinton stammered out a non-response to a question about what she’d accomplished as Secretary of State that reads like lawyer’s poetry.

In less than 200 words, she managed not to say a single thing that acknowledged the question she’d been asked: “When you look at your time as Secretary of State, what are you most proud of? And what do you feel was unfinished, and maybe have another crack at one day?”

Today, an AP reporter tried a similar question on State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki. Asking about the State Department Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) – a quadrennial study that’s supposed to assess the State Department’s long-range diplomacy plans – reporter Matthew Lee tried twice to get Psaki to identify one useful thing to come out of the QDDR conducted under Clinton’s oversight.

“Off the top of your head, can you identify one tangible achievement that the last QDDR resulted in?” he asked. Judging from his subsequent antagonizing of Psaki as she dissembled into a non-answer Clinton would be proud of, he already knew where things were headed.

“Well Matt, obviously it’s an extensive, expansive process,” Psaki began. “We’re looking at how it was done last time. [Interruption] I know, I’m making an important point here. The Secretary wants it to be focused, it’s going to focus on a more narrow range of issues. Ah, it’s always to look at how we can improve things, and we’ll see where we come out in the end.”

Lee tried again.

“I am certain that those who were here at the time who worked hard on that effort…could, could point out one.”

Lee then modified the question to encompass the timeframe since Psaki was hired by the Obama Administration.

“Well as you know, I’ve only been here since it was concluded,” Psaki responded.

‘BundyFest’ Shows Progressives Flipping Their Own Anti-Oppression Script To Insult Cliven Bundy

Some people’s commitment to nominal political first loves can become so deeply entrenched that, over time, they fail to see they’ve become the very thing they purport to hate.

So it appears with this guy – Sean Shealy – a self-described liberal activist who says he’s been involved in organizing past iterations of Burning Man, the neo-hippie catch-all freakout of cultural detritus that takes place each year in the Nevada desert.

Burning Man has to pay a permit fee to use the land, and rancher Cliven Bundy’s refusal to pay the Federal government a usage fee to graze his cattle on Federally-administered lands in Nevada just doesn’t sit well with Shealy. I have to pay, so you should too, etc.

So he’s taking the man (Bundy) who’s trying to stick it to the Man (the government) to task for standing up to the Feds. How? By planning a 30-day nuisance party near Bundy’s grazing zone and naming it after – who else? – Bundy.

Bundyfest, as it’s called, is to be a month-long middle finger turned Bundy’s way in a show of disapproval for the rancher’s recalcitrant insistence on flouting “the rule of law,” as Shealy himself describes it. How?

By creating effing anarchy, man.

Here’s Shealy in The Raw Story today :

“For years, we paid permitting fees to hold Burning Man on the beautiful Playa in Northern Nevada,” said the event’s organizers on a Facebook page. “But now, Cliven Bundy has shown us a NEW WAY! ABSOLUTE FREEDOM! Bundy has declared the entire area surrounding Bundy Ranch as a TOTALLY RULES-FREE ZONE! ANYTHING GOES! WOO-HOO!!!”

“…Some people have asked me, where will we camp, where will we park?” Shealy said. “Anywhere, really. It’s f*cking anarchy.”

So which is it? The rule of law or anarchy? Shealy’s more serious comments, such as they are, seem to indicate disobeying the government has become passé among the self-appointed heirs to 1960s-style rebellion.

“Nothing that happened in Nevada — from anybody on either side — merits pulling someone’s leg off … Get a grip, folks,” Shealy said. “It’s about some cranky old dude and some cows in the middle of a barren desert. And the rule of law.”

Confused? Try walking across the Bundyfest zone the day after everyone’s gone home. Our guess is this event will give the BLM’s recent land-rape of the grazing zone a run for its money in terms of chaos and disorder.

Late Tuesday, the Burning Man Facebook page offered this disclaimer:

“For the record, the Burning Man organization has absolutely no involvement whatsoever with the so-called #BundyFest or its supposed organizer Sean Shealy.”

True The Vote Takes On Oversight Member Elijah Cummings For Allegedly Colluding With Lerner’s IRS

Not long ago, on the same day the House of Representatives voted to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) accused fellow Oversight member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) of taking an inappropriate, meddlesome interest in True the Vote, a conservative nonprofit group Lerner’s Internal Revenue Service division eventually targeted for discrimination.

Now True the Vote has taken up the fight, suggesting it may have sufficient grounds to convince the Oversight Committee to widen its IRS investigation to include one of the committee’s own members: Cummings himself.

The organization’s attorney, Cleta Mitchell, told The Daily Caller over the weekend that True the Vote has had a pending complaint against Cummings before the Office of Congressional Ethics since February. Her extensive interview on the topic, along with comments to the media last week, may indicate that True the Vote is ready to play its hand against Cummings and the role he allegedly played in directing the IRS’s attention to the Texas-based nonprofit during President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

Mitchell told The Daily Caller:

On behalf of True the Vote, we filed a complaint against Rep. Cummings on February 6 with the Office of Congressional Ethics asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Rep. Cummings or any member of his staff had played any role in getting any of the agencies that went after Catherine Engelbrecht and her family after she became involved with True the Vote. Two IRS audits about the business, her personal tax returns, two visits from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a surprise visit from OSHA, seven visits from the FBI. I mean, these are not coincidences. And so we wanted to know what role Rep. Cummings or any of his staff had played in any of that and why Rep. Cummings undertook to misrepresent that he was conducting an investigation of True the Vote, which we think was in violation of House rules.

Since the Oversight Committee first began looking into the IRS scandal in February 2012, Cummings has said early, often and repeatedly that the ensuing House Oversight investigation has amounted to nothing more than a partisan witch hunt that will never find a smoking gun.

But Mitchell and True the Vote now maintain that Cummings was, the whole time, attempting to defuse the investigation before Oversight members realized Cumming’s alleged involvement in the broader scandal. And Mitchell should know — she was the one who got a straight (or at least unequivocal) answer out of Cummings when she asked him about it during a Feb. 6 Oversight hearing:

Ms. Mitchell: We want to get to the bottom of how these coincidences happened, and we’re going to try to figure out whether any — if there was any staff of this committee that might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies. We don’t know that, but we — we’re going to do everything we can do to try to get to the bottom of how did this all happen.

Mr. Cummings: Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. [Mark] Meadows [R-N.C., Oversight Vice Chair]: Yes.

Mr. Cummings: I want to thank the gentleman for his courtesy. What she just said is absolutely incorrect and not true.

Mitchell filed the ethics complaint against Cummings, on behalf of True the Vote, that same day.

Obama Administration Asks Parents, Schools To Watch For ‘Warning Signs’ Of Kids Training For Terror

President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser suggested to a Harvard audience last week that parents and teachers across the country can get involved in rooting out homegrown terror by turning a more suspicious eye toward the children they raise and educate.

“[W]e recognize that there are limits to what the federal government can do,” Lisa O. Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, said in a prepared speech before the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. “So we must rely on the partnership of those who are most familiar with the local risks, those who are in the best position to take action–local communities.”

How do you do that? By scanning kids for indicative behavioral changes while viewing the little strangers’ growing-up phases through a lens that filters for the “warning signs” of terror:

In the more than 80 percent of cases involving homegrown violent extremists, people in the community — whether peers or family members or authority figures or even strangers — had observed warning signs a person was becoming radicalized to violence. But more than half of those community members downplayed or dismissed their observations without intervening. So it’s not that the clues weren’t there, it’s that they weren’t understood well enough to be seen as the indicators of a serious problem.

What kinds of behaviors are we talking about? For the most part, they’re not related directly to plotting attacks. They’re more subtle. For instance, parents might see sudden personality changes in their children at home — becoming confrontational. Religious leaders might notice unexpected clashes over ideological differences. Teachers might hear a student expressing an interest in traveling to a conflict zone overseas. Or friends might notice a new interest in watching or sharing violent material.

In a world in which the government holds the keys to solving all ills, this advice veers toward the dystopian. Parents whose lives enmesh fully with their offspring through direct, intimate and constant involvement in the raising of their children are not as valuable to the police state as parents who at least know what to watch out for in their kids, aloof as so many parent-child relationships may be.

The same can be said of teachers, whose skills in monitoring children as potential wards of the state — either through removal from the home or incarceration — prove at least as useful to a watchful government as is their ability to transmit knowledge and cultivate close ties with parents (aloof, of course, as many parent-teacher relationships may be).

Monaco’s introduction made note of several recent terror attacks and isolated, tragic freak-outs — but she managed to place them all on the same top shelf of anti-terror priorities, while simultaneously observing the alleged motives only of the crazy far right.

Here’s what she said about last year’s Boston Marathon bombing:

Of course, we’re here today because of a tragedy. This morning I joined Vice President Biden at the memorial service marking the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings — marking one year since we were shocked by those awful images at the finish line; one year since we lost Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, eight-year-old Martin Richard and Officer Sean Collier — all innocent lives and all lost far too soon.  It’s been one year since we saw how Boston responds in the face of terrorism–with resilience and resolve and unbending strength.

When the bombs went off, I had been President Obama’s chief advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism for just a few weeks. It was a deeply personal introduction to the demands of this job. I was raised a few miles from here — in Newton. I went to high school in the shadow of Fenway Park and then made the long trek down Storrow Drive to come here for college. Growing up, I spent every Patriot’s Day lining that marathon route — usually at the crest of Heartbreak Hill — cheering on the runners and taking part in a great Boston tradition. And last year, my twin brother was there in the crowd, alongside thousands of other Bostonians. It was not only an attack on the homeland; it was an attack on my hometown.

By whom? For what reasons? She didn’t attempt to speculate.

Here’s what she said about the crazy guy who killed three people earlier this month at a Jewish community center in Kansas:

We’ve faced violent expressions of extremism throughout our history, including 19 years ago this week in Oklahoma City. And, sadly, we continue to face it, as we saw just two days ago in Overland Park, Kansas, when a gunman — allegedly a white supremacist with a long history of racist and anti-Semitic behavior — opened fire at a Jewish community center and retirement home, killing three. And, while the American people continue to stand united against hatred and violence, the unfortunate truth is that extremist groups will continue targeting vulnerable populations in an effort to promote their murderous ideology.

That’s why stemming domestic radicalization to violence has been a key element of our counterterrorism strategy from day one. President Obama has been laser-focused on making sure we use all the elements of our national power to protect Americans, including developing the  first government-wide strategy to prevent violent extremism in the United States.