Ted Cruz’ Name Carries Weight For Texas GOP Candidates, With Or Without His Formal Endorsement

Even though he isn’t up for reelection this year, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is finding his name widely circulated among Texas Republicans trying to find moral high ground in their ideological game of last man standing.

That’s true not only in the few instances in which he’s publicly endorsing candidates, but in the many instances when candidates invoke his idealism to illustrate that they hew to similarly uncompromising positions as Washington, D.C. iconoclasts.

From the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, here’s a list of instances in which politically aspirational Texans are calling on the name of Ted Cruz to cement their rapport with conservative voters:

• In the Senate District 10 race, Republican Konni Burton of Colleyville snagged one of the few endorsements Cruz has given. “She’s a tireless, unwavering warrior for the conservative cause. Konni is a fighter and will serve the people of Texas well. I urge voters in her district to support her,” Cruz has said.
• In the race for the 32nd Congressional District, which pits longtime U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Dallas against Tea Party activist Katrina Pierson, the challenger’s website features a photo of Cruz and a quote from him: “Katrina Pierson is an utterly fearless principled conservative.”
• Four Republicans on the Texas Supreme Court who are seeking re-election — Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justices Jeff Brown, Jeff Boyd and Phil Johnson — picked up a joint endorsement from Cruz. “I wholeheartedly endorse all of them,” he posted on his Facebook page. “These justices are judicial conservatives, and we can depend on them to uphold the law.” Hecht is among those touting the endorsement on his website.
• State Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, is running for Texas Attorney General and his website features a photo of him standing next to Cruz with one comment from the senator: “Ken Paxton is a tireless conservative warrior.”
• Wayne Christian, a Republican seeking a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, has sent out campaign fliers featuring photos of Cruz with the question “Who stood with Ted Cruz?” and the answer “Wayne Christian stood with Ted Cruz when he was only polling 2%.”

Cruz is, of course, a polarizing public figure. Someone who’s earned as much respect from his political base also cultivates a concomitant measure of hatred from political adversaries. But Texas Republicans are betting that Cruz’ popularity in his home State will tip the balance in favor of conservatism – and electoral victory – when the last ballot has been counted in this year’s midterm elections.

Supreme Court Strikes Blow To 4th Amendment With Homeowner Consent Ruling

The Supreme Court ruled today that police, without a warrant, may legally enter and search a dwelling even over the vehement protestations of an occupant, so long as a co-occupant grants them access.

That decision reverses a 2006 ruling, which held that the refusal of even one occupant to allow a warrantless search was sufficient to keep law enforcement from entering a home.

Today’s ruling in Fernandez v. California was handed down in a 6-3 opinion, led by Justice Samuel Alito writing for the majority. The case involved an LAPD search of a house they believed harbored a robbery suspect. The suspect, Walter Fernandez, wouldn’t let them inside the house. But the police argued that Fernandez’ girlfriend, Roxanne Rojas, looked sketchy enough to suggest a probable cause for domestic violence – an unrelated charge. They went in and arrested Fernandez on the DV charge, removed him from the home, and in the meantime sought and got on-site permission from Rojas to search the home. That search produced evidence that tied Fernandez to the robbery – the reason the police had shown up in the first place.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito argued that Rojas’ permission carried equal weight (really, greater weight) with that of Fernandez’ denial:

A warrantless consent search is reasonable and thus consistent with the Fourth Amendment irrespective of the availability of a warrant… Denying someone in Rojas’ position the right to allow the police to enter her home would also show disrespect for her independence.

Compare Alito’s words with those of retired Justice David Souter, who wrote the majority opinion for a similar case – with a very different outcome – in November of 2006:

The pragmatic decision to accept the simplicity of this line is, moreover, supported by the substantial number of instances in which suspects who are asked for permission to search actually consent, albeit imprudently, a fact that undercuts any argument that the police should try to locate a suspected inhabitant because his denial of consent would be a foregone conclusion.

This case invites a straightforward application of the rule that a physically present inhabitant’s express refusal of consent to a police search is dispositive [that is, settled and absolute] as to him, regardless of the consent of a fellow occupant.

It appears evident that the police got their man, and no one is bemoaning a travesty of justice for a man whom evidence suggests had committed a crime. But today’s ruling is a back-door way into people’s homes – one without a guarantee that law enforcement will always be in the right. It invites the police to escalate impromptu searches by keeping them persistent at a dwelling until they get what they came for. It creates an invitation to law enforcement to find someone – anyone – living in a home whom they can convince to grant them access, after first being explicitly refused access by another occupant.

Whereas Souter and the majority found, in 2006, that one refusal was enough to force police to demonstrate probable cause to search a home, Alito has invited the police to go fishing for the most gullible or legally naive resident who might be found at the premises. All they need is a “yes” – any “yes.”

Americans View Obama As A Weak Diplomat Who Gets No Global Respect

President Barack Obama is, in the eyes of the majority of Americans, a President who is failing to earn respect from his global peers – even as Americans continue to believe the U.S. as a Nation commands international respect.

That’s the finding of a Gallup poll released Monday, which revealed 53 percent of Americans now view Obama as a man who isn’t respected by other world leaders. Only 41 percent believe the President does hold the esteem of foreign heads of state.

Those are the lowest polling numbers for Obama’s diplomatic prestige since he first took office. The President fell not only in the eyes of Republicans, but also of Democrats and Independents – in fact, the sinking numbers are primarily the result of his drop among Democrats and independents.

Last year, 80 percent of Democrats said Obama held the respect of global leaders. This year, that number is down to 69 percent. Only 19 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of independent voters said Obama is respected as a world leader this year – down from 21 percent and 49 percent, respectively.

Here’s more from Gallup:

Americans’ perceptions of how other nations view the U.S. have not changed in the past year, but their opinions of how world leaders view the president have. Now, Americans believe other world leaders generally do not respect Obama. This could be related to a series of tense moments in the past year between Obama and prominent foreign leaders, many of whom are close U.S. allies.

Americans themselves are not overly positive about the way the president is handling foreign affairs specifically, with 40% approving of his job in that area, one percentage point above his low last November.

The President still has a way to go before sinking to the lowest poll number ever, set by George W. Bush in 2007, when only 21 percent of Americans believed other leaders respected him.

Then again, Obama’s overall poll numbers have begun to bear a peculiar similarity to his predecessor’s.

Soros Group’s Political Spending Tripled In 2013

George Soros, billionaire hero to progressive activists looking for a financial lifeline everywhere, ramped up political spending threefold through his Open Society Policy Center and its financial affiliate in 2013 – and there’s no reason to believe he’s slowing down.

According to The Washington Post, Soros-funded lobbying tripled in 2013, from $3.25 million to $11 million. Unlike many of the business titans that top the list, which either orchestrate their own lobbying from within or dole the money to paid professionals, the Soros group prefers to give their causes the money and turn them loose – grass roots style.

The Open Society Policy Center itself attributes most of the jump in spending last year to the mounting progressive push to get Congress to accept a wholesale immigration reform plan in 2013.

The Open Society Foundations – the money-granting policy machine affiliated with the Open Society Policy Center that Soros first launched in 1979 – gave the lion’s share of its 2013 grant funds to the Alliance for Citizenship, an immigration-reform nonprofit. So far, that money hasn’t produced results – and in a Congressional election year, it’s unlikely to in 2014.

From the Post:

The Alliance for Citizenship organized hundreds of events across the country in August, hoping that its town halls, prayer vigils and sit-ins would propel action on immigration. While momentum has stalled, the organization is still at it, marching and meeting with members of Congress and their staffs.

But the spending appears to be more about saturation than quality, with sheer volume trumping short-term success. As the Post observes, Soros agreed late last year to co-chair the most well-organized of the several political action committees anticipating a Hillary Clinton bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination – pledging titanic resources to back “a candidate who hasn’t even announced.”

Obama’s False ‘7 Million’ Obamacare Claim Earns Dubious Four Pinocchios From WaPo

President Barack Obama told an assemblage of Democratic governors last week that, thanks to Obamacare’s mandatory Medicaid expansion in States that match the Federal government’s health care subsidy, “We’ve got close to seven million Americans who have access to health care for the first time.”

It’s nowhere close to being true. Even Obama Administration apologist The Washington Post couldn’t find a grain of truth in the statement.

The newspaper’s Fact Checker feature targeted the President’s boast today, noting that debunking the Administration’s frequent lies about Obamacare’s success “is like playing whack-a-mole. Every time we rap someone for getting it wrong, the same problem pops up someplace else. But here is the ultimate authority — the president of the United States — making the problematic claim that everyone counted under the administration’s Medicaid math is getting ‘access to health care for the first time.’”

What is true is that there’s no way to know right now how many people have access to health care “for the first time” because of the Medicaid expansion – but it’s certainly lower than 7 million. That’s because Obama included in his boast new Medicaid enrollees not only from the Medicaid-expanding Obamacare States, but also in the 21 States that have rejected the plan. Whoever enrolled in Medicaid in States like Florida and Texas would have enrolled in it anyway since last October. Obamacare simply doesn’t have any effect on Medicaid eligibility in States that aren’t participating in Obamacare.

Of those enrollees who do live in States that embraced Obamacare, many of the claimed 7 million were already on Medicaid last year – they just renewed their coverage and got counted in Obama’s imaginary 7 million figure. Obama likely used an even less rigid standard: the CBO’s estimate of people who were simply eligible for continued Medicaid coverage in 2014.

The Post’s various sources peg the tally of people who are getting (free) insurance for the first time because of Obamacare somewhere between 1.1 million and 2.6 million.

“In any case, no matter how you slice it, it does not add up to 7 million,” the Fact Checker states. “It is dismaying that given all of the attention to this issue, the president apparently does not realize that the administration’s data are woefully inadequate for boastful assertions of this type.”

What a great observation: the President doesn’t realize that his data is too transparently false to be useful as a bolster for his own lies. And for that – and not for actually lying – does the Post question his judgment.

2012 The Strongest Gun Manufacturing Year In U.S. History; Thanks, Obama!

The most recent report on firearms manufacturing from U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) reveals that American gun makers churned out more weapons in 2012 — the last full year for which the ATF has complete data — than any other in the Nation’s history.

Thanks, Obama.

The ATF’s Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report, released in January, shows U.S. manufacturers produced 8,578,610 weapons in 2012, and exported only 287,554 of them — about 3.4 percent. The rest were sold domestically, both to government and to private consumers.

To no one’s surprise, industry professionals thank President Barack Obama’s gun control agenda for the surge in public interest in firearms.

“Barack Obama is the stimulus package for the firearms industry,” Gun Mag editor Dave Workman told Bloomberg Businessweek. “The greatest irony of the Obama administration is that the one industry that he may not have really liked to see healthy has become the healthiest industry in the United States.”

Topping manufacturing volume in 2012 were Sturm Ruger & Co. and Smith & Wesson. Both companies have also seen dramatic jumps in revenue, particularly during the first year of Obama’s second term. Sturm Ruger’s sales through the first three quarters of 2013 rose 45 percent above the company’s nine-month figures for 2012, while Smith & Wesson enjoyed a 25 percent increase over its fiscal year 2012 sales.

The ATF has tracked manufacturing statistics since 1986.

FCC Backs Away From 1st Amendment-Infringing Plan To ‘Study’ Newsrooms

Facing massive backlash from the public over its announced plan to place government contractors in the newsrooms of TV stations and print media to “study critical information needs,” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it would abandon the idea only one day after the plan was made public.

The FCC billed its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” as a hands-off way to gauge “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations” by placing monitors at news outlets to observe the degree to which news organizations rely on input from the communities they serve.

But the FCC has absolutely zero authority to regulate print media, and it would introduce unConstitutional infringements by extending the scope of its regulatory practices over broadcast services to include government scrutiny of content and content creation.

“No one’s that stupid – we know exactly what they’re trying to do,” said Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday in an interview with Ajit Pai:

http://youtu.be/_bUjv9mLvZg

Pai, himself an FCC commissioner, was among the earliest and most vocal critics of the plan. He described its methodology this way:

First, the agency selected eight categories of “critical information” such as the “environment” and “economic opportunities,” that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their “news philosophy” and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.

The FCC also wants to wade into office politics. One question for reporters is: “Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers that was rejected by management?” Follow-up questions ask for specifics about how editorial discretion is exercised, as well as the reasoning behind the decisions.

The FCC caved today, releasing a statement that tried to control the damage by minimizing the eventual scope of the project and admitting that the study, in its present form at least, reaches too far:

By law, the FCC must report to Congress every three years on the barriers that may prevent  entrepreneurs and small business from competing in the media marketplace, and pursue policies to eliminate those barriers. To fulfill that obligation in a meaningful way, the FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities consulted with academic researchers in 2012 and selected a contractor to design a study which would inform the FCC’s report to Congress. Last summer, the proposed study was put out for public comment and one pilot to test the study design in a single marketplace – Columbia, S.C. – was planned.

However, in the course of FCC review and public comment, concerns were raised that some of the questions may not have been appropriate. Chairman Wheeler agreed that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required. Last week, Chairman Wheeler informed lawmakers that that Commission has no intention of regulating political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters and would be modifying the draft study. Yesterday, the Chairman directed that those questions be removed entirely.

To be clear, media owners and journalists will no longer be asked to participate in the Columbia, S.C. pilot study. The pilot will not be undertaken until a new study design is final. Any subsequent market studies conducted by the FCC, if determined necessary, will not seek participation from or include questions for media owners, news directors or reporters.

Any suggestion that the FCC intends to regulate the speech of news media or plans to put monitors in America’s newsrooms is false. The FCC looks forward to fulfilling its obligation to Congress to report on barriers to entry into the communications marketplace, and is currently revising its proposed study to achieve that goal.

Holder Feeling Heat From House Democrats Over Furtive Use Of FBI National Security Letters For Domestic Spying

A pair of House Democrats is adding a bipartisan flavor to months of GOP-led protestations over the way President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice circumvents the spirit of Constitutional protections against warrantless searches and seizures.

Congressmen Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and David Cicilline (R.I.), both Democrats, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder this week demanding the DOJ explain its rationale for relying on the FBI’s secret National Security Letters, which allow Federal law enforcement to compel banks and Internet providers to give up private customer information — without their knowledge or consent.

National Security Letters are among the Patriot Act’s many freedom-choking legacies. The DOJ welcomes the FBI’s interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act to include the FBI’s use of National Security Letters to collect wire-based data, as the two Congressmen point out, on a “case-by-case basis.”

Here’s the full text of the letter:

Dear Attorney General:

Over the past several months, the media has focused on Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.  Section 215 permits the government to obtain “any tangible thing” if there are “reasonable grounds to believe” the information sought is “relevant” to an investigation “to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

Under this authority, the National Security Agency collects records on virtually every phone call made in the United States.  We understand that the Federal Bureau of Investigation may also use Section 215 to collect telephone records on a case-by-case basis.  Section 215, of course, requires the government to obtain the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before it may demand these records from a communications service provider.

On February 4, 2014, at a full committee hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, we questioned Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole about a different investigative tool—National Security Letters, or “NSLs.”

NSLs permit the FBI to obtain, among other things, telephone records, email subscriber information, and financial transaction records that are “relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”2 NSLs are issued by senior FBI officials.  No judicial finding is necessary.

The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies noted that “foreign intelligence investigations are especially likely to implicate highly sensitive and personal information and to have potentially severe consequences for the individuals under investigation.”3 The Review Group was “unable to identify a principled reason why NSLs should be issued by FBI officials when section 215 orders . . . must be issued by the FISC,”4 and therefore recommended that “all statutes authorizing the use of National Security Letters should be amended to require the use of the same oversight, minimization, retention, and dissemination standards that currently govern the use of section 215 orders.”

As we consider reforms to the government’s surveillance capabilities, it would be helpful to understand more about the interplay between Section 215 and NSLs.  To that end, we ask the following questions:

  • Presumably, anything that the government can obtain through an NSL it can also obtain through a Section 215 order from the FISA court.  Given the overlap with Section 215, why are NSLs necessary?
  • In what instances would the FBI choose to use an NSL instead of Section 215?  In what instances would the FBI choose to use Section 215 instead of an NSL?
  • In 2009, the Department of Justice reported that the FBI had made 21 applications for business records to the FISA court.  In 2010, the number of requests jumped to 205.  In a 2011 letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, FBI Director Robert Mueller explained that “over the last two years, the FBI has increasingly had to rely on business records orders to obtain electronic communications transactions records that historically were obtained with NSLs.”6 Why did the FBI shift from NSLs to Section 215? Does it still rely on Section 215 for these purposes?  Does the FBI’s dependence on one authority or the other shift over time?

Although the government periodically reports certain aggregate numbers to the House Judiciary Committee, we require a side-by-side comparison of (1) the FBI’s use of NSLs, (2) the FBI’s use of Section 215, and (3) the NSA’s use of Section 215, which often generates leads for the FBI.

We therefore request that you provide, for all fiscal years from 2006 to the latest available reporting period, the following information:

  • The number of NSLs issued by the FBI, the statutory authority for each such NSL, and the number of U.S. persons targeted by such NSLs;
  • The number of times that the FBI has requested a Section 215 order from the FISA court, the number of such orders modified and granted, and the number of U.S. persons targeted by such orders;
  • The number of “RAS-approved” selectors used by the NSA to query telephone metadata; the number of searches conducted with those selectors; and the number of times these queries generated a tip to the FBI.

We ask that you provide this information as soon possible, but no later than March 7, 2014.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please contact John Doty from Congressman Nadler’s Office at 202.225.5635 or William Walsh from Congressman Cicilline’s Office at 202.225.4911.

Sincerely,

Jerrold Nadler   Member of Congress

David Cicilline     Member of Congress

Even the NSA must go through at least a pantomime of the judicial process, via the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), to obtain legal authorization to spy on everyone. But, as The Hill’s Julian Hattem notes, the FBI can rely on National Security Letters without any judicial review whatsoever.

While it’s obvious that this election season has plenty of Democratic Congressmen pretending to act like outraged Republicans in order to save their seats, Nadler and Cicilline have at least — perhaps unwittingly — made a bipartisan matter out of something the Obama Administration has preferred, so far, to treat as a fringe issue that draws complaint only from “right-wing” Constitutionalists.

New Hampshire Legislator Moves To End Pass-Throughs Of Federal Military Equipment To Local Police

New Hampshire State Representative J.R. Hoell witnessed citizens’ outrage at one local police department’s refusal to listen when Concord residents petitioned against the department’s decision to buy a Lenco BearCat armored personnel carrier with $258,000 of Homeland Security grant money.

Concerned that their police force, like many others throughout the country, was coming to resemble a military outfit more than a civilian-funded, protect-and-serve crime-prevention and response unit, 1,500 Concord residents signed a petition last year opposing the department’s purchase of such a vehicle.

Here’s how Lenco describes the vehicle:

The BearCat, our best selling truck, may be used as a S.W.A.T. or Military Counter Attack and Rescue Vehicle and is often used in hostile Urban Environments or as a Patrol/Reaction Vehicle on a Military Base. The BearCat, with its standard NIJ IV armor and 4WD system, can carry up to 10 people through varying terrain. The BearCat has been embraced by several DoD and DoE Security Forces and, because of its affordability, low maintenance expenses, ease of use and superior armor level, is increasingly the replacement vehicle of choice for up-armored Humvees. It may also be equipped with our optional Mechanical Rotating Turret with Cupola (Tub) and Weapon Ready Mounting System, suitable for the M60, 240B and Mark 19 weapons system.

Sounds Beirut-ready.

At an August city council meeting, hundreds of people showed up to oppose the pending purchase; about 50 of them got to speak at a public hearing that night to voice their concern over the police-on-steroids message that buying such a vehicle would send.

The department committed to the BearCat anyway, on the strength of an 11-4 council vote a month after the hearing.

Police Chief John Duval tried to paint opposition to the purchase in extremist colors, arguing that libertarian radicals from the Sovereign Citizens, Free State Project and Occupy New Hampshire pose “active and present challenges” to the Concord police department.

But the controversial move didn’t just upset a few alleged nut cases; it became the central bickering point for an active city council election later in the fall, when five of the seven contested council seats were challenged by a total of eight newcomers who framed the race as a referendum on what kind of police department the city should maintain. Here’s a local resident’s blog post about how that turned out. (Hint: Three of the incumbents who voted in favor of the purchase aren’t on the council anymore.)

After watching Concord residents’ concerns go unheeded, Hoell, a Republican with a libertarian streak, introduced a bill in the current legislative session that aims to end municipal acquisitions of military equipment — not only via Federal grants, but also through the Department of Defense Excess program, which essentially gives police departments cast-off military equipment for free.

Under Hoell’s bill, the Police Equipment and Community Engagement (PEACE) Act, no State or municipal agency would be permitted to buy or acquire any “military style equipment” for a police force unless the purchase is first approved by affected citizens at a public meeting.

“I introduced the bill because the citizens of Concord were overwhelmingly opposed to their police department having MRAP vehicles and it was ordered anyway,” Hoell told Dave Lindorff of investigative nonprofit WhoWhatWhy:

I don’t see any reason for police to have armored vehicles, or even fully automatic weapons.

…The role of the state is to make sure the citizens have the best law enforcement and not one that’s overly militarized. Whatever happened to police wearing blue? Now they are dressed in black, head to toe, and when they go to serve warrants at people’s homes, they break the door down, and they wear masks.

…I don’t know, maybe it’s a military thing. But it’s not community policing.”

The bill is currently before a Legislative committee. Here’s hoping this idea spreads beyond the Granite State.

UPDATE: Texas May Investigate Alleged Voter Registration Overreach By Battleground Texas

Well, that didn’t take long. We told you this morning about the Project Veritas video that documents a Battleground Texas representative who gleefully appears to be breaking Texas election law by admitting that she and other Wendy Davis activists retain contact information for voters whom they’ve registered.

Today, an elections administrator for Bexar County (population 1.7 million) told a local television station she had filed a report on the allegations with the Texas Secretary of State’s office. The same administrator also said the woman depicted in the video, had submitted 861 voter registrations in Bexar County.

If the Secretary’s office deems the allegations fit for an investigation, it can forward the case to the Texas Attorney General’s office, which holds investigative authority, according to Breitbart Texas.

Battleground Texas responded to the allegations by keeping things general, saying their voter registration activities are patriotic and that their field agents had broken no laws.

 

Biden: Puttering Obamacare Off To A ‘Hell Of A Start’; NSA Wants More; DHS Scraps License Plate Database; GOP Plans Anti-Reg ‘Blitz’; McCain Would ‘Love’ To Be In Charge Of Armed Services Committee – Thursday Morning News Roundup 2-20-2014

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

  • Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that it would be a good start for the Federal health care law if 5 million to 6 million people sign up by the end of March, an acknowledgement that enrollments might fall significantly short of the Obama Administration’s unofficial goal of 7 million. Biden acknowledged that “we may not get to 7 million, but if we get to 5 or 6 million that’s a hell of a start.” Source: NBC News… 

 

  • The government is considering enlarging the National Security Agency’s controversial collection of Americans’ phone records — an unintended consequence of lawsuits seeking to stop the surveillance program, according to officials. Source: The Wall Street Journal… 

 

  • Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license-plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative. Source: The Washington Post… 

 

  • House Republicans next week will pass a legislative package aimed at making Federal regulations more transparent and less costly to the economy. The legislation is the GOP’s latest attempt to reduce the regulatory red tape that they say is stifling job creation. Source: The Hill…

 

  • Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday night said if Republicans win control of the Senate this year, he would want to be chairman of the Armed Services Committee. McCain was asked in an interview on Phoenix radio station KFYI’s “The Mike Broomhead Show” how he would envision a GOP takeover.  “I would be so happy to be chairman of the Armed Services Committee,” he said. Source: The Hill…

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

White House Economists Push Obama’s Minimum Wage Hike By Urging Employers To ‘Accept’ Lower Profits

President Barack Obama’s White House has put its own spin on Tuesday’s report from the Congressional Budget Office — a report that anticipates another 500,000 lost American jobs if the President manages to get the Federal minimum wage increased to $10.10 per hour.

As you might have guessed, it’s a pretty socialist spin.

On their official whitehouse.gov blog, economists Jason Furman and Betsey Stevenson squinted to find a few silver linings in the CBO report, concluding that the CBO didn’t take into account all the variables mentioned in several cherry-picked academic studies Furman and Stevenson cherry-picked themselves to spin their case.

Furman chalked most of his and Stevenson’s disputing of the CBO’s job-loss findings up to “respectful disagreement among economists.”

But it’s the last paragraph in the blog that reveals the Administration’s socialism. Furman and Stevenson actually advocate for systemic wealth redistribution by suggesting that employers “accept” lower profit margins.

Here’s the offending passage:

Overall the logic for the finding that raising the minimum wage does not result in large adverse impacts on employment is that paying workers a better wage can improve productivity and thereby reduce unit labor costs. These adjustments, along with others that firms can make, help explain why the increase in the minimum wage need not lead to a reduction in employment. Higher wages lead to lower turnover, reducing the amount employers must spend recruiting and training new employees. Paying workers more can also improve motivation, morale, focus, and health, all of which can make workers more productive. In addition, by reducing absenteeism, higher wages can increase the productivity of coworkers who depend on each other or work in teams. In addition, businesses can adjust in other ways rather than reducing employment (for example, by accepting lower profit margins). CBO’s estimates do not appear to fully reflect the increased emphasis on all of these factors from the recent economics literature.

The CBO report itself said an increase in the minimum wage would benefit the people who received the increase, so that’s a non-issue. The report’s finding that 900,000 people would be raised out of poverty with a $10.10 minimum wage is dubious, because the impoverished class of Americans under Barack Obama’s perverse extension of “poverty” into the middle class shows no signs of stopping its expansion.

The problem with that language is that it’s misleading: Employers “accept” lower profit margins when they shape benefits packages that buffer the full cost of health insurance from their group-insured employees. But they don’t have any choice but to “accept” lower profit margins that are written into Federal law; we’re already witnessing that with Obamacare. In fact, we’ve been witnessing the minimum wage as a creeping socialist tool since it first took root in 1938 (the Supreme Court had declared the minimum wage unConstitutional only three years earlier, before upholding it as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act.)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro illustrated a socialist notion of “acceptance” earlier this month when he gave domestic businesses a weekend-long amnesty to comply with his “Fair Prices Act” — a sliver of that Nation’s wealth-redistribution scheme that differs only from the current American minimum wage battle in its advanced-stage desperation. “I have called for self-regulation of products and prices,” he announced. “I’ll give businesses until Monday to comply. Come Monday, if I find companies violating the Law of Fair Prices, I’ll take more radical measures.”

Breaking The Rules To Turn Texas Blue

Project Veritas, the conservative nonprofit founded by controversial one-man media army James O’Keefe, has had its troubles over the years. But O’Keefe’s latest video seems to suggest that the Democratic “Battleground Texas” political action committee is stretching the law in order to track and influence the new voters its field representatives are signing up.

At the :50 mark, Battleground Texas field organizer Jennifer Longoria describes what she and other activists do with the personal information they take down whenever they persuade someone to register to vote. If the video can be believed, it’s against Texas voting laws.

Longoria: So every time we register somebody to vote, we keep their name, number…

Investigator: And that’s from the voter registration form?

Longoria: Right from the form. That data collection is the key.

Key to what? Staying in touch with the people they’ve registered in order to promote the gubernatorial campaign of State Senator Wendy Davis, as the video makes clear.

Texas law prohibits the “registrar” — that is, the person registering another as a voter — from keeping that information for any use other than the maintenance of voting lists within the Secretary of State’s office. It’s illegal to “transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a telephone number furnished on a registration application,” under the State’s election code.

Here’s the relevant part:

Sec. 13.004.  RECORDING AND DISCLOSURE OF CERTAIN INFORMATION BY REGISTRAR.  (a)  The registrar may not transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a telephone number furnished on a registration application.

(b)  The registrar may transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a social security number furnished on a registration application only in maintaining the accuracy of the registration records.

(c)  The following information furnished on a registration application is confidential and does not constitute public information for purposes of Chapter 552, Government Code:

(1)  a social security number;

(2)  a Texas driver’s license number;

(3)  a number of a personal identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety;

(4)  an indication that an applicant is interested in working as an election judge; or

(5)  the residence address of the applicant, if the applicant is a federal judge or state judge, as defined by Section 13.0021, or the spouse of a federal judge or state judge, and included an affidavit with the registration application under Section 13.0021 or the registrar has received an affidavit submitted under Section 15.0215.

(c-1)  The registrar shall ensure that the information listed in Subsection (c) is excluded from disclosure.

(d)  The voter registrar or other county official who has access to the information furnished on a registration application may not post the following information on a website:

(1)  a telephone number;

(2)  a social security number;

(3)  a driver’s license number or a number of a personal identification card;

(4)  a date of birth; or

(5)  the residence address of a voter who is a federal judge or state judge, as defined by Section 13.0021, or the spouse of a federal judge or state judge, if the voter included an affidavit with the application under Section 13.0021 or the registrar has received an affidavit submitted under Section 15.0215.

FCC Not Done With Net Neutrality Fight

It looks as though the Federal Communications Commission is ready to dive back into the net neutrality debate. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced Wednesday the agency is ready to move forward with plans to overhaul rules that govern the way Internet service providers handle online traffic.

Wheeler’s announcement comes on the heels of a D.C. appeals court ruling last month that overturned the agency’s standing net neutrality rules because, according to the panel, they were too ambitious.

That decision stated the FCC treated Internet service providers in much the same fashion as older telephone companies, which operate under heavy government oversight. The FCC has said it will not appeal the ruling, opting instead to revisit its current open-Internet guidelines – including a new approach to rules that prevent Internet companies from blocking or otherwise limiting online access.

Wheeler said the agency will also will seek to increase the level of transparency surrounding providers’ management of network traffic – though some critics argue that enforcing the “transparency” provisions will prove difficult, since providers negotiate agreements that, so far, have never been opened to government scrutiny.

Videos: Obamacare Is Now A Mainstream Joke

In the early going, Obamacare has proven such a manifest failure that it has, at last, become one of the few (out of many) Obama-Administration missteps to make it into mainstream cultural consciousness as a complete joke.

Here’s a segment from a Fox News affiliate in Florida that creatively uses a highlight reel of Obama stammers and goofs to illustrate just how difficult it is for regular people to understand the labyrinthine Affordable Care Act, with all of the President’s post-launch fiat legislative changes and qualifiers. It aired on the local news (note how Dubya-like Obama sounds at the :48 marker when he finally spits out “not a Breathalyzer.”)

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has had his fun with Obamacare in the past, too. But he drove home the message that Obamacare is little more than a punchline when he asked the studio audience Tuesday whether anyone had actually signed up. Not a single person had:

Apparently, Everything Having To Do With Barack Obama Is Racist

Accusing somebody of evil intent, out of the blue, is a pretty good sign that you’re guilty of the very thing you’re accusing. The Barack Obama Administration is a prime example of that.

It’s pulled every trick in the playbook of cultural suggestiveness to set racial disparity back 40 years, by making sure there’s a subtle subtext of race underlying every political topic: income inequality, voting rights, gun control.

McGill University student Brian Farnan isn’t black. (And he goes to school in Canada.) So Farnan can only lament that the President will never weigh in on the student’s minor predicament by saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Brian Farnan.”

Farnan is the vice president of Internal Affairs (whatever that means) at McGill, a position he earned by winning a student election. In one of his weekly listserv messages to students, he attempted to alleviate a little of the collective academic pressure by inserting an animated .gif (a pretty funny one) of an Obama stooge kicking in a door as he walks away from the Presidential podium. Farnan sent the image under the innocuous subject line of “Honestly midterms get out of here.” The .gif itself had first appeared on “The Tonight Show,” and it found longevity on the viral Internet.

Obama-kick-open-door-gif

Somebody got offended. And as the offended typically are wont to do, that somebody aired his grievance to college higher-ups. According to Legal Insurrection, the .gif image of a frustrated President kicking in a door “got him [Farnan] in trouble with the thought police, who filed a complaint against him with SSMU’s [Student Society of McGill] Equity Committee, which enforces an expansive Equity Policy banning a broad range of supposedly ‘oppressive’ conduct.”

They’re not kidding. Check out McGill Daily’s dutifully progressive rundown of each elected student officer’s job performance: inclusiveness, sustainability and rape culture. Yikes.

Farnan didn’t need to apologize; in fact, it bothered some that he felt the need to do so. Fellow McGill student Ameya Pendse spoke out in a letter to campus magazine The Bull & Bear — not so much in defense of Farnan’s harmless joke as in criticism of a campus culture that would allow a radical minority to hold common sense for a ransom at her school:

Some people at McGill are a tad sensitive, so let me apologize in advance for my offensive statements. But it’s okay because we are all oppressed together, right? We’re slowly coming to grips with fact that we are all racist, sexist, patriarchs, and so on. If I learned anything at McGill, it’s that a vocal minority has deemed us all to be both oppressed as well as oppressors. The radical social culture which we, the silent majority, despise has dominated both SSMU and our campus politics for years. Brian Farnan’s latest email is no exception. We have come to a point where the radicals at McGill have hijacked campus politics, pushing their agenda on their Macs and smartphones.

…Today, I ask Brian Farnan to send out another apology because his last email titled “Weekly Listserv: Apology” offended me. I am offended that he thought I would naturally associate the visual of President Obama kicking down a door with the racist stereotype of a coloured person being angry. If anything, he should apologize for promoting racism and its living legacies by pointing it out. I can say with certainty that most in the McGill community did not make this association until we read the email. Isn’t it racist that GIFs of people being angry should only be of white men? One can argue that this is implied.

The whole piece is a great and entertaining indictment of the progressive inclination to control people’s hearts and minds.

Anyway, three months after filing the complaint, the unnamed student got what he wanted: an apology from Farnan for his own insensitive microagression. (Yes, he really said “microaggression.”) As people with thicker skin know, an apology for infringing on the left’s inscrutable sense of equality signifies a deeper victory: compliance. It’s the scarlet letter someone who’s gotten out of line wears to signify to the rest of the world that, at the end of the day, standing up for yourself in the face of vindictive race-baiting just isn’t worth it. Progressives win.

“The image in question was an extension of the cultural, historical and living legacy surrounding people of color — particularly young men — being portrayed as violent in contemporary culture and media,” wrote Farnan. “By using this particular image of President Obama, I unknowingly perpetuated this living legacy and subsequently allowed a medium of SSMU’s communication to become the site of a microaggression; for this, I am deeply sorry.”

Thank God for people like Ted Nugent, eh?

Cruz Digs In As Conservative Roots Deepen In The Heart Of Texas

No State offers a total panacea to shelter conservatives from the damage wrought by far-left progressivism, but Texas’ numerous success stories during the Obama years have been a particularly sharp thorn in the side of the Administration of President Barack Obama.

The State’s conservative leadership — both in Austin and in Washington, D.C. — has, on balance, produced far more for its citizens than it’s consumed from the President’s go-to prescription of Federal largesse. And because Texas is such a large, diverse and populous State, the demonstrable fact that conservatism can, and does, work on a massive scale has frustrated the Obama Administration at every turn.

Obama has even tried to co-opt Texas’ strong economy by perverting the State’s success to illustrate the benefits of progressivism. Last May, Obama chose Austin as the backdrop for a never-well-described (and largely forgotten) economic PR stunt, one at which he attempted to hit the reset button on domestic economic policy. Governor Rick Perry’s office nailed the strange dissonance, telling National Review that “Texas’ success didn’t happen by accident — it’s a result of policies put in place under Governor Perry’s leadership with a laser focus on making Texas a beacon of economic freedom.”

Nearly a year later, as Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) recently pointed out, the President’s attitude toward the Nation’s biggest State-level economic success story isn’t puppies and kittens.

“The Texas story of jobs, growth, and opportunity should be a model to celebrate, yet, there’s a new movement afoot to stomp out our enterprising spirit,” Cruz wrote in a Sunday column celebrating the launch of Breitbart Texas:

Today, political operatives are swarming the Lone Star State to turn Texas into a liberal swamp. At the same time, the Obama Administration is trying to make Texas buckle under a torrent of federal rules and regulations.

My office recently issued a report about the Obama Administration’s assault on Texas. It documents numerous cases where Texas defended itself from unjust federal interference.

Obamacare’s unconstitutional, unfunded mandate to expand Medicaid in our state has gained some attention. But that’s just one part of the larger campaign against Texas.

Since Barack Obama has been president, the Department of Justice tried to dictate how Texas can run its elections. The Department of Interior imposed an unlawful moratorium on offshore drilling. Regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency tried to impose costly greenhouse gas emission rules. And, the Department of Education illegally withheld $830 million from Texas in education funding. Those are just a few cases.

Thanks to Attorney General Greg Abbott’s leadership, Texas has been winning in court. These victories didn’t come easy, though. Complex legal defenses require a significant amount of time, resources, and effort. And, more challenges are underway.

Remington Sends Cuomo A Message With Alabama Announcement

Gun maker Remington announced a plan to invest $110 million in a manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Ala., today — a clear signal to the ruling class in its home State of New York that it’s setting down roots in a political climate that values the 2nd Amendment.

At the start of its lengthy, 24-State search for a new facility, Remington made it clear that its growing base of operations won’t affect its New York employees. But the company also made it clear that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s enthusiastic embrace of knee-jerk gun control legislation signaled a need for firearms companies to begin looking out for the future.

A union official representing Remington employees admitted as much, telling The Post-Standard over the weekend the gun-grabbing political atmosphere in New York “can’t be good” for the company’s future there — even though it’s been a fixture in New York since 1816.

“No question, it helps that we believe in the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms,” said Alabama legislator Mo Brooks. “It also helps that we don’t believe in class-warfare and envy, rather, we believe in applauding success that is hard-earned, as Remington’s has been.”

Many of the new facility’s 2,000 jobs are expected to pay between $40,000 and $50,000 (not counting benefits), according to Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

With Age Comes Wisdom: Rocker Punks California For Texas, Because ‘An Armed Society Is A Polite Society’

The brash Exene Cervenka, who used to front legendary punk band X, is selling her stuff and packing out of Orange County, Calif. — her home for more than three decades — to settle down in Austin, Texas. Why? She’s sick of California’s oppressive regulations and laws.

Cervenka told Rolling Stone last week she’s saddened by what California’s become since she first moved there in the 1970s:

Explaining her potential move to Texas, Cervenka says, “I have tons of close friends in Austin, I love the music, I always have a magical time there.” She continues, “The other reason I’m moving, if the creek don’t rise, is that when I moved to California in 1976, Jerry Brown was governor. It was barefoot hippie girls, Hell’s Angels on the Sunset Strip, East L.A. lowriders, the ocean and nature. It was this fabulous incredible place about freedom. Now when I think about California, I think of a liberal oppressive police state and regulations and taxes and fees. I’d rather go someplace and have my own little place out on the edge of town. I’m a country girl at heart. It makes me happy when I see people in Texas open-carrying. It makes me feel safe. I’m not even a gun owner, but I’d like to see a gun rack in every pickup truck, like my boyfriend had when I was fifteen years old in Florida. An armed society is a polite society.”

She cracks a smile. “Now Jerry Brown’s governor again. He’s done some great things, like balancing the budget and libraries are open on Sundays. But things are getting to the point in this country where people are going to have to fight to survive and fight for their rights.”

What is it with American punk icons aging gracefully into common-sense libertarians? Last year, former Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig made news by calling out Obamacrats as “fascists disguised as liberals, or liberal moderates:

You’re not allowed to say anything that they don’t agree with. You’re not allowed to do anything. Also, the whole Obama, ‘I can kill anybody with a drone with no trial,’ is kind of disturbing. I’m surprised that more people who are supposedly liberal aren’t more disturbed by it. I think whatever Obama does is OK with them, because he’s Obama. It’s bullsh*t.

Late last year, David Thomas, singer for the maturing band Pere Ubu, told a pop culture magazine “I think the government has no business in the arts at all” and that an open, unregulated and unsubsidized marketplace provides the only environment in which the arts can remain healthy and free.

Among avant-rockers who’ve spoken eloquently against government infringement, Frank Zappa is among the pioneers. In 1985, Zappa told the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee – lathered into a censorship frenzy by then-Senator Al Gore’s wife, Tipper – that a proposal to stick warning labels on musical recordings “is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years dealing with the interpretation and enforcement problems inherent in the proposal’s design.”

Better still, his anti-censorship testimony was corroborated by John Denver.

As an aside: he’s certainly no punk, but Bob Dylan’s insolent refusal to accept Rolling Stone’s presumptuous invitation to bow down before Barack Obama in 2012 ranks among his finest non-musical moments.

Update: This article has been updated to remove “Canadian art-rock” from the description of Pere Ubu.

Koch Brothers Way Down The List Of Top Political Donors – A List Dominated By Democrats

Ah, the Koch brothers. Wicked Tea Party illuminati visionaries hell bent on buying their way to a changed, conservative world. Rich oil scions who wield their money as a chainsaw, cutting a path of propagandist influence through the center of the Nation’s heartland. Omniscient power players unfurling a grand agenda for a sinister new world order through carefully-controlled media makeovers and behind-the-scenes candidate puppetry. David and Charles, the 59th-biggest donors to political causes in the whole United States.

Wait, what?

Yeah, 59th. According to OpenSecrets.org, the two wealthy Kansans are nowhere near the top of the list of the Nation’s most active and profligate campaign donors for Federal elections – though it’s a favored pastime of progressivist media to vilify their world-shaping ambition, which supposedly is carried out via unfairly exorbitant buyouts of political influence.

In the color-coded legend that accompanies OpenSecrets’ list of top, politically-tilted all-time donors, little blue donkeys dominate the top 50. Little red elephants are rare. Koch Industries, at No. 59, donated almost $18.1 million to political causes, with 90 percent of the money going to Republicans. They get the red elephants.

But no red elephants grace the top 16 all-time donors on the list. Twelve of them get donkeys, and four get little fence icons, which indicate donors that give relatively equal money to candidates from both parties.

While we’re talking about colors, let’s mention ActBlue. The 10 year-old political action committee has, since 2004, climbed to no. 1 on OpenSecrets’ donor list. ActBlue has donated $97,192,340 in its short lifespan, with at least 99 percent of that amount going to Democratic candidates and causes.

What other donors round out the top 10? Unions. Here’s a well-phrased breakdown, from The Washington Times:

So who occupies the 58 spots ahead of the Evil Koch Bros? Six of the top 10 are … wait for it … unions. They gave more than $278 million, with most of it going to Democrats.

These are familiar names: AFSCME ($60.6 million), NEA ($53.5 million), IBEW ($44.4 million), UAW ($41.6 million), Carpenters & Joiners ($39.2 million) and SEIU ($38.3 million).

In other words, the six biggest union donors in American politics gave 15 times more to mostly Democrats than the Evil Koch Bros.

Poor Koch brothers. Wealthy as they are, they’re still on the outside of the National political machine, looking in – and hated, even so, for daring to fly so high.

Bittersweet Victory For Concealed Carry In California

An attempt by San Diego County to pick and choose which of its residents are allowed to hold a concealed carry permit was refuted Thursday by an appeals court, which ruled that the county’s take on a Statewide “good cause” rule infringed on citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit invalidated several California counties’ concealed carry restrictions with Thursday’s 2-1 ruling, which San Diego can still appeal. The court found San Diego infringes on residents’ Constitutional rights by requiring they demonstrate a superabundance of “good cause” – typically in the form of documented proof that their personal safety has been threatened – before they can be issued a concealed carry permit.

As the Contra Costa Times explained, the ruling “means that one day all law-abiding Californians with the right training and a desire for self-defense could have the right to carry concealed handguns.”

State gun laws – among the Nation’s most restrictive – already requires applicants to show “good cause,” but San Diego’s interpretation of that term was challenged by several residents, along with the California Rifle and Pistol Association:

The county’s policy requires “a set of circumstances that distinguish the applicant from the mainstream and causes him or her to be placed in harm’s way.” But concern for “one’s personal safety alone is not considered good cause,” San Diego’s policy says. Applicants have had to provide documentation — such as restraining orders, letters from law enforcement or prosecutors — to prove a special need for self-protection.

A federal district judge had ruled that’s OK in order to protect public safety, but the 9th Circuit reversed that ruling Thursday, finding the county’s policy “impermissibly infringes on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense.”

That last sentence stings: “Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense.” Nowhere is self defense enumerated in the Bill of Rights as a qualifier to the right to bear arms. Courts in progressive political climates continue to refine the intent of the 2nd Amendment to death with ephemeral commentary like this, muddying the clear language of the Constitution itself in the minds of people who’ve never bothered to read it.

But for Californians, there’s no question Thursday’s ruling amounts to a fundamental win. They just need several dozen more.