Most Oppose Obamacare Contraception Mandate

A new poll from the Family Research Council (FRC) finds that the embattled Obamacare mandate requiring employers to offer health plans that cover contraception and morning-after coverage isn’t popular with the majority of Americans.

Released today, the poll targeted only the Obamacare contraception mandate, asking the following straightforward question:

As you may know, the President’s healthcare law contains the HHS mandate which requires that all private healthcare plans, including both employer based health plans and individual market health plans, cover preventative care services for women, which includes all FDA approved contraceptives, including drugs that can destroy a human embryo, and sterilization services without a direct cost to the patient. Employers that offer their employees’ healthcare plans that do not includes these drugs and services will be fined up to $100 per day per employee. Do you support or oppose this law?

Fifty-three percent of respondents said they oppose the mandate; 40 percent said they oppose it “strongly.” But only 43 percent said they support the law – with 26 percent saying they “Strongly” support it.

WPA Opinion Research, which conducted the poll on behalf of the FRC, said the results reflect complexities in the views of potential voters whom establishment candidates from both parties typically attempt to shoehorn into black-and-white ideological groups.

“There is broad opposition to the healthcare mandate that forces employers to cover contraceptives,” concluded WPA. “Additionally, Democrats should be wary about being on the wrong side of this issue as voters that typically support them tend to oppose the mandate.”

Porn In The EPA

An Inspector General’s report on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and members of the House Oversight Committee said Wednesday that the agency has either turned a blind eye toward — or actually rewarded — employees who watch tons of porn, sell diet pills out of their offices, get paid for not working, or hire their friends and relatives into paid internships.

The headline-getter is the unnamed porn-watcher. Allan Williams, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations at the EPA, told the House Oversight Committee Wednesday that the “career EPA employee” had watched hours of porn daily on his workplace computer.

Here’s a portion of Williams’ actual testimony:

One such investigation involves a career EPA employee who allegedly stored pornographic materials on an EPA network server shared by colleagues. When an OIG special agent arrived at this employee’s work space to conduct an interview, the special agent witnessed the employee actively viewing pornography on his government-issued computer. Subsequently, the employee confessed to spending, on average, between two and six hours per day viewing pornography while at work. The OIG’s investigation determined that the employee downloaded and viewed more than 7,000 pornographic files during duty hours.

That’s a lot of porn. USA Today reported Wednesday that the employee had been doing this since 2010. Williams said the case has been handed over to the Department of Justice.

Then there’s Renee Page in the EPA Office of Administration, whom the report alleges to have sold jewelry and weight loss products out of her office while on the clock. Page also allegedly hired 17 relatives and friends as paid interns and finagled money from the department’s budget to give to her daughter.

Finally, the report reveals a number of pay-for-no-work cases at the EPA. One involves an employee who, for five years, held a work-from-home position but did no actual work. Of course, she received more than half a million dollars in “earnings” and performance bonus pay. In all, the employee had worked from home for more than 20 years.

The report accuses an EPA “senior executive” of letting it all slide:

During the same investigation, the OIG also found evidence that implicated a senior executive. This senior executive, who was the absent employee’s prior supervisor, remained aware that the employee had been teleworking for more than 20 years with very little substantive work product to show during this time. The senior executive knew about the arrangement between the employee’s current supervisor and the absent employee. This senior executive took no action,even though he knew the EPA was being defrauded. Upon receiving a target letter from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the senior executive retired and was not prosecuted. Furthermore, the DOJ declined to prosecute either the absent employee or the current supervisor.

… During the course of the OIG’s investigation, the absent employee’s supervisor informed us that he was not the only EPA manager who was allowing employees not to report for duty.

Yet another employee who had become “physically unable” to do any work because of a debilitating illness had nevertheless worked from home for several years, before moving into an assisted living facility.

“When the employee entered the facility, the employee’s supervisor was aware of the employee’s condition and situation; however, the now former supervisor continued to allow and facilitate the employee’s retention of a full salary and benefits,” the report alleges.

If all this isn’t enough, just take comfort in the knowledge that the EPA is the same agency that gave us John Beale.

How Can Progressives Stop The Rise Of Conservative Media? By Regulating Them Like Political Action Committees

There’s apparently a rift among officials at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over whether to pursue new regulations against privately owned media outlets that, through story selection and/or the tone of their reporting, promote a political ideology or favor political candidates.

The catch, of course, is that such scrutiny coincides with the recent rise of conservative media outlets — particularly Internet-based ones like the Drudge Report aggregator — to supplement the well-entrenched stranglehold that conservative talk shows now hold on the radio market.

FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman, a 2013 Republican appointee of President Barack Obama, told Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard that “[t]here are some in this building that think we can actually regulate” media voices that offer a political slant, a possibility that makes him “concerned about disparate treatment of conservative media.”

Here’s more from the Examiner:

“I think that there are impulses in the government every day to second guess and look into the editorial decisions of conservative publishers,” warned Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman in an interview.

“The right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and internet communications,” he added.

Noting the success of sites like the Drudge Report, Goodman said that protecting conservative media, especially those on the internet, “matters to me because I see the future going to the democratization of media largely through the internet. They can compete with the big boys now, and I have seen storm clouds that the second you start to regulate them. There is at least the possibility or indeed proclivity for selective enforcement, so we need to keep the media free and the internet free.”

The idea behind the new push for FEC regulation is simple, and completely unConstitutional: Treat conservative news organizations and aggregators like they’re part of the Nation’s campaign finance machinery and subject them to Federal elections laws. Of course, the FEC’s entire existence revolves around administering campaign finance laws targeted at political candidates and those who support them financially. The FEC was not conceived as a back-door 1st Amendment cop; and neither it, nor any other government entity, has the Constitutional authority to limit free speech.

Goodman has cautioned about the six-member FEC’s more sinister long-term intentions before, penning an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal earlier this year that cites specific examples of the FEC’s recent dalliance with media censorship:

David Gregory and George Stephanopoulos should be concerned. The same Federal Election Commission that represented to the Supreme Court that it could ban books now claims the authority to censor Sunday-morning news programs.

This startling assertion of government power became public in December when the FEC released an enforcement file in the case of a Boston television station’s regular Sunday-morning news program, “On the Record.” The station, WCVB, had invited two congressional candidates (a Democrat and a Republican) into its studio to appear on “On the Record” in the weeks leading up to the 2012 election and formatted the joint appearance as a 30-minute debate.

Another candidate (a libertarian) who was not invited filed a complaint alleging that the value of WCVB’s production costs and airtime constituted unlawful corporate contributions to the two candidates who were invited. Corporate contributions to federal candidates are illegal and people who make them face stiff fines, injunctions, and can even go to prison.

Although the FEC dismissed the Boston case, Goodman warned that the agency should not even be saddled with the power to arbitrate such issues.

“A decision to approve implies the power to disapprove,” he wrote. “And in the case of FEC regulatory authority over corporate contributions, the power to investigate, punish and even enjoin is the power to censor news programs like ‘On the Record,’ ‘Meet the Press’ and ‘This Week.’ The upshot of the WCVB decision is that every television newsroom must look over its shoulder whenever it invites two or more candidates to a joint appearance.”

Add to that Goodman’s concern that the FEC’s compulsion to regulate media is aimed squarely toward conservatives, and it’s evident that the commission’s progressive members have no problem with the Constitutional implications of a government enforcement agency exerting media control.

Goodman’s chairmanship expires in December, but his board tenure doesn’t expire until 2019. At least he’s willing to speak out.

Obama’s Hot Election-Year Issues Are Exactly The Ones Voters Don’t Care About

Polls are easy-come, easy-go, but last week’s Pew/USA Today poll gauging the mood of voters ahead of the midterm elections covered a lot of ground. The upshot, USA Today found, is that Republicans stand to gain Congressional seats this November.

One takeaway that may have gotten lost in the ensuing coverage is this interesting tidbit: President Obama’s focus on a political cocktail of immigration reform and climate change to kick off the summer-long campaign season is at or near the very bottom of the list of important issues that voters say will influence their decisions at the ballot box.

Worse for Democrats, their figurehead stands to lose them votes on the three top issues that voters do place at the top of their list of priorities – jobs, health care and the Federal deficit.

Think of it as an inverse pyramid: as voters’ concern about a given issue goes up, the President’s attention to that issue (or his success in attempting to address it) goes down.

On jobs – the top priority for 27 percent of voters: 800,000 people dropped out of the workforce in the latest BLS monthly report, a statistic that magically lowered to official unemployment rate by discounting that number from the pool of people the government considers to be “unemployed.” Health care

On health care – the top priority for 21 percent of voters: Despite the Administration’s recent efforts at claiming victory in the Obamacare sign-up period, insurers are now saying that many of the reported 8 million enrollees may be “duplicates,” and that anywhere between 10 and 20 percent of unique enrollments represent people who never paid their premiums. Obamacare is a mess of a talking point for Democrats in their respective local districts, with officials like Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging Democrats to highlight it in their campaigns, even as embattled Democrats like Congressmen Joe Garcia of Florida and Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona run campaign ads taking on Obama like he’s the bad guy.

Meanwhile, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz pretends Obamacare’s time in the spotlight has already come and gone, and that there’s nothing left for voters to see – in direct contradiction of what voters told the pollsters last week.

On the Federal deficit – the top priority for 19 percent of voters: Like the BLS unemployment statistics, the recent report from the Congressional Budget Office that the Federal deficit is at its lowest point in 70 years is a numbers-massaging game that many voters aren’t buying. The CBO calculates the deficit by using the U.S. GDP as a baseline – and the GDP took a swan dive in the late Bush years and has been crawling since then. Forbes had an excellent article last month that further explains why Obama, of all people, knows he can’t play up a Federal deficit statistic as a point of pride for his Administration.

How did voters rate immigration reform and climate change on the to-do list for Congress? Only six percent named immigration as their top priority – the lowest figure measured in the poll.

As for climate change? It didn’t even make the list.

House Holds Lerner In Contempt

The House of Representatives voted today to hold former IRS administrator Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about her knowledge of how the agency carried out discriminatory stonewalling of conservative nonprofit organizations as President Barack Obama campaigned for reelection.

The 231-187 vote, approved by all House Republicans and six Democrats, moves the criminal contempt charge to the office of the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. Early speculation by pundits and Congress members put the chances of a prosecution moving forward against Lerner at 50-50.

Unlike the Department of Justice’s shrugging off of similar contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder in 2012, Lerner’s case isn’t safely ensconced by the protection of an executive privilege memo from the Obama Administration. While the President could authorize such an order, that, too, would signal to House Republicans who’ve investigated the IRS scandal that Obama indeed believes Lerner knows something he’d rather her not reveal.

“They wouldn’t have a pre-established Justice Department decision on this one,” law professor Charles Tiefer told The Hill.

“If DOJ decided for whatever reason not to go forward with Lerner in an instance where executive privilege was not raised, that indeed would be new and would signal a further weakening of the congressional contempt statute,” Stan Brand, former House counsel, told POLITICO.

Some House Democrats called the vote a McCarthyist witch hunt and insinuated Republicans weren’t focusing on important topics during an election season. But few actually took issue with the contempt charge on its merits.

The quote of the day came from Oversight Committee Democrat Elijah Cummings – who himself has been implicated in the scandal recently, for allegedly communicating with the IRS to direct the agency’s attention to a Texas conservative group ripe for discriminatory targeting.

“I am not defending Ms. Lerner,” he said. “But I cannot vote to violate an individual’s 5th Amendment rights just because I want to hear what she has to say.”

The Republican Establishment’s Fear Of The ‘L’ Word

One day before Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tied with Jeb Bush to top yet another hypothetical GOP Presidential poll, potential Republican competitor Rick Santorum hatched a media strategy that’s likely to be widely duplicated in some GOP factions if Paul’s Presidential stock continues to rise: making “libertarian” sound like a dirty word.

As Santorum and just about every other Republican name brand knows, Rand Paul is not an outright libertarian — at least, not Rand Paul the Senator, GOP party member and possible Presidential candidate. He’s a fiscal conservative who strongly advocates for government to play no extra-Constitutional role in sorting out Americans’ civil liberties.

But he’s also Ron Paul’s son, and — for GOP establishment types, as well as the party’s conservative-right faction — that may turn out to be his greatest political liability through the 2016 primary season. He’s aware that a successful Presidential run will necessarily require casting a wider net, striking a tone with dispassionate voters that isn’t strident. He’s also aware that getting elected President is virtually impossible without persuading stalwart donor titans that he has a steady hand on their apple cart. In his talking points, his speech on foreign policy and individual liberties (drugs, homosexuality, religious freedoms) is restrained and, at times, politically vague in a way his father’s speech never was.

But even Paul’s deference to civil liberties, or the mere shadow of his father’s strongly polarizing legacy, is enough fodder for conservatives — like Santorum — who’ve shown the early signs of ascending along the GOP’s establishment path to political fortune. Late Monday, Santorum made sure to put as much distance between that dirty “L” word and his brand of Republican conservatism as possible, telling CNN “the Republican Party is not a libertarian party.”

No kidding. But the message he sent was more subtle: There’s no room in Santorum’s Republican Party for ostensible “libertarians” like Rand Paul.

We’ve trod this ground before. Last summer, back when the implications of the GOP’s new-blood insurgency were even murkier for 2016, Personal Liberty’s Sam Rolley discussed how the very idea of libertarianism can fracture the party:

The reason the GOP isn’t packed with politicians like Paul, Ted Cruz (Texas) and Justin Amash (Mich.) is because establishment Republicans are fond of accusing any lawmaker who dares question government’s power of having “libertarian ideas.” And it’s certainly an effective strategy, packing a one-two punch that makes foreign policy hawks balk at the idea of a Federal government unwilling to stick cannon in the face of any nation brazen enough to question American imperialism — and giving religious-right conservatives nightmares about a GOP moving toward accepting gays, abortions, drugs and all-out godlessness.

Santorum’s tactic for resisting even a little bit of libertarianism in the GOP is to anoint it an enemy and then charge straight at it. And it looks like the libertarian enemy in the Republican Party is going to be Rand Paul — not because he’s a dogmatic libertarian, but because his GOP detractors believe in the vote-swaying power of his perceived baggage.

“He’s not my leader, I can tell you that for sure,” Santorum said. “His father and I had some disagreements during the last campaign.”

At this point, Ron Paul could publicly disown his son, but it wouldn’t matter. The far political right is determined to steer Rand Paul’s political career into his father’s long, indelible shadow.

Democracy Alliance’s Mixed Signals

Democracy Alliance (DA), the “philanthropic” pass-through organization that helps move secret contributions from benefactors — like George Soros and Tom Steyer — to the campaign war chests of progressive Congressional candidates, is finally beginning to receive a trickle of mainstream scrutiny for the striking inconsistency between its message and its methods.

DA was formed in 2005 by Soros and other very wealthy progressives with the initial aim of promoting leftist social goals through philanthropy. When Vice President Joe Biden asked for campaign help during President Barack Obama’s bid for re-election, though, DA got directly into politics. There is a very tightly knit, and largely well-concealed, chain of communication and financing between the constellation of major DA donors and Democratic candidates who increasingly view the organization as a magic well of campaign cash.

Those same candidates hew to a campaign strategy that blasts the ostensible ties between Big Money cronies (hello, Koch brothers) and conservative politics. That line of argument holds that evil billionaires manipulate conservative politicians by lavishing their campaigns with private wealth, and they are lavished in return by corrupt policymaking that ensures the rich get richer.

While that sounds like a fine description of corporate-political cronyism in general, it has nothing to do with partisanship. Or, if it does have to do with party affiliation, the Democrats need to re-examine their talking points — because they’re trouncing their Republican rivals in the campaign finance arms race.

On cue, the DA spring meeting in April played out like an allegory of that particular strain of progressive hypocrisy. Here’s a sampling of POLITICO reporter Kenneth P. Vogel’s takeaway from the event:

Democratic attacks on the Koch brothers for secretive campaign spending have become a virtual plank in the party’s platform, but it turns out big-money liberals can be just as defensive when their own closed-door activities are put in the spotlight.

Stop for a moment; who said anything about the Koch brothers being defensive? Oh, only Vogel himself. So this should be a puff mainstream media piece about like-minded donors and politicians, right?

During a gathering here of major Democratic donors this week that has raised more than $30 million for liberal groups, questions about the party’s split personality on the issue were dodged, rejected or answered with an array of rationalizations. That is, when they weren’t met with recriminations or even gentle physical force.

…The liberal strain of the argument is usually sprinkled with a heaping helping of moral superiority. Their most generous backers are giving to candidates and causes that could hurt their bottom line by raising taxes on the denizens of their elite tax bracket, the argument goes, whereas conservative big donors are seeking to pad their pockets by trying to slash taxes and regulations that impinge on their business.

… [Obama adviser Valerie] Jarrett refused to make eye contact with a reporter asking such a question on Monday night, while [New York Mayor Bill] de Blasio on Sunday night said, “My friend, we’re not doing media right now. We’re happy to talk to you another time,” as a handler stepped between the quick-walking mayor and a reporter. When [Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan] Grimes, following a closed-door meet-and-greet with major donors Tuesday, was asked about liberal efforts to vilify the Kochs and other major conservative donors, she said, “I sure appreciate your time. You have to go through our communications department,” then stepped into an elevator and stood behind an aide.

Communications staffers for de Blasio and Grimes did not respond to subsequent requests for comment.

Democracy Alliance staff chastised a reporter during an attempt to interview major donor Jonathan Soros as he headed toward a panel on campaign finance reform. “Sir, you’re not allowed to go past here,” said one staffer, as another grabbed this reporter’s arm to prevent him from walking with Soros, who co-founded a super PAC, called Friends of Democracy, that intends to spend as much as $6 million in 2014 boosting candidates who support campaign finance reforms including enhanced disclosure.

Soon after, three hotel security officers approached to put the kibosh on additional inquiries.

Vogel also points out one of the progressive mind’s central delusions: that the means justify the ends, so long as the actors convince themselves (and, crucially, everyone else) that they’re acting on principle instead of self-interest.

“You can focus on the irony, but it’s not hypocrisy because we’re not trying to get something for our donations,” donor Arnold Hiatt told Vogel.

If wealthy donors truly believe that, then — to politicians’ great delight — they’ve admirably elevated the phrase “useful idiot.”

Supreme Court Passes On New Jersey Gun Control Case

The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed its ongoing hands-off stance on taking up cases involving 2nd Amendment rights today, declining without comment to hear a New Jersey case that challenges the Constitutionality of a State law forbidding lawful gun owners from carrying their firearms in public.

In passing on the highly scrutinized case, Drake v. Jerejian, the court allows to stand a ruling that affirms the state’s power to limit a gun owner’s right to carry a concealed weapon outside the home “for self-defense.”

The implicit merit attached to the case is that self-defense is, in fact, the central issue underlying the intent of the 2nd Amendment. SCOTUS blog, which first reported the Supreme Court’s non-action today, summarizes the merits this way:

Issue: (1) Whether the Second Amendment secures a right to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense; and (2) whether state officials violate the Second Amendment by requiring that individuals wishing to exercise their right to carry a handgun for self-defense first prove a “justifiable need” for doing so.

On both points, the Supreme Court would certainly have had a clear path to rule the State law unConstitutional.

By way of speculation, there could be a hidden silver lining in the Court’s inaction: If the only way to accept this case on the merits was to weigh the plaintiffs’ argument attaching the concept of “self-defense” to the intent of the 2nd Amendment, then the Court could have set a bad precedent — even if it had ruled in favor of the plaintiffs — if its ruling whittled down the 2nd Amendment’s meaning to apply only to “self-defense” when, in fact, the Founders wrote an Amendment that is manifestly broad in scope.

“Self-defense,” except perhaps from the government itself (as inferred from the 2nd Amendment’s understood acceptance of the need for a well-regulated militia), isn’t mentioned in the original document, and no action by the Supreme Court is at least preferable to an action that limits the 2nd Amendment only to that application.

Nonetheless, the plaintiffs end up the big losers in this instance. Drake v. Jerejian arose from a challenge to a New Jersey law requiring lawful gun owners to demonstrate to their government an “urgent need,” based on their need for self-defense, to take their guns with them anywhere outside the home. According to Newark’s Star-Ledger, gun owners must obtain the approval of both a “police official and a judge” for a permit that allows them to carry a concealed handgun at large.

The case was first filed by a store owner who, after experiencing an ordeal at the hands of kidnappers, applied for and was denied a concealed carry permit. Over its life span, the case has taken on other plaintiffs, and it currently involves a different plaintiff whose job involves transporting cash. Like the original plaintiff, the current plaintiff cites self-defense as his basis for requesting a concealed carry permit for a handgun.

Attorney Alan Gura, who’s won two previous landmark cases involving municipal gun laws before the Supreme Court, had been representing the plaintiffs in the Drake case. He told Reason today that the court’s passivity on the issue is amounts to a form of neglect for precedents it’s already established against overzealous local limitations on the scope of the 2nd Amendment.

“We’ve seen courts rubberstamp just about any kind of law that violates the Second Amendment,” said Gura. “Unless the Supreme Court decides to enforce its pronouncements, the Second Amendment will apply only to the extent that some lower courts are willing to honor Supreme Court precedent.”

Read more on the ruling at the Star-Ledger, and follow its history on the SCOTUS blog.

Rick Perry: Forget The Minimum Wage; Worry About The ‘Maximum Wage’

Texas Governor and potential Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry made smoke come out of confused progressive viewers’ ears Sunday when he told host David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that his administration isn’t concerned with raising the minimum wage in Texas — rather, it’s focused on raising the “maximum wage.”

“We focus on the maximum wage rather than the minimum wage,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of all the jobs that were created in my home State were above the minimum wage — so the idea [isn’t] that you should be focused on the minimum wage, when, in fact, you should be focused on policies that create this environment where jobs can be created.”

Perry was referring to President Barack Obama’s effort to persuade Congressional Democrats to pass an across-the-board increase to the $7.25 hourly Federal minimum wage. A Democrat-backed bill aiming to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour — widely viewed as an ill-fated and symbolic piece of “statement” legislation intended to draw clear election-year distinctions between Republicans and Democrats — failed in the Senate last Wednesday.

Obama and Senate Democrats quickly cashed in on the political capital earned by that defeat. “If your member of Congress doesn’t support raising the minimum wage, you gotta let them know they’re out of step and if they keep putting politics ahead of working Americans, you’ll put them out of office,” said the President, only hours after Republicans in the Senate blocked the bill.

Perry’s “maximum wage” comments continue a common policy theme in the Texas Governor’s office: getting out of the way of the private-sector economy and watching the open-ended, free-market compulsion to make money work its magic. He has repeatedly blasted the Federal minimum wage as one among many interventionist policies that yield precisely the economic harms their political advocates pledge such policies will avert.

“It’s not a trade secret,” Perry wrote in USA Today last October. “[I]t’s common sense. We maintain low taxes, smart regulations and fair courts…[E]very state in America can do what Texas has done. They just have to be willing to compete.”

Tech Giants Defy Government Demands For Secret Electronic Data Mining

Colluding with the government to secretly hand over law-abiding citizens’ private data might be bad for business in the long run, so many U.S-based tech giants are beginning to defy Federal law enforcement whenever they’re requested to do just that.

At least, that’s what The Washington Post reported late last week.

But in a world in which Edward Snowden continually reminds Americans that anyone involved in government surveillance can still find out everything you do online, “from a Federal judge to the President of the United States” as long as they’ve got your email address, it’s hard to gauge just how significant Big Data’s self-imposed nullification of government demands really is.

At the very least, it’s something. Tech companies are still complying with subpoenas that demand submitting bulk data to various law enforcement agencies, but many have begun insisting that individuals targeted in the subpoenas be informed that they’re being spied on. There’s still an enormous legal catch, though: any data requests that emanate either from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or from a National Security Letter still carry a mandatory gag order.

Yet, the Post reports the scale of the tech companies’ defiance is sufficient to make the government’s unilateral enforcement of its piecemeal demands for secret data mining nearly impossible:

This increasingly defiant industry stand is giving some of the tens of thousands of Americans whose Internet data gets swept into criminal investigations each year the opportunity to fight in court to prevent disclosures.

…Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google all are updating their policies to expand routine notification of users about government data seizures, unless specifically gagged by a judge or other legal authority, officials at all four companies said. Yahoo announced similar changes in July.

As this position becomes uniform across the industry, U.S. tech companies will ignore the instructions stamped on the fronts of subpoenas urging them not to alert subjects about data requests, industry lawyers say. Companies that already routinely notify users have found that investigators often drop data demands to avoid having suspects learn of inquiries.

…The changing legal standards of technology companies most directly affect federal, state and local criminal investigators, who have found that companies increasingly balk at data requests once considered routine.

To counter the changes, the U.S. Department of Justice is trying to bring the old ways back – although the only tool it’s yet wielded for doing so, remarkably, is public relations. The DOJ issued a statement criticizing the tech industry’s policy shift for “endangering life, risking destruction of evidence, or allowing suspects to flee or intimidate witnesses,” alleging that secrecy in surveillance is the very basis for a successful investigation.

The tech companies don’t have a problem with that logic, so long as it’s applied to individual suspects instead of to indiscriminate user groups that might – or might not – contain an individual involved in some unknown criminal endeavor.

“The intent is to make sure it’s not a rubber stamp. That way we’re not releasing customer information without due process,” said one industry representative.

Due process flowing from the private sector, to protect Americans from a government that flouts Constitutional limits on searches and seizures…it’s a novel concept, and strangely indicative of just how dramatically times have changed.

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

Mass Flight From U.S. Labor Force Drives Down April Unemployment

The U.S. labor force benefited from the creation of 288,000 jobs last month, the highest number since the start of 2012, and the National rate of unemployment concurrently fell from 6.7 percent in March to 6.3 percent.

You can see how Bloomberg and the Associated Press reported the good news here and here.

Read far enough into those stories – and it will take you a while – and you’ll eventually encounter the lede: The number of people participating in the U.S. labor force in April shrank by a staggering 800,000. As you know, people who aren’t looking for work aren’t counted in the BLS’ calculation of the unemployment rate. Yet the number of people who have bowed out of the American labor force now stands at 92 million.

That’s nearly one-third of the population of the entire country – and roughly 38 percent of the 241 million residents over the age of 18.

With 38 percent of American adults not even trying to find work, what difference does a 6.3 percent unemployment rate make? The Obama Administration found the silver lining in the April numbers, noting that the actual rate of job creation is, in fact accelerating – which, so far as it goes, is certainly true – and that several economic sectors saw an uptick in hiring during April (also true).

But the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers also reveal that hourly earnings did not increase – an indicator that much of that growth is still coming in the form of low-wage, low-skill jobs (so much for closing that pernicious wealth gap, Obama).

And, stepping back, the labor economy in the U.S. reflects an ongoing anemic “recovery” trend – one that hasn’t seen growth commensurate with periods of economic growth through the last two decades of the 20th Century – often cited as a benchmark by which present economic growth is measured.

“Unfortunately, the effects of currency manipulation on the U.S. economy – along with self-imposed restraints on oil and gas development and the manifest inefficiencies imposed by dysfunctional management and profiteering in health care, higher education, and finance – have lowered U.S. annual growth to 1.7 percent since the turn of the century from the 3.4 percent pace accomplished during the Reagan-Clinton era,” wrote Peter Morici for Breitbart today.

“Consequently, jobs creation lags population growth. The unemployment rate, which fell to 6.3 percent in April from 6.7 percent the prior month, wholly masks the extent of the problem. The percentage of adults seeking employment dropped precipitously. One out of six men between the ages of 25 and 54 are without jobs, and many have given up looking for work and are not counted in the jobless rate.”

Missouri Legislature Nears Approval Of Nullification Bill To Limit Federal Gun Control

The Missouri State Legislature is on the verge of forwarding a bill to Democratic Governor Jay Nixon that, if signed into law, will nullify virtually all Federal gun laws while asserting the State’s rejection of “unlimited submission” to Federal powers not enumerated in the Constitution.

On Wednesday, the Missouri State Senate approved a bill that originated in the State House of Representatives – HB 1439 – and returned the measure, with minor markups, to the House for final approval. The House had originally passed the bill on an overwhelming 110-36 vote. The Senate followed suit, approving the measure by a vote of 23-8.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center blog, both chambers tagged the measure as an “emergency” bill, which fast-tracks its enactment sooner than the standard 90 days required for news laws to take effect after a legislative session has adjourned for the year.

As the Tenth Amendment Center notes, embedding in the measure’s language is a strong message to the Federal government about the Missouri Legislature’s position on State sovereignty vis-à-vis the Federal government:

With language inspired by Thomas Jefferson, HB1439 declares that the state rejects the idea of “unlimited submission” to federal power. It also declares that “whenever the federal government assumes powers that the people did not grant it in the Constitution, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

… The state capitol city’s namesake [that’s Jefferson City] would have been proud, said Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey. “This is exactly what Thomas Jefferson himself said that states had a duty to do,” he said. “States aren’t supposed to stand by and do nothing while the federal government violates the Constitution. And they’re not supposed to be willing partners in the act either.”

What does HB 1439 do? It pretty much nullifies anything the Federal government attempts to do to guns that the 2nd Amendment hasn’t already covered: “All federal acts, laws, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, and regulations, whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Here’s the relevant portion of the measure the Senate approved this week:

(8) The people of Missouri have vested the general assembly with the authority to regulate the manufacture, possession, exchange, and use of firearms within the borders of this state, subject only to the limits imposed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Missouri Constitution; and

(9) The general assembly of the state of Missouri strongly promotes responsible gun ownership, including parental supervision of minors in the proper use, storage, and ownership of all firearms, the prompt reporting of stolen firearms, and the proper enforcement of all state gun laws. The general assembly of the state of Missouri hereby condemns any unlawful transfer of firearms and the use of any firearm in any criminal or unlawful activity.

1.410. The following federal acts, laws, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, and regulations shall be considered infringements on the people’s right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and article I, section 23 of the Constitution of Missouri, within the borders of this state, including, but not limited to:

(1) Any tax, levy, fee, or stamp imposed on firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition not common to all other goods and services which might reasonably be expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;

(2) Any registering or tracking of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition which might reasonably be expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;

(3) Any registering or tracking of the owners of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition which might reasonably be expected to create a chilling effect on the purchase or ownership of those items by law-abiding citizens;

(4) Any act forbidding the possession, ownership, or use or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition by law-abiding citizens; and

(5) Any act ordering the confiscation of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition from law-abiding citizens.

1.420. All federal acts, laws, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, and regulations, whether past, present, or future, which infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution shall be invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, shall be specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.

Pennsylvania High Court Allows Police To Search Vehicles Without Warrant

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion this week that opens the way for local police to avail themselves of the same warrantless search powers that Federal law enforcement officers operating in the State already enjoy when stopping and questioning motorists.

In a 4-2 ruling, the Court on Tuesday concluded that municipal police may search a vehicle without a warrant, even over the objections of its owner and/or its occupants, if they have developed sufficient probable cause to believe the vehicle may be an accessory to criminal activity.

The decision stems from an appeal of a 2010 case in Philadelphia in which police searched a man’s car without a warrant after pulling over the driver – Shiem Gary – because they believed his window tinting was too dark. Once Gary was stopped, the officers said they smelled marijuana and brought out a drug dog, who promptly “hit” on a suspicious area of the car. The vehicle indeed had two pounds’ worth of marijuana underneath its hood, and Gary went to jail.

The Court’s majority opinion notes that other States already have streamlined their laws to overlap with the powers afforded Federal law enforcement agents. Pennsylvania’s reversal, according to Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, simply allows local police to adhere to a “uniform standard for a warrantless search of a motor vehicle, applicable in federal and state court, to avoid unnecessary confusion, conflict and inconsistency in this often-litigated area.”

But critics argue the decision needlessly expands the power of the state at a time in our Nation’s history when individual rights have never been more threatened by an overreaching government.

“It’s an expanding encroachment of government power,” defense attorney Jeffrey Conrad told Lancaster, Pa. court reporter Brett Hambright “It’s a protection we had two days ago, that we don’t have today. It’s disappointing from a citizens’ rights perspective.”

Writing for the minority, Justice Debra McCloskey Todd agreed, objecting that the Court’s new direction “heedlessly contravenes over 225 years of unyielding protection against unreasonable search and seizure which our people have enjoyed as their birthright.”

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

Rahm Emanuel’s Ex-Comptroller Gets Arrested In Pakistan With Fake Passport Ahead Of Prison Sentence In Federal Fraud Case

The man whom Chicago mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel tapped as Chicago’s comptroller has been arrested in Pakistan after allegedly fleeing there with a fake passport to avoid Federal apprehension on settled fraud charges.

Amer Ahmad, who served as the deputy State Treasurer of Ohio before Emanuel recruited him to his Chicago mayoral cabinet, was stopped and subsequently arrested by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency after he successfully made it past the U.S. air screening apparatus with the allegedly false credentials, before Pakistani police suspected the documents and did a quick Google search that revealed he was a wanted man in the United States.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Ahmad was using a forged Mexican passport and a forged Pakistani visa to enter Pakistan. He was due for sentencing in a Federal fraud case that stemmed from his time as an employee of the State of Ohio, before Emanuel hired him into his Chicago mayoral staff.

In a request for a protection order against her husband last week, Ahmad’s wife, Samar, had told court officials that he had asked her to help him obtain a false birth certificate so that he could get a fake passport, and had threatened to harm her if she did not comply.

Ahmad has been wanted by U.S. Marshals since last week on suspicion that he was not abiding by the terms of bail in his Ohio case – a case in which he pleaded guilty late last year for conspiracy to commit bribery, money laundering and wire fraud. He was facing a maximum prison sentence that ranges from five to ten years under Federal sentencing guidelines. A Pakistani investigator told the Tribune Ahmad may also be facing up to seven years in Pakistani prison on the passport and visa fraud charges there.

Asked by the Tribune Wednesday about his feelings on his former comptroller’s arrest, Emanuel focused on other things.

“I’ve got to be honest, sorry about this, but let me give you this sense of reaction: I was thinking about plastic bags before Amer. I was thinking about petcoke regulations before Amer. I was thinking about how proud we all are of the Whitney Young basketball team, of their accomplishments on the court and in the classroom. That all came before that, so, gives you some sense of perspective on it.”

Check the Chicago Tribune’s full story for much more background on the Federal charges, as well as the circumstances leading up to Ahmad’s arrest Wednesday.

Federal Campaign Watchdog Resigns After Admitting To Campaigning For Obama

An attorney working for the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Federal body tasked with ensuring the integrity of the campaign process, has resigned following the uncovering of evidence that he (or she) actively campaigned for President Barack Obama while on the job.

According to The Washington Times, the unnamed employee admitted to stumping for Obama during the 2012 election cycle, allegedly tweeting pro-Obama messages and even participating in a broadcast conducted on FEC property in which the employee spoke critically of Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced on Tuesday it had reached a settlement with the employee after it had investigated allegations the staffer had violated the Hatch Act’s prohibition of Federal workers from doing political campaign work while on the job. OSC would not provide details of the settlement to the media.

From The Washington Times:

The employee, a lawyer whose name wasn’t divulged, solicited campaign donations for Mr. Obama and other political campaigns, and even took part in a web broadcast from an FEC facility where the employee criticized the GOP and Republican 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Those moves violate the Hatch Act, the 1939 federal law sharply restricting federal government employees’ campaign activity. The Office of Special Counsel, which investigates Hatch Act violations, announced the steps — though a spokesman said they couldn’t give out any more details.

The employee had been on administrative leave ever since the start of the investigation. A condition of the settlement OSC did disclose is that the employee agreed not to seek employment with the Federal government – for two years.

New Police Footage Renews Scrutiny On Nevada’s Asset Forfeiture Law

If an armed person stops a motorist in one of the Nation’s most deserted areas and demands that person hand over the large sum of cash he’s carrying, doesn’t that make the armed person a brigand?

Nevada’s asset forfeiture laws deputize brigands – or, rather, they make brigands of deputies. The wrinkle is that it’s the State, and not the guy with the gun, that keeps the money…If, that is, the brigand is honest about how much money he’s confiscated.

New police video footage released to KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, Nev. on Tuesday has renewed scrutiny of State asset forfeiture laws, while especially sharpening the public perception of one Humboldt County deputy who seems to have State-sanctioned highway robbery down to a science.

First, it’s helpful to remember a couple of points about the setting. Humboldt County, which forms part of the State’s northern border with Oregon, has a population density of roughly two people per square mile. It’s desolate mountain desert country, but a sliver of one of America’s great coast-to-coast highways – Interstate 80 – runs through Humboldt County’s southeastern corner. I-80 takes people to and from Reno, a town where people can legally win and lose money at gambling, and it delivers many people who’ve packed their valuables and their budding ambitions from the Nation’s eastern half to the populated West Coast – the mythic land of the American dream.

It stands to reason that people, for one legal reason or another, often carry cash when they drive I-80 through Nevada. And, as highway robbers throughout history have well understood, it also stands to reason that it’s easiest to shake down travelers in the remotest location possible. Humboldt County has both those boxes checked.

So it’s against that fertile backdrop for roadside shakedowns that officers like deputy Lee Dove, under the aegis of zealous drug enforcement, stop motorists and ask them a series of leading questions that, if answered incorrectly, will lead to drivers saying goodbye forever to their cash.

Here’s how KLAS investigative reporter Glen Meek describes one unnamed motorist’s encounter with deputy Dove:

One deputy in particular is being singled out for his practice of pressuring travelers to abandon their money or face losing their cars as well. The I-Team has obtained exclusive dash-cam video from one of these drug interdiction stops. While no drugs were found, that didn’t stop the deputy from grabbing the cash.

“How much money you got?” Humboldt County Deputy Lee Dove can be heard asking on the video.

Dove can be seen dropping cash on the hood of the car.

Deputy Dove: “That’s not yours, is it?”

Motorist: “That’s mine.”

Deputy Dove: “Well, I’m seizing it.”

… The out-of-state motorist was stopped for doing 78 mph in an 75 mph zone. Deputy Dove finds $50,000 cash and $10,000 in cashiers checks during a search of the car.

The first issue is whether Dove obtained permission to search the car or whether he simply told the driver, Tan Nguyen, he was going to do it.

Deputy Dove: “Well, I’m gonna search that vehicle first, ok?”

Nguyen: “Hey, what’s the reason you’re searching my car?”

Deputy Dove: “Because I’m talking to you … well, no, I don’t have to explain that to you. I’m not going to explain that to you, but I am gonna put my drug dog on that (pointing to money). If my dog alerts, I’m seizing the money. You can try to get it back but you’re not.”

Nguyen: (inaudible) got it in Vegas.”

Deputy Dove: “Good luck proving it. Good luck proving it. You’ll burn it up in attorney fees before we give it back to you.”

But Dove never seizes the money under state forfeiture law, instead he offers Nguyen a deal. Abandon the cash and you can leave with the cashiers checks. Otherwise, Dove will confiscate the cash anyway and tow the car because Nguyen’s name isn’t on the rental agreement.

Deputy Dove: “It’s your call. If you want to walk away, you can take the cashiers checks, the car and everything and you can bolt and you’re on your way. But you’re gonna be walking away from this money and abandoning it.

Fifty-thousand dollars gone. Nevada’s asset forfeiture laws basically sanction law enforcement to follow the ABCs any sustenance robber should live by (Always Be Confiscating), since revenue generated from seizures and the sale of forfeited assets must be spent within one year.

For now, all this is perfectly legal in Nevada, as well as other States. What’s interesting is that this isn’t the first time Dove has come under public scrutiny for his excellence in confiscation. Here’s a fascinating account, posted by The Heritage Foundation in early April, of another of deputy Dove’s successful exploits.

*Edit to correct an error in the original story: Humboldt County, Nev. forms part of the State’s northern border with Oregon, not Montana (that’s two whole States away.) Thanks to our commenters, who noticed and pointed out the error.

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.

http://youtu.be/0b3nM5V7xfY

animate

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.