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.

Fix Joe Biden’s Photo Tweet: What Women Need On Valentine’s Day

We haven’t done one of these in a while, but when Vice President Joe Biden hands you lemons, well…it’s time to have some fun.

Biden’s official Vice Presidential Twitter account sent out this inane photo today of smilin’ Joe, standing next to a picture of himself and holding up a heart-shaped admonishment to American women to buy “Quality Health Care” – which, we can only assume, he erroneously has confused with Obamacare.

Here’s the tweeted photo.

Joe Biden On Valentine's Day

 

Now, here’s a blank canvas for you to play on. What should Joe have suggested women need on Valentine’s Day?

Joe Biden With Blank Valentine Card

Keep it (relatively) clean if you want to see your revision on the site. Other than that, have at it. Send your altered images to newstips@personalliberty.com with the subject line “Valentine Joe.”

Please indicate whether you would rather remain anonymous, be credited by name, or provide us with a nickname for the photo credit in your email submission. If we get enough quality submissions, we’ll feature our favorites in a post next week.

Oh, and happy Valentine’s Day. If that’s your thing.

Alabama Democrat Not A Fan Of ‘Uncle Tom’ Clarence Thomas’ Interracial Marriage

Alabama State representative Alvin Holmes, a black Democrat whose loose-cannon pontifications have been a thorn in the side of the State’s flagging Democratic Party for years, topped himself Tuesday.

The Honorable gentleman from Montgomery reacted to something Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had said, earlier in the day, about history’s faulty perception of Southern racial inequality by getting on the floor of the Legislature — during a discussion of a bill about land surveying — and going off on Thomas for harboring the disagreeable audacity to be married to a white woman.

Thankfully, local reporters from The Decatur Daily and The Anniston Star were there to tweet Holmes’ pot-stirring comments in real time:

Holmes followed that up by later explaining to The Anniston Star that Justice Thomas is an “Uncle Tom.”

As one Twitter user pointed out, Holmes has been saying this kind of stuff about Clarence Thomas for years.

What had Holmes go all in Tuesday with his full house of race cards?

These words, which Justice Thomas had shared with students at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida:

My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up. Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person.

Thomas apparently slighted Holmes by speaking plainly about how successful progressive culture, of which Holmes is very much a part, has been in fanning the dying embers of yesterday’s racial jealousies back into an inferno today.

Even Casual Interest In Browsing Obamacare Plans Is Waning

According to figures updated Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Obamacare has now managed to “enroll” 3.3 million people via online health exchanges established under the law.

But, as has been the case since the Affordable Care Act went into effect last October, that number doesn’t reflect the amount of paying customers — just the total number of people who went fantasy shopping. It reflects shopping carts, not checkouts.

According to HHS, 1.15 million people went Obamacare shopping in January, compared with 1.8 million who browsed a health exchange in December of 2013. That’s a drop-off of more than 600,000.

Because HHS continues to refuse divulging the number of people who’ve actually signed on the dotted line (actually, the department spuriously claims it doesn’t know the number), the new statistics are as meaningless as the old ones.

But one thing the numbers do tell us is that people are losing interest in even taking the first steps toward enrolling in plans that are typically overpriced, undervalued, exposed to fraud and — thanks to unreliable websites and shifting information from an incompetent deployment staff — unpredictable in their promise of coverage or rate stability.

The Obama Administration had projected 7 million paid enrollees by March 31, the nationwide enrollment deadline for Obamacare’s inaugural year. At this rate, the President and HHS will be lucky if it exceeds half of that.

Don’t forget: A substantial portion of HHS’ numbers reflect people who signed up for free insurance under Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid rule. That’s great for them (and HHS is certainly eager to count them), but they add not 1 cent to the pool of money that’s supposed to subsidize the entire program. They’re “taking” customers, not paying ones.

Expect talk of massive government bailouts for insurers… once the Congressional midterm elections have passed.

Watch Obama The Candidate Condemn Obama The President: ‘I Take The Constitution Very Seriously’

The permanence of the Internet is a great thing. Every now and then, someone will revive, for present-day scrutiny, some sanctimonious declaration or other made by an elected official who never should have been elected.

The one that’s going around this week features Presidential candidate Barack Obama, circa 2008, taking the wood to President George W. Bush, as well as President Barack Obama (circa 2014), for unConstitutionally extending the reach of the executive branch into lawmaking territory.

What would candidate Barack Obama have said about his 2014 doppelganger’s threat to use “a pen” and “a phone” to legislate a progressive agenda that Congress – the Nation’s proper lawmaking body – has eschewed?

Bill Before Arizona Senate Would Force U.S. To Get Local Sheriffs’ Permission To Enforce Federal Law

A bill before the Arizona State Senate would make it a crime for Federal officers to attempt to enforce Federal law in the State without first receiving written permission from the County sheriff where the action is to occur.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Senate Bill 1290 would require a Federal agent to obtain a county sheriff’s consent before arresting or searching anyone who’s the target of a Federal investigation or apprehension attempt in Arizona. The bill provides exceptions for crimes that are witnessed while in progress, for agents who are State-certified peace officers and for U.S. Customs and the Border Patrol.

Sponsored by Republican State Senator Judy Burges, the bill is intended to ensure elected sheriffs are able, under the law, to protect their constituents if the Federal government attempts an operation that “supersedes” the authority of the sheriff.

Richard Mack, former sheriff of Graham County in the State’s rural southeastern quadrant, argued persuasively for the bill before a Senate panel, according to the Daily Star.

“[W]e allow bureaucrats from Washington, D.C., to come in and supersede his [the sheriff’s] authority, and to do whatever they want in his county, and they can say nothing about it? …We’re asking that the federal government do something they should already be doing: verifying their work and what they’re doing with the sheriff as a check and balance so that atrocities committed in the 1990s especially by the federal government at Ruby Ridge and Waco and other places …This will be normal activity and will continue if we don’t have somebody locally telling the federal government, ‘You can’t do that,’” he said.

Guess Who’s Paying For Obamacare Attack Ads? Democrats

How do you take on “Tea Party billionaires” (aka the Koch brothers) who think “attack ads can cover the truth?”

You buy a vulnerable Democratic incumbent an ad that covers the truth right back.

The House Majority PAC — a Democrat-aligned political action committee determined to help the Party retake a majority in the House of Representatives this year (ha!) — is banking on a wave of voter backlash over Obamacare in the midterm Congressional elections. So it’s buying up ads for Democratic incumbents that portray them as frustrated everymen fighting against President Barack Obama to reach a solution.

Transcribed:

Tea Party billionaires think attack ads can cover the truth. Joe Garcia is working to fix Obamacare. He voted to let you keep your existing health plan and took the White House to task for the disastrous health care website. And Joe Garcia fought to hold the insurance companies accountable so they can’t deny coverage for preexisting conditions, or drop coverage when you get sick. Attack ads can’t change the truth. Joe Garcia is doing what’s right for Florida.

What attack ad has House Majority PAC so indignant over the “disastrous health care website?” It must be this one, funded by the Koch-affiliated LIBRE Initiative:

Pretty respectable for an “attack” ad. Christie says Garcia supports Obamacare and asks why; that’s about it.

So does he? Well, he did. He kind of does, still. He’s mad at Obama like a Republican, but he wants to fix the Affordable Care Act like a Democrat. It’s interesting that no Democrat is running on a pro-Obamacare platform this year — despite Nancy Pelosi’s delusional promises. Rather, most are trying, like Garcia, to change the message.

Credit Garcia for seeing this day coming earlier than most of his Democratic colleagues.

Garcia came to Congress in 2013 as the first elected representative of the newly created 26th District, and he  is already fighting to hang on for a second term. He validated his enthusiasm for Obamacare almost immediately after being sworn into office by joining Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the rest of Florida’s Democratic delegation for a guilt-trip letter to Republican Governor Rick Scott, whom they accused of abandoning his “expressed support of Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act.”

That was February of last year — one month into his first term. By summertime, Garcia had wet his finger and put it to the wind — and he had begun to feel a breeze. In July, he was ready to side with the House GOP in a vote to delay Obamacare’s individual mandate. In November, he again sided with House Republicans in a vote to allow people to keep buying the insurance plans Obama falsely promised people they could keep.

No doubt Garcia was building an Obamacare track record in anticipation of the day he’d have to run TV ads to protect his incumbency.

At least he can take comfort in the fact that Democratic PACs aren’t having any qualms, this year, about shelling out money for TV ads that attack Obamacare.

Obama Administration’s ‘Transparent’ Government Drops U.S. To 46th Place On World Press Freedom Index

The United States, under the Obama Administration, has fallen to 46th place on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index for 2014 – behind such transparency-friendly countries as Latvia, Slovenia and Romania. The U.S. came in 32nd last year.

Reporters Without Borders cites three developments in 2013 as reasons for the precipitous drop: the Administration’s handling of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, the NSA activities Snowden’s leaks revealed and the government’s aggression toward media outlets and reporters covering topics that portray it unfavorably.

From the synopsis:

Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it. Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result.

This has been the case in the United States (46th), which fell 13 places, one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks. The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest.

US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of a CIA leak. It served as a reminder of the urgent need for a “shield law” to protect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources at the federal level. The revival of the legislative process is little consolation for James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information. And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government.

Just before the Snowden debacle began to unfold last year, Obama reiterated his first-term campaign boast that he would bring unprecedented transparency to the White House. “This is the most transparent administration in history,” he said during a Google Hangout session. “I can document that this is the case. Every visitor that comes into the White House is now part of the public record. Every law we pass and every rule we implement we put online for everyone to see.”

He went on to add that stalling the efforts of investigative journalists to discover his Administration’s timeline handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack “is not a good example.”

Senate GOP Analysis: Obamacare Will Shrink Income

The Senate Budget Committee’s financial prognostications on how Obamacare will affect the economy at least have been more realistic than those of President Barack Obama and his dwindling coterie of partisan supporters. If you trust the Republican contingent on the committee, the Affordable Care Act is on track to sink wages.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Committee, followed up the Congressional Budget Office’s damning report on Obamacare last week by releasing an analysis of how the law will affect real earnings over the next 10 years. Of course it isn’t pretty.

obamacare compensation graphic

According to the committee’s GOP wing, Obamacare is not only hurting actual hours worked; it’s also hurting the amount of money those who are working will bring home. Overall, Sessions anticipates the law will reduce earned compensation by more than $1 trillion between 2017 (when Obamacare’s supposed to be in full force) and 2024.

“CBO’s February 2014 baseline contains projections for total worker compensation under current law; i.e., with the President’s health law in place,” report Committee Republicans. “Senate Budget Committee Republican staff took these nominal dollar estimates and adjusted them to account for the 1 percent reduction that CBO attributes to the health care law, in order to determine what total compensation would have been if the law had not been enacted. The difference between the status quo and the status quo ante amounts to $1.016 trillion in reduced compensation over the 2017–2024 period.”

Holder To States: Give Felons The Vote

Attorney General Eric Holder, who evidently plans to step down sometime this year, said Tuesday that all States should extend voting rights to felons, ending restrictions he believes are nothing but vestiges of Reconstruction-era racial discrimination against black Americans.

If that happens, it would help round out one of Holder’s stated goals: turning the country’s criminal justice efforts away from punishment and toward social reintegration during his tenure as President Barack Obama’s top law enforcement official.

“[A]lthough well over a century has passed since post-Reconstruction states used these measures to strip African Americans of their most fundamental rights, the impact of felony disenfranchisement on modern communities of color remains both disproportionate and unacceptable,” Holder told an audience at Georgetown University.

“These restrictions are not only unnecessary and unjust — they are also counterproductive. By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, the laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes.”

Indeed, the existence of laws does increase the likelihood that criminals of any color will commit crimes. That’s what criminals do; they break laws.

But Holder believes States that revoke voting rights for felons aren’t doing so out of any concern for the rule of law. Rather, he believes they’re simply trying to ensure ex-cons, the majority of whom are black, stay disenfranchised.

“The history of felony disenfranchisement dates to a time when these policies were employed not to improve public safety, but purely as punitive measures intended to stigmatize, shame and shut out a person who had been found guilty of a crime,” he said. “… It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values.”

Perhaps it’s time for a national conversation about what the criminal justice system does to quell the promise of realizing the American dream for people who’ve been found guilty of committing a crime.

But even if that were the case, why would anyone listen to a man whose task is to dispassionately enforce the law of the land and not to advocate for or against the laws he’s supposed to enforce?

And more importantly, why would anyone find it sensible to reason with a man who insists on playing the race card nearly every time he opens his mouth to talk about any social issue?

Race Trumps Woman Beating For Leader Of Massachusetts NAACP

After Massachusetts State representative Carlos Henriquez was convicted last month for beating up a woman who wouldn’t have sex with him, there was some speculation that the State Legislature would allow him to continue his lawmaking duties from behind bars.

Henriquez was jailed on a six-month sentence last week for two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery on Katherine Gonzalves in 2012. He was also charged with another count of assault and battery, witness intimidation and one count of larceny under $250, but was not convicted.

The Massachusetts House voted 146-5 to expel Henriquez from the Legislature Monday, making him the first elected representative to be ejected from the House in 98 years.

But Henriquez, who is black, can be assured of stalwart support from the race-baiting lobby, which can look past all manner of despicable behavior as long as it’s perpetrated by someone its leaders can use.

Juan Cofield, president of the New England Area Chapter of the NAACP, asked House members to abstain from the vote that sent Henriquez packing, then defended Henriquez afterward on talk radio.

“[He] was convicted of two misdemeanors — not felonies — misdemeanors, and there is no standard in the House for expulsion based on misdemeanor convictions,” Cofield said. “Almost every one of us . . . commits a misdemeanor. Jaywalking is a misdemeanor. Would you have a state representative legislator expelled from the House for jaywalking?”

No. But thankfully, 146 Massachusetts representatives saw the difference between beating up a woman who doesn’t want to sleep with scum and crossing the wrong part of the street. Or at least they were smart enough to realize what their constituents would have thought if they had voted to let him continue making State law.

Fight Back Against NSA Surveillance With EFF Today (And Every Other Day)

We told you last month about the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) publicity effort to get Americans to fight back against the National Security Agency’s worthless, dangerous mass surveillance program. Well, today’s the day that all culminates over at the EFF.

According to tech site The Verge, the EFF’s goal today is to generate enough visible protest against warrantless surveillance to help defeat legislation that further entrenches the unConstitutional practice, and to help support reform legislation that at least reins in what the NSA is allowed to do with the data it collects.

From The Verge:

Inside the US, participants are urged to put a banner on their website and call or email their legislators in support of Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) USA Freedom Act, which would reform the NSA’s metadata database. But they’re also urged to oppose Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) FISA Improvements Act, a bill that sounds just as pleasant but has been sharply criticized for enshrining the database program in law. And even these are just baby steps in the long run.

Online activism has its limits, but it has shown results in the recent past. A massive grass-roots online campaign helped stall the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2012 — although, as The Verge notes, “[t]he goal of the 2012 blackout was simple: spur people to call their representatives and express opposition to a new bill. The Day We Fight Back, though, is an attempt to dismantle a system that’s been in place for years.”

At the very least, there’s strength in numbers. The EFF’s “Fight Back” effort currently has 255,000 Faceboook likes. If you’re on Facebook, you can add to that total simply by going to their web page and “liking” it. You can also retweet or share on Google+, if that’s your thing.

Of course the NSA will be watching — but that’s precisely why it’s so important to “Fight Back” not just today, but every day until Congress enacts meaningful legislation to abandon this ineffective, wasteful and damaging infringement on all Americans’ Constitutional rights.

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.