National Guard Trained To Fight 2nd Amendment ‘Terrorists’

Early last year, an Ohio television station filed a brief report covering a mock National Guard drill in the town of Portsmouth. For its context, the training exercise envisioned a terror attack staged by “[t]wo school employees who are disgruntled over the government’s interpretation of the Second Amendment.”

After repeated, unsuccessful requests to see the training documents, a media watchdog finally issued a report of its own on Monday, outlining the logic behind staging a terror drill involving people who aren’t actually mobilizing to terrorize anyone.

The scenario for the Ohio National Guard’s 52nd Civil Support Team training, conducted in January 2013, imagined an incident at a junior high school where, after discovering a dead body (gunshot wounds) and numerous people sickened by ricin and mustard gas poisoning, guardsmen stumble upon a classroom where they discover this:

On the chalk board as well as the tables there were several statements about protecting Gun Rights and Second Amendment rights. Additionally a phone number was written on the chalk board with the label William “the boss” Pierce (USPER), 304-539-6221 Area code for Charleston, WV.

At the time of the training exercise, Portsmouth police chief Bill Raisin boosted the drill, telling WSAZ-TV such scenarios represent “the reality of the world we live in. Don’t forget there is such a thing as domestic terrorism. This helps us all be prepared.”

On Monday, journalism watchdog Media Trackers released its report on the training documents it had obtained, following up with local leaders who were none too happy to be questioned about the drill scenario. From the Media Trackers report:

Scioto County [Ohio] Emergency Management Agency director Kim Carver refused to comment, telling Media Trackers she was “not going to get into an Ohio Army National Guard issue that you have with them.”

Ohio National Guard Communications Director James Sims II suggested Media Trackers was “inferring” from the ONG document’s contents as opposed to “what’s actually in the report.”

After excerpts of the report were read to him, Sims said it was “not relevant” to understand why conservatives may feel unduly targeted by ONG’s training scenario.

“Okay, I’m gonna stop ya there. I’m going to quit this conversation,” Sims concluded. “You have a good day.”

Does that exchange put Media Trackers on some kind of watch list? Hopefully not, because the same report goes on to quote Chad Baus, spokesman for the very active Buckeye Firearms Association, who criticized the government for approaching domestic terrorism from a point of view that regards citizens who know their Constitutional rights as likely terrorists.

“[I]t is a scary day indeed when law enforcement are being trained that Second Amendment advocates are the enemy,” said Baus.

Gun Control Advocate Arrested For Carrying .38 Pistol At Buffalo Elementary School

An ardent supporter of New York’s SAFE Act gun control law was arrested late last week after allegedly violating one of the sacred tenets of gun control: Never let a person with a gun come anywhere near a school campus.

Dwayne Ferguson of Buffalo, N.Y., known locally as Buffalo chapter head of MAD DADS (Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder) and a vocal supporter of even stricter gun control laws than those found in the State’s 2013 SAFE Act, was arrested Thursday and charged with second degree criminal possession of a weapon, carrying a loaded firearm on school property and obstruction of governmental administration, according to WIVB-TV  in Buffalo.

Ferguson allegedly brought his own loaded .38-caliber handgun into the school, where he teaches an after-school program through a community-based provider affiliated with the school district. He is not a district employee. He has a permit for the weapon.

The gun’s alleged presence prompted an anonymous 911 call around 4:15 p.m., locking down Harvey Austin Elementary School and about 60 students who were attended after-school programs. A K-9 and SWAT sweep lasted for three hours before students were released to their parents.

From WIVB:

More than a dozen cop cars, the SWAT team, K9 units and the Erie County Sheriff’s Air One helicopter swarmed Harvey Austin Elementary School in Buffalo on Thursday after reports of a man with a gun near the school or on the grounds. Dwayne Ferguson, head of the Buffalo chapter of MAD DADS, was taken into custody. He will be arraigned Friday.

An anonymous call came into 911 around 4:15 p.m. that a man with a gun was seen inside the Sycamore Street school. The building was placed in lockdown and around 60 students who were in the building for after school programs were herded into the cafeteria as officers from every district in the city went room-to-room in twos and threes looking for a possible gunman. A portion of Sycamore Street and Walden Avenue were closed and parents were kept from the scene until a preliminary sweep of the school was complete.

In the preliminary sweep, no gunman was found, and school buses arrived at the school around 5:30 p.m. to take the children to School 91. But it took until at least 7 p.m. before the students began to arrive to be released to their parents.

A school spokeswoman says Ferguson is known to the district and was working for an after school provider. Ferguson is the head of the Buffalo chapter and sits on the National Board of Directors of MAD DADS, an organization that aims to “promote and demonstrate positive images of fathers engaging in community development and protecting youth and families.”

At a rally for the SAFE Act in March of 2013, Ferguson had told the same television station he felt the new gun control laws weren’t strict enough.

Ferguson, who has no criminal record, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday. The presiding judge ordered him to surrender his weapons and stay away from the campus until his case had been disposed. Although he said he was not aware of a long-standing State law making public schools “gun-free” zones, he apologized Friday to parents “for whatever they went through.”

SWAT Kicks Woman Out Of Home, Then Uses It As Tactical Vantage Point Without Warrant Or Permission

A Florida woman who was kicked out of her home last week so that a Jacksonville, Fla. SWAT team could gain a tactical advantage isn’t threatening legal action – she just wants an apology. So far, that’s too much to ask.

Jacksonville resident Deborah Franz told a local television station a SWAT unit from the sheriff’s office came to her door last Sunday demanding that she and the house’s occupants leave the premises, but that no one asked permission to use the inside of her home as a tactical vantage point to quell a fight at her neighbor’s house.

She found out that police had entered the home once she returned – six hours after she had been asked to leave.

“I stopped, I froze because I realized somebody had messed with my TV,” she told Jacksonville’s WTEV-TV. Franz said she noticed that her blinds had been opened and that electronics inside her home had been disconnected. In her bedroom, one of the curtains was lying in the floor.

So she called the sheriff’s office. The sheriff (presumably, though the story doesn’t make that clear) returned her call and told her, “Yeah Ms. Franz, my men did come in your house.” The next communication from the sheriff’s office came not to her, but to the television station, which received a press release that said something about reviewing the incident to refine the department’s use of best practices.

“We continuously review our tactics and operational procedures to ensure that the methods we use are both legally sound and in the best interest of the safety of our officers, the community, as well as any suspects, victims, or witnesses that may be present at any critical incident,” said the release, issued by JSO Director if Investigations and Homeland Security. “This case will get the same scrutiny to ensure that we used best practices and it will be assessed to ensure that we followed all legal and ethical guidelines.”

While the 3rd Amendment of the Bill of Rights says that no soldier can be quartered in a home, during peacetime, without the owner’s consent, (or in wartime either, “but in a manner to be prescribed by law”), it doesn’t mention anything about civilian law enforcement. Then again, civilian law enforcement in the early days of the Republic didn’t have departmental titles that included paramilitary appellations like “Homeland Security.”

It could also be that the SWAT team violated Franz’ 4th Amendment rights. A capable attorney shouldn’t have too difficult a time demonstrating that a warrantless commandeering of a citizen’s home constitutes an unreasonable seizure under the 4th Amendment.

Clean At Any Cost: Bloomberg Pushes To Shut Down Coal-Fired Power Plants

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is throwing his weight behind White House calls to end the U.S. coal economy by calling for an outright ban on coal-fired electrical power.

Bloomberg, interviewed by NPR in his new role as an envoy to the United Nations, said putting coal out of business is the single most effective way of cleaning up the planet.

“The biggest thing you can do in this country is to close coal-fired power plants. They generate a third of all of the emissions,” said Bloomberg. “And the Sierra Club has been very successful in preventing new coal-fired plants from opening. And thanks to their efforts and the lower cost price of natural gas, a lot of old power plants have been closed. And you can see it,” Bloomberg said. “And the Sierra Club has been very successful in preventing new coal-fired plants from opening. And thanks to their efforts and the lower cost price of natural gas, a lot of old power plants have been closed. And you can see it.”

In other words, availability of natural gas has reached the tipping point necessary to entirely obviate coal — which, depending on whom you ask, generates between 37 percent and 44 percent of all electrical power in the U.S. — as an inexpensive, abundant and accessible source for a Nation whose power grid was largely constructed to take advantage of native resources.

Coal remains our single biggest natural resource for the production of electrical power. Yet Bloomberg believes the U.S. can replace coal in one fell swoop without missing a beat — even though his idea of wholesale conversion involves retrofitting what’s already here, one structure at a time.

“[W]e’ve got buildings to convert from heavy fuel oil to natural gas so that cuts the pollutions [does he mean pollutants?] in the air. And this translates right now into your life expectancy,” he said.

Michelle Obama Recruits A New Wave Of Student Borrowers As College Debt Reaches New Highs

Look, lots of us foolish enough to get a college education availed ourselves of Federal student aid, whether in the form of grants, loans, work-study programs or some combination of the three. It’s a demonstrable fact of human nature that if low-hanging fruit is available (whether it’s helpful in reaching the higher branches or not), people will seize it.

But the easy availability of Federal student aid has opened a Pandora’s box of inflated college costs, administrative redundancies, diluted academic rigor, inverted institutional priorities and severely devalued diplomas that’s reached a historic zenith (or nadir, depending on your perspective) under President Barack Obama. Government-backed student borrowing has increased more than 450 percent since Obama began his first term, outpacing the (already accelerating) rate of borrowing during the George W. Bush Administration by more than 500 percent.

For the progressive White House, it’s not enough.

The Department of Education is putting First Lady Michelle Obama at the front of a new public relations campaign designed to make sure anyone and everyone who’s eligible (and that’s a lot of people, under the Obama Administration’s new virtual monopoly in the college lending market) will lap up every college entitlement available, leaving nothing on the table.

“Don’t leave money on the table,” (see there?) the first lady told a group of Virginia high school students at the campaign’s kickoff appearance last week. “Almost everyone is eligible for some form of financial aid, and all you have to do to access that aid is fill out this one little form. It’s so simple.”

The First Lady’s soft sell played up the value of a college degree, neglecting that a traditional college education is less valuable, whether as a vocational primer or gateway to understanding the role of the individual within the context of our rich Western tradition, than it’s ever been.

“With a good education, you can get a job that pays a decent salary or more,” she said. “You can provide for your family, which is key. And you can become whatever you dream of becoming, which is the kind of freedom that I want all of you to have.”

That “kind of freedom” comes at an unspoken price in the present financial aid free-for-all: indentured debt servitude, for both schools and students, to the Federal government – all for a product that may be losing its value almost as quickly as the dollars they owe.

Reporter: ‘How Much Does It Cost’ To Get An Obama Ambassadorship?’ State Department: That’s A ‘TV Question’

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki could only giggle and dissemble Friday when ABC News’ Jonathan Karl inquired about President Obama’s recent spate of ambassadorial nominees – all top Obama campaign bundlers – who’ve embarrassed themselves and the Nation by demonstrating they know less than nothing about the countries where they’re headed.

After Psaki attempted to wave off Karl’s original question – whether rudimentary knowledge of a host country is important when the Obama Administration considers a nominee to an ambassador’s post – Karl persisted: “[Most of these [nominees] gave hundreds of thousands of dollars or raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Obama campaign. How much does it cost to become an ambassador, to be named ambassador, in the Obama Administration?”

Here’s the relevant portion of their exchange (H/T The Washington Free Beacon for the transcript):

So I mean, as you know, there’s been some criticism that — of the specific qualifications of some of the recent nominees. I mean, George Tsunis didn’t seem to even know what type of government Norway has, called one of the members of the ruling coalition a fringe element. So I’m wondering does an — does an ambassador have to have at least some basic knowledge of the country that he is going to?

PSAKI: Well, I think ambassadors go to countries — obviously that’s the goal — but the ambassadors go to countries to represent the United States, to be a resource to people on the ground. We’ve seen those reports. We’ve all read them. But I would encourage people to give those who have had tougher hearings a chance to go to their countries and see what their tenure will entail. And the judgment can’t be made about how effective they’ll be or how appreciated they’ll be by the government until we have that happen.

KARL: So right now you have — the percentage is 37 percent, which is considerably more political appointees than George Bush had, considerably more than Bill Clinton had. And I’m going through the list. I mean, most of these gave hundreds of thousands of dollars or raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Obama campaign. How much does it cost to become an ambassador, to be named ambassador, in the Obama administration?

PSAKI: Jonathan Karl, always a TV question. We don’t determine –

KARL: Well, it’s serious because –

PSAKI: I’m not — I’m not — it is a serious question. We don’t name ambassadors from the State Department. The White House names ambassadors, so I would certainly point you to my old colleagues across the street for that. What I was conveying is that from the State Department point of view there have been many, many political ambassadors, people who have come from a range of histories and backgrounds, who have been very successful and worked very effectively in these roles.

How did she manage to say nothing in that many words?

Congressional Democrats To Blog About Climate Change On Progressive Social Media Sites

If you can’t win your legislative fight in Congress, then take it to the court of public opinion.

That’s the thinking behind a new push by Congressional Democrats to pressure their GOP counterparts toward a tipping point on taking legislative action to regulate climate change out of existence.

Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) told The Hill Thursday he and other Democratic members of the Safe Climate Caucus (there’s a “Safe Climate” caucus?) are planning to write weekly op-eds that will appear on The Huffington Post’s website, as well as publish a roster of YouTube videos that describe the perils of ignoring mankind’s contribution to global warming.

“We can’t see the agenda in the committees,” Waxman told The Hill. “The Republicans are doing nothing, but we will not be silenced… I think the American people, as they see one climate disaster following another, they are going to wake up and say to their representatives, ‘How can you deny this?’”

The idea, of course, is to turn the debate into a popularity contest by placing Congressmen in the realm of infotainment, where the general public is supposed to heed the climate change warnings of Washington politicians — a bunch loaded with street credibility, coolness and an inborn natural rapport with the American people.

Yeah, that should turn out great.

Waxman, who recently announced he will not run for re-election when his present term expires, offered an ambivalent message about how the government can tackle climate change until Democrats can tip the scale of public opinion far enough to incite a grass-roots call for action. He seemed to indicate Congress is properly the originator of any new laws that would address the “problem” — after all, his whole plan to start blogging was based on his frustration that Congressional Republicans won’t budge — but he took comfort in the arbitrary power of President Barack Obama’s pen.

“I think Congress will get to a point where we will start acting, but in the meantime, we have to rely on the President to do much of what we could do by law in ways I think may even be more conducive to reducing climate threats,” he said. “But in meantime, the President has authority to take a lot of actions on his own.”

Now That’s How You Beat A Photo-Radar Speeding Ticket

Virginia resident Nate Cox, an Army vet whose license plate reads “ENDW4R,” received a speeding ticket in the mail last May alleging he was behind the wheel when his Honda Civic was (allegedly) clocked by a photo-radar device exceeding the posted speed limit somewhere in Washington, D.C.

But unlike most people, who’ve become inured to the way municipalities con motorists by making it easier to pay a fine than dispute the charge, Cox, in his own words, “knew better.”

He didn’t hire a lawyer or concoct some elaborate scheme to outfox the system. Cox beat the ticket by simply standing up for himself as an American citizen whose Constitutional protections would be violated if he admitted guilt and paid the fine.

“I knew better [than] to just submit and pay a fine like the majority of people do in this country, unfortunately,” he wrote on the Virginia Cop Block blog. “I am in the habit of not taking ‘plea deals,’ and I am always in the habit of fighting my tickets and NOT pre-paying them so I don’t have to go to court — like many folks do.”

After receiving the ticket by mail, Cox responded with a letter of his own:

To Whom it May Concern,

I received a letter claiming I committed a violation of a speeding law in the District of Columbia on 04/21/2012. As per the instructions, I am writing to plead ‘not guilty’ to this charge. Although this option is said to result in this matter going to court; it is my suggestion that the charges simply be dropped. This suggestion comes out of respect for tax payers, and my request that their hard earned money not be wasted in such proceedings. As there is no evidence of my involvement with this alleged ‘crime’, as well as the fact that I am not granted my 6th amendment right to face my ‘accuser’ (a camera); I see no way the government could prove my guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I also see find no legal requirement for me to implicate someone else in this process, as it is the government’s responsibility to prove a person’s guilt. It is also my 5th amendment right to remain silent on the matter.

If it is the government’s decision to move forward in this matter, I would request copies of any evidence the prosecution may have of my involvement in the “offense”; as well as, all maintenance records for the camera(s) involved.

Sincerely,

Nathan Cox

United States Army Veteran

It worked. Then again, it should work every time a municipality goes citizen-pillaging by relying on a robot to enforce laws intended, primarily, to aggrandize the government — not protect people.

True to form for a government bureaucracy, the DMV acknowledged his response in a less-than-timely manner, informing him (by mail) several months later that “[b]ased on your statement and/or evidence or the government’s failure to meet its burden of proof, the ticket was dismissed by a hearing examiner.”

Cox uses his story to encourage Americans not to take illegal traffic enforcement lying down.

“PLEASE, NEVER EVER opt to pay these Photo Enforced Speeding AND Red Light tickets! You do NOT have to incriminate yourself OR implicate anyone else,” he wrote. “It’s the government’s responsibility to provide evidence that YOU were the person driving, don’t help them in their ‘investigation.’ ALWAYS go to court and fight your tickets, if there is NO VICTIM…there is NO CRIME!”

It would be interesting to see how the state would respond if everyone zapped by photo radar took his advice. We’re not sure the outcome would be liberating — even though it should.

Mayor And Former Member: Confiscation Is The Unspoken Goal Of Mayors Against Illegal Guns

John Tkazyik, the mayor of Poughkeepsie, New York, is a lifetime member of the NRA. For a time, he was also a willing member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns – the Michael Bloomberg-founded gun control group that lobbies for legislative action to limit 2nd Amendment rights Nationwide.

Tkazyik ended his relationship with MAIG after coming to a sobering realization: the group isn’t simply trying to keep guns out of the hands of known violent criminals; it’s trying to take them away from law-abiding citizens by relying on fear tactics.

In a Wednesday column in the Poughkeepsie Journal, Tkazyik explained how he came to that conclusion:

I’m the mayor of one of the largest cities in the Hudson Valley, just 90 minutes north of New York City. I’m a life member of the National Rifle Association and a former member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, or MAIG, started by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006.

I’m no longer a member of MAIG. Why? Just as Ronald Reagan said of the Democratic Party, it left me. And I’m not alone: Nearly 50 pro-Second Amendment mayors have left the organization. They left for the same reason I did. MAIG became a vehicle for Bloomberg to promote his personal gun-control agenda — violating the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and taking resources away from initiatives that could actually work to protect our neighborhoods and save precious lives.

…It did not take long to realize that MAIG’s agenda was much more than ridding felons of illegal guns; that under the guise of helping mayors facing a crime and drug epidemic, MAIG intended to promote confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens. I don’t believe, never have believed and never will believe that public safety is enhanced by encroaching on our right to bear arms, and I will not be a part of any organization that does.

Tkazyik also acknowledges, through the tone of his writing, that he understands a fundamental truth Bloomberg’s organization works against every time it illogically argues that a preponderance of firearms makes America less safe – an armed society is a civil society.

That’s an inconvenient truth indeed for a group that must sell a vision of chaos to a public it would seek to disarm.

Police State: Watch Iowa Cops Go SWAT On Family Home During Fruitless Warrant Raid

An Iowa family is confused and angry in the wake of a recent brush with America’s highly evolved military police, who executed a search warrant on their home by suiting up a dozen officers in tactical gear, battering down the door and generally treating everyone as though violence was an expected outcome. The police were looking for someone who had used a credit card to fraudulently buy stuff. They found nothing like that.

Thankfully, a surveillance video captured a significant portion of the raid. It doesn’t bear out the cops’ claim that they knocked on the door and gave homeowner Sally Prince adequate time to open it. It does show a cop destroying one closed-circuit security camera outside, and another attempting to cover up a camera inside the house.

Iowa’s WHO-TV reported on the shock raid Monday, including plenty of surveillance video that clearly illustrates the extent of the SWAT-style overkill.

“Sally Prince is afraid to stay in her Des Moines home,” reported the station’s Aaron Brilbeck. “She isn’t afraid of burglars breaking in — she’s afraid of the police.”

“I’ve been so traumatized. I don’t sleep at night,” Prince says.

On Thursday, Ankeny police executed a search warrant looking for someone they suspected of using stolen credit cards to buy clothes and electronics.

The whole search was caught on surveillance video.

Ankeny police tell us they knocked first, but the video shows one officer pounding on the side of the house and seconds later, officers use a battering ram to force their way in.

The video also shows an officer destroying a security camera outside the home.

Two people in the house were arrested on unrelated charges, and the family says none of the items listed on the warrant were [sic] found.

The raid, although conducted by police from the town of Ankeny, took place at a home inside the Des Moines police jurisdiction “because the alleged theft took place in Ankeny, but the suspects live in Des Moines.”

Ankeny police captain Makai Echer said the squad made a tactical decision to use force to gain entry because the department believed the occupants’ criminal records justified it. Here’s WHO-TV’s report on the occupants’ criminal past:

Monday, we reported one of the four people listed, Richard Forestier Adair, had no real criminal record.  But the name on the warrant is apparently wrong. Adair’s middle name is Foster and he does have a long criminal record but very few violent arrests. Adair has two assault convictions about 14 years ago and a domestic assault conviction in 2002.

A police spokeswoman also said officers believed there was a gun in the home.  The man [Justin Ross] who lives there, who does not have a criminal record, does have a weapons permit.

Ross, Prince’s son, was in the bathroom and was legally armed at the time. A cop kicked the door once; it didn’t open. He got it on the second try. The time between those two kicks may have made the difference between Ross living and dying, because he realized the situation as the cop was kicking away, and went from a defensive stance, with his weapon drawn, to a submissive one.

“I stood up; I drew my weapon; I started to get myself together to come out the door,” explained Ross. “I heard somebody out in the main room say ‘police’ — and I re-holstered my weapon, I sat back down and I put my hands in my lap.”

If he hadn’t quickly holstered his gun, said Ross, “I would’ve been standing there with my weapon drawn, pointed at the doorway, and they probably would’ve shot me.”

“This was over… property purchased with a stolen credit card,” said Prince. “It doesn’t make any sense that they would go to such extremes for something that simple.”

The search yielded nothing named in the search warrant. Two people living in the house, Miranda Scigliano and Richard Adair, were arrested on unrelated charges. Scigliano was taken in for probation violation; Adair for possession of drugs with intent to deliver.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger: ‘Our Enemies No Longer Fear Us, And Our Allies No Longer Trust Us’

The U.S. House of Representatives’ customary general speech sessions, which permit Congressmen to speak from the floor for five minutes on any topic of their choosing, can yield a lot of bloviating and hot air. But Congressman Adam Kinzinger’s (R-Ill.) floor speech Tuesday should be required listening for Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.S. diplomatic corps, who must walk the Mideast policy path laid down by President Barack Obama.

Kinzinger, an Iraq veteran, lamented the way in which recent American Presidential Administrations have devalued our Nations’ global credibility. And he and drew a line between President George H.W. Bush’s myopic understanding of Islamist terror and Obama’ present approach — which attempts to treat Islamist fundamentalism as a fly-in-the-ointment security problem, even as the President expands upon the fear-based domestic security apparatus he inherited from President George W. Bush.

“…[W]e have people who live solely for the purpose of killing and destroying people that don’t see eye to eye with their specific religious ideology,” said Kinzinger. “Failure to confront those terrorists in the 1990s led to the big problem we have today. And what we’ve seen lately is that same kind of retrenchment by the United States of America — undoubtedly, still the most powerful country in the world. Our enemies no longer fear us, and our allies no longer trust us.

Cats In A Sandbox: John McCain Throws A Syria Fit; Lindsey Graham Apologizes To Syrian Christians For His Behavior

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), so devoted to supporting “our” moderate “friends” (a.k.a. Islamist terrorists with al-Qaida ties) in the Free Syrian Army, became incensed during a meeting with Syrian Christian leaders visiting the Capitol recently, allegedly yelling angrily after the clergymen voiced their concern that Western leaders have turned a blind eye to Christian persecution at the hands of Syrian rebel groups.

According to a Judicial Watch report today, an unnamed, high-level source present at the meeting said McCain stalked into the Senate Arms Services Committee meeting room, where three Democratic Senators and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, along with the Syrians, were waiting for him to join them.

But McCain was already agitated from having to listen to the Syrians’ concerns about how American policies aren’t helping Christians caught in the middle of Syria’s civil conflict. Evidently, he raised such a stink that Senator Graham found himself in the unique position of having to apologize for his fellow neocon’s temper tantrum.

From Judicial Watch:

…Senator McCain, an Arizona Republican, evidently doesn’t want to hear negative stories about the rebels he’s working to arm. So he stormed out of a closed-door meeting with the Syrian clergy officials last week.

… McCain marched into the committee room yelling, according to a high-level source that attended the meeting, and quickly stormed out. “He was incredibly rude,” the source told Judicial Watch “because he didn’t think the Syrian church leaders should even be allowed in the room.” Following the shameful tantrum McCain reentered the room and sat briefly but refused to make eye contact with the participants, instead ignoring them by looking down at what appeared to be random papers.

The outburst was so embarrassing that Senator Graham, also an advocate of U.S. military intervention in Syria, apologized for McCain’s disturbing outburst. “Graham actually apologized to the group for McCain’s behavior,” according to the source, who sat through the entire meeting. “It was truly unbelievable.”

Now We Have Numbers: 59,000 NSA Spy Victims In Only Six Months

Now that U.S.-based technological service providers are legally free to disclose some information on how frequently the National Security Agency is demanding backdoor, secret access to private user accounts, we’re starting to gain some idea of the scope of the NSA’s domestic spying activities. And in the first half of 2013, the agency vacuumed up data on a small city’s worth of unwitting Americans.

Wired reported Monday that the NSA, through its near-omniscient PRISM program, had gained access to 59,000 user accounts through the first six months of 2013 — the most recent period that tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been allowed to disclose.

As Yahoo explains in its disclosure statement, that number exceeds the actual number of court-authorized “requests” (they’re compulsory; they’re not requests) the NSA makes because “an individual user may have multiple accounts that were specified in one or more requests, and if a request specified an account that does not exist, that nonexistent account would nevertheless be included in our count.”

However, that would imply that each of the government’s estimated 1,000 (at most) requests for Yahoo account access represented a user base in which each individual account holder, on average, had ownership of 30 (at least) separate Yahoo accounts — an unlikely scenario for each and every instance. Because the government still does not allow companies to disclose real numbers and constricts them to reporting ranges (in thousands) of numbers instead, Monday’s disclosures do not provide a reliable set of dots which, when connected, can verify the truthfulness of that explanation.

So what we’re left with is a general idea of how ambitious the NSA’s application of its domestic surveillance powers is. All of these “requests” originate from a court order — essentially a warrant — that allows only one party — the NSA — to know that spying is going on. Presumably, the majority of these account hits are aimed at American citizens, which any half-awake reader of the 4th Amendment would interpret as an unConstitutional severance of the government’s legal relationship with the people it’s supposed to support.

But that’s why the NSA and its legal and political support network (the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the Barack Obama Administration) have no intention of allowing the public to connect the dots with hard numbers. They don’t add up.

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.

‘Fixing’ Income Inequality Is A Fundamentally Communist Idea; Social Mobility Is An American One

Perceiving a disparity between the wealth of the wealthy and the poverty of the poor as a problem the government is rightly tasked with correcting is a fundamentally communist idea. A government that makes its entire living off a parasitic encroachment on the free market, rich and poor alike, can comment all it wants on the poignant distance between rich and poor, but it has no business doing anything that enriches the one by confiscating from the other.

Yet President Barack Obama has launched into a full-scale public relations campaign to get the Nation on board for a government-backed closing of the wealth gap — one that can be accomplished only by a wholesale redistribution of private wealth that makes our present quasi-socialist state seem like an anarchic black-market economy by comparison.

Why? Because government must expand if it is to persuade its lowest-common-denominator democratic constituency — subject to the fickle wind of uninformed voter opinion — that it is operating effectively. If you’re an elected official (and especially if you’re the President), enacting bad policy is better than enacting none at all — regardless of the policy’s relative benefit or your Constitutional role in the process. Action is more politically bankable than inaction.

Obama’s rhetorical punch line is that income inequality is the problem in need of solving. In this Nation, it’s not. The ossification of the classes — upper, middle, lower — is. Social mobility and, more importantly, the zeitgeist that views upward mobility with general optimism, must be robust. A recent report concludes that social mobility in the U.S. is about as likely as it’s ever been; but it’s still less likely than what the American dream, with its open-ended promise of self-fulfillment, has always proffered for ambitious hearts and minds.

Obama’s perception of the problem is misplaced. The subhead for an article that recently appeared on Reason’s website encapsulates this in a nutshell: “Why does the President insist on confusing income inequality with economic mobility?”

Turn to Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) for a clear explanation of where Obama’s talking points have gone astray.

In his “Tea Party” response to the President’s State of the Union address last week, Lee correctly identified the Nation’s economic problems as a function not of income inequality, but of lockout. A poor person with a plan and a work ethic typically wants to become less poor, maybe even rich. It’s a facile and intellectually dishonest mind that believes the lower class, on the whole, will be content with a “living wage.” People who can rise higher want to rise higher, and they will — if there’s a way.

“Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us,” said Lee last week, delineating three “forms” in which this problem currently affects the American class structure. “Immobility among the poor, who are being trapped in poverty by big-government programs; insecurity in the middle class, where families are struggling just to get by and can’t seem to get ahead; and cronyist privilege at the top, where political and economic insiders twist the immense power of the Federal government to profit at the expense of everyone else.

“But where does this new inequality come from?” Lee then asked rhetorically. “From government–every time it takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats, and special interests.”

Obama’s announced campaign to level the playing field by implementing policies that aim to narrow the wealth gap, if successful, will provide the textbook example of what Lee was talking about.

No Conspiracy Here: Sitting Supreme Court Justice Thinks U.S. Government Would Intern Americans Again

If you’re among those Americans who believe the government hasn’t evolved past the days when it resorted to rounding up entire categories of people and holding them captive for the sake of political expediency, you’re in good company. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia agrees.

Speaking Monday at the University of Hawaii, Scalia addressed the High Court’s 1944 ruling that upheld the government’s internment of Americans of Japanese descent during WWII. Asked about the case – Korematsu v. United States, which upheld the conviction of two would-be internment victims who didn’t report for their quarantine – Scalia didn’t mince words.

“Well, of course Korematsu was wrong. And I think we have repudiated it in a later case,” Scalia said, before saying this:

“But you are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again…That’s what happens. It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It’s no justification, but it is the reality.”

So much for the “Black Helicopter” crowd existing only outside of Washington, D.C.

Watch: Blue Collar Worker Confronts Obama Over Direct Harm Obamacare Did To His Job Status; Obama Changes The Subject

Reddit AMAs and Google hangouts are always tricky things for high-profile people who, unlike the Sofia Vergaras and Ted Nugents of the world, can’t (or won’t) simply open up and speak plainly about who they are and what they think – opinions be damned.

When you’re the President, equivocation in an unscripted setting can spell disaster. But when you’re President Obama, you can at least count on your most naked and humiliating public moments to go underreported.

On Friday, Obama fielded a comment from a fry cook named Darnell Summers during a Google hangout session. Summers, who earns minimum wage and said he’s attempted to get raises by going on strike, told the President that Obamacare’s employer mandate had forced his employer to cut hours and convert full-time employees to part-time status in order to dodge the crippling cost of insurance contributions for full-time workers under Obamacare.

“We were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance,” said Summers. “We can’t survive; it’s not livin’.”

Apparently, Obama only heard the part about minimum wage and going on strike.

“I am working to encourage States, governors, mayors, State legislators to raise their own minimum wage,” Obama said. “Obviously, the way to reach millions of people would be for Congress to pass a new Federal minimum wage law. So far, at least, we have not seen support from Republicans for such a move.”

The President said nothing about how his signature policy achievement has turned Darnell and his coworkers into part-time employees. After all, what could he say?

Are Congressional Democrats Finally Waking Up To Obama’s UnConstitutional Power Grab?

An interesting trend may be emerging among Senate Democrats in the twilight period between President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and the perilous midterm campaign season: some of them – even Obama’s staunchest supporters – may be ready to signal to the President (and to voters) that he’d better keep his hands off their Constitutional powers.

The reasons, so far, are hard to discern. Certainly some Democratic incumbents, as well as their safe-for-now peers, are eyeing the midterms as a potential date with the hangman when it comes to retaining a Senate majority. Obama’s policies aren’t exactly political winners in States where GOP candidates pose a credible challenge to their tenure in the capital, and Congressional Democrats have to be aware that taking a public stand against Obama’s executive overreach is a populist move that their partisan rivals will employ during the campaign season. Who’d want to be on defense for that?

Too, it’s remotely possible that some lawmakers are awakening to the idea that Obama’s virtual threats to legislate with his pen pose a real threat to their already-diminished role in balancing the Constitutionally-devised Separation of Powers. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) – infamous among defenders of the 2nd Amendment for co-sponsoring failed gun control legislation last year – tried to wish away Obama’s State of the Union pledge to act without Congress in a weekend interview.

“I don’t think that’s what he meant. I swear to God I don’t,” he said. “Could he have picked these words better? I would have thought he could have; I would have hoped he would have. But it came out offensive to a lot of people.”

More on point is outright criticism of the President’s mealy-mouthed leadership in reforming the immensely unpopular National Security Agency’s program of systematic and warrantless surveillance.

“I think the framers did an incredible job of finding the right balance, so, we’ve gotten away from that. And when we get back to that, my outspokenness [against the President] will diminish,” Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) told POLITICO.

Heinrich isn’t up for reelection anytime soon. But he’s carrying the populist water for embattled peers who are. The telltale signs appear in the Obama-bashing of Democrats like Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, who’s in a fight to hang on to her Senate seat after vocally supporting the President’s disastrous Affordable Care Act.

“This White House has been very – how shall I say – it’s not their strong suit to give anybody a heads-up on anything,” she said in the same article.

Whatever their motives, Congressional Democrats may be showing early signs that they’re coming to grips with an unusual (for them) situation – learning, like their GOP adversaries in recent years, how to play defense.

Majority Of Republicans Don’t Approve Of The GOP’s Immigration Scheme

A full 62 percent of Republicans are against the immigration reform plan being hatched by the Congressional GOP, further blurring the focus of just how far a bill will advance ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

According to market and policy research company YouGov, there’s a strong divergence between the opinions of street Republicans and their elected Congressional representatives over how – and whether – to handle immigration reform, especially in a volatile election-year political climate.

A YouGov poll released Friday found that 62 percent oppose granting U.S. citizenship to illegal aliens living in the country, while 57 percent oppose any law that would grant unmitigated legal status to those who’ve come to the U.S. illegally.

From YouGov:

One day after House Republican leadership unveiled their blueprint for immigration reform, a YouGov poll conducted before the announcement can reveal that self-identifying Republicans are at odds with their party’s leaders on this issue. The Republican blueprint, a one-page statement of “standards for immigration reform”, endorses measures that would grant legal status for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, but stops short of calling for a ‘pathway to citizenship’ like the one provided for in the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last June.

But most Republicans remain opposed to measures like the ones outlined by both Republican House leaders and the Senate bill. Specifically, 55% of Republicans would oppose granting ‘temporary legal status’ to illegal immigrants already in the United States who pass background checks, pay fines and have jobs.  57% of Republicans are opposed to making immigrants in the same circumstances ‘permanent legal U.S. residents’ and 62% are opposed to granting them U.S. citizenship.

The stars may be aligning for a strong, albeit politically motivated, populist blowback against GOP leaders bent on throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire ahead of this year’s Congressional elections. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Breitbart last Thursday that House Republicans are essentially killing the GOP’s opportunity to retake the majority in the Senate by advancing an amnesty-oriented reform bill in the first half of the year.

“They may or may not be right, but their argument is that we should focus exclusively on Obamacare and on jobs. In that context, why on earth would the House dive into immigration right now?” asked Cruz. “It makes no sense, unless you’re [Democratic Majority Leader] Harry Reid. Republicans are poised for an historic election this fall – a conservative tidal wave much like 2010. The biggest thing we could do to mess that up would be if the House passed an amnesty bill – or any bill perceived as an amnesty bill – that demoralized voters going into November.”

Then, over the weekend, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told television interviewers the future doesn’t look bright for a comprehensive immigration reform bill before the end of 2014. The tepid talk came just days after the party promulgated a nebulous “statement of principles” outlining an immigration reform blueprint that outraged its anti-amnesty conservative base.

Ted Cruz: Libertarians Should Be ‘Dismayed’ By Obama’s Selective Enforcement Of Drug Law

President Obama is cementing his legacy, in part, by infamously declining to enforce portions of the law while doubling down on other portions he’s passionate about. The best-reported example is, of course, his à-la-carte menu-picking of Obamacare’s many timed mandates, but there are others.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sat down with Reason TV last week in Houston to discuss his concern over Obama’s cavalier attitude toward his Constitutional role, noting in particular that even libertarians who believe an end to the “drug war” is long overdue have plenty of reason to be troubled by the way in which the Obama Administration is effecting the President’s vision of achieving that goal.

“The Obama Administration’s approach to drug policy is to simply announce that across the country, it is going to stop enforcing certain drug laws,” Cruz said.

“Now, that may or may not be a good policy, but I would suggest that should concern anyone – it should even concern libertarians who support that policy outcome – because the idea that the President simply says ‘criminal laws that are on the books; we’re going to ignore [them]’ – that is a very dangerous precedent.”

Residents Accuse Police Of Roadside Strip Searches In Georgia

Residents approached Atlanta media last week to complain about illegal roadside strip searches at the hands of multiple police departments in Georgia. A subsequent investigative report confirmed their allegations.

WSB-TV in Atlanta obtained dash-cam video of one traffic stop in which an officer turned his attention to one of the passengers after coming up empty on a consensual vehicle search for drugs.

Police in Forest Park, Ga., pulled over the wife — not named in the report — of Terry Phillips, who was riding as a passenger, on suspicion of driving with a suspended registration. But instead of conducting their business through the window, they ordered Phillips out of the car.

From WSB-TV:

“He was like, ‘Just unbuckle all your clothes,’ and put his hands down inside my pants,” said Terry Phillips.

Forest Park Police had pulled over Phillips’ wife for a suspended registration.

Phillips consented to a search, however on the officer’s dashboard camera recording Phillips can clearly be heard protesting when he realized the extent of the officer’s intentions.

“That’s illegal, man, you can’t do that. You can’t do that,” said Phillips to the officer. The officer continued.

“That’s a general strip-search, which you’re not allowed to do,” said Mark Bullman, Phillips’ attorney. “Unless it’s an emergency or it’s done in a controlled environment by professional people were other people aren’t there to look in a public setting. …You can’t be moving people’s clothing and opening them, particularly in situations where there’s not been a custodial arrest.”

Police must obtain a warrant to conduct a strip search, and those must be performed under controlled circumstances, after a suspect has been taken into custody, in order for any uncovered evidence to stand up to admissibility challenges during prosecution. This was just fishing — and it isn’t an isolated occurrence.

“Driver after driver told investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer officers searched inside their pants while they were stopped for minor traffic violations,” reports WSB-TV. “In several cases, the invasive searches targeted passengers who were riding in the car.”

Common Sense Missing From Minority Student Proposal At University Of Minnesota

Which is more helpful when police are asking the public’s help in looking for a suspect: a witness description identifying the perpetrator “as a tall black man with his hair in cornrows” or “a tall man with black hair?”

Easy, right?

But a consortium of minority student groups at the University of Minnesota, in a fit of confusing “racial” with “racist,” is putting heavy pressure on the school’s administrators to withhold from future campus crime alerts any description of a suspect’s race.

The groups — composed of members of the African American and African Studies department, the Black Faculty and Staff Association, the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, the Black Men’s Forum, the Black Student Union and the Huntley House for African American Males — sent a letter to UM President Eric Kaler in December calling on the university to stop including racial descriptions “at the expense of our Black men.”

CBS Minnesota reported last week the minority groups “unanimously agree” that:

…[C]ampus safety should be of the UMPD’s utmost importance; however, efforts to reduce crime should never be at the expense of our Black men, or any specific group of people likely to be targeted. In addition to causing Black men to feel unsafe and distrusted, racial profiling is proven to inflict negative psychological effects on its victims.

The letter didn’t address the distinction between racial profiling — which Personal Liberty Digest™ and numerous other websites have castigated as an unConstitutional discriminatory practice — and witness descriptions of suspected criminals whom police are trying to find for questioning.

What’s worse is that university officials appear to be at least somewhat receptive to the idea. Vice President of University Service Pamela Wheelock responded to the groups’ demands with a letter of her own that expressed concern “that members of your organizations and others in the University community believe there to be an increase in racial profiling.”

Wheelock did defend the standard practice of publicizing a suspect’s physical appearance as being consistent with police practices at other Big 10 universities.

Meanwhile, property crime on the UM campus is reportedly up more than 25 percent over previous years.