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.

Holder Can’t Answer Mike Lee’s Question: Where Does The President’s Authority To Act Unilaterally Come From?

Attorney General Eric Holder didn’t have a ready answer when questioned by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) Wednesday on the Constitutional basis for the President’s use of executive orders. That’s partly because he’s not up to date on all the lawyering that’s been done to justify modern Presidents’ ongoing reliance on executive orders, and partly because the authorization for executive orders to modify standing legislation is nowhere to be found in the Constitution.

Lee initiated this exchange Wednesday during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

LEE: I heard you mention a few minutes ago, in response to some of the questions asked by Senator Grassley, that it’s the President’s preference to work with Congress; that, wherever possible, he’d like to get Congress to agree with him to pass legislation that he would like. But, of course, the other side of that coin is something that the President referred to repeatedly last night in his State of the Union address, which is that, if he can’t get Congress to act, he’ll go it alone — if Congress won’t act the way he wants Congress to act, then he’ll issue an executive order anytime he gets the chance.

This brings to mind a concern that I’ve had as to whether or not sufficient analysis is being undertaken when these executive orders are issued.

As you know, the Supreme Court has… tended to separate out executive orders into three categories, you know: In category one, you have a situation where Congress [sic; Lee surely meant to say “the President”] acts pursuant to authorization by Congress, and that’s where his authority to act with an executive order is at its strongest.

Category two is where you have the President acting in the absence of either a Congressional authorization or a Congressional prohibition. Justice [Robert] Jackson [in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)] described this as sort of a “twilight zone” where it’s a little unclear; it’s a little murky.

Category three is where you have the President taking measures that are incompatible with Congressional command.

And so I would ask, number one — is this analysis undertaken each time the President issues an executive order? And, number two, was that kind of analysis undertaken when the President, for example, announced on July 2nd of 2013 that he would not be enforcing the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act throughout the duration of 2014? Even though, by law, the employer mandate was set to take effect as of January 1st, 2014.

HOLDER: … Those kinds of activities are done by the President after consultation with the Justice Department, and an analysis is done to make sure that the President is acting in an appropriate; in a Constitutional way. And those three categories that you talked about — that we all studied in law school — from Justice Jackson, are among the things that, obviously, are a part of the analysis: where the President’s authority is greatest, the “twilight zone,” and then where the President’s authority is weakest.

LEE: So, in which of those three categories would you put the President’s decision to delay the enforcement of the employer mandate? Is that category one, two or three?

HOLDER: I’ll be honest with you, I have not seen — I don’t remember looking at or having seen the analysis in some time, so I’m not sure where along the spectrum that would come —

LEE: How about the executive order that he proposed last night, with regard to minimum wage; would that be category one, category two or category three?

HOLDER: Again, without having delved into this with any great degree —

LEE: But you’re the Attorney General. I assume he consulted you?

HOLDER: Well, there have been consultations done with the Justice Department. From my perspective, I think that would put us in category one, given the Congressional involvement in the matter. The ability of the President to regulate things that involve the Executive Branch and how contracting is done seems to me that the President is probably at the height of his Constitutional power in that regard.

Lee knew Holder was trapped, because the Senator’s line of questioning was bound either to paint Holder as ignorant of precedent law (if Holder, in fact, had the nerve to call Obama’s flagrantly unilateral delay of the employer mandate a “category one” executive order) or as an outright liar (which Holder veered close to admitting, when he first declared that the President had worked closely with the DoJ before issuing recent executive orders — but then confessed it had been “some time” since he had reviewed the analysis established by the Supreme Court in Youngstown).

The Constitution says nothing about the President’s power to amend Congressional law or to act unilaterally to create legislation that Congress has declined to take up. Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 simply states, “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows…”

That’s followed up later in Article II (Section 3, Clause 5): “…he [the President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.”

Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson’s concurring opinion in the 1952 Youngstown case, in which he broke down the spirit of a President’s executive actions into the three categories Lee referenced, set a precedent for judicial interpretation of whether future Presidents’ executive actions could be litigated according to their adherence to, or divergence from, the intent of Congress in passing — or declining to pass — legislation.

As Enrollment Deadline Looms, Number Of Uninsured Who Hate Obamacare Skyrockets

The January iteration of a Kaiser Family Foundation monthly tracking poll finds fewer uninsured Americans hold a favorable opinion of Obamacare than at any time since the law went into effect. That’s because they’ve had four months to digest an unending parade of news reports that show the law playing havoc with the finances of people who’ve seen their standing insurance rates skyrocket under the Affordable Care Act.

The hits keep coming:

Little wonder, then, that fewer than one-fourth of uninsured American adults think Obamacare will help them. Here’s how Kaiser summarized the findings:

Among the uninsured – a key group for outreach under the law – unfavorable views now outnumber favorable views by roughly a 2-to-1 margin (47 percent versus 24 percent). This is a change from last month when 43 percent of the uninsured had an unfavorable view and 36 percent were favorable. More of those without coverage say the law has made the uninsured as a group worse off (39 percent) than better off (26 percent). Despite these views, large shares of the uninsured see health insurance as “very important” and say they need it, while four in ten say they’ve tried to get coverage in the past 6 months, and half expect to get it this year. … In December, views among the uninsured were more evenly split (36 percent favorable, 43 percent unfavorable).

What else are they going to say? It’s the law, and for anyone who files a tax return, enforcement through the IRS will be absolute. Of the half who said they plan to get health insurance this year, one wonders what percentage will end up qualifying for Medicaid. It’s the only way many currently uninsured people can “afford” it – even though mass Medicaid enrollments guarantee the entire system will collapse.

A Picture Is Worth $455 Billion: A Score Sheet For The State Of Barack Obama’s Union

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday lasted 65 minutes. The faucet was running the entire time. Here, courtesy of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is a visual representation of how much money poured out while Obama spoke.

by-the-numbers1

It’s stunning to realize that the Federal debt itself is growing nearly one-third as quickly as actual spending. What’s not stunning is the scant attention Obama paid to government spending — except when he was proposing more of it.

Also, is anyone surprised that that the majority of both parties in Congress continues to be complicit in this farce? The very next day after Obama’s address, the House approved a so-called “compromise” Farm Bill Wednesday on a 251-166 vote with the full support of the GOP Establishment. The much-argued “cut” to the historically gigantic food stamp program was virtually eliminated from the final bill, and there’s virtually no chance the Senate will prevent this monster from making its way to the President’s desk.

Joe Biden’s Heart Tells Him He’d ‘Make A Good President’

Vice President Joe Biden may or may not decide to run for President in 2016, but at least he thinks he’d make a good one. At least, that’s what his heart tells him.

Biden told NBC News today it’s simply a question of him making up his own mind about getting in the race. “In my heart, I’m confident that I could make a good president,” he said. “It’s a very different decision to decide whether or not to run for president.”

To which we can only say – listen to your heart and run, Joe, run.

BOOM

Constitution Absent From Barack Obama’s State Of The Union

President Barack Obama delivered a State of the Union address last night that reflected a parallel-universe vision of America very different from the one most of us inhabit in the present day. It’s almost as though he had this speech written five years ago, on the cusp of taking his first Oath of Office, and had to redact and revise swaths of visionary optimism to save face after the embattled 5th year he just completed. It was a vainglorious, self-indulgent victory lap in an empty, echoing stadium.

Some of his promises sounded very Republican, borrowed from conservative critics. At other times, he took credit for things that are either demonstrably unsuccessful or, where successful, can’t be attributed to a hand up from the government – and certainly not from his. The days to come will yield a wealth of commentary and criticism, but let’s knee-jerk over a few highlights from the President’s speech.

 

Yes, He’s Taking Action

But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do. … I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible. … My administration will keep working with the [natural gas] industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities [No mention of the Keystone pipeline]. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. … I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook. Citizenship demands a sense of common cause; participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve to our communities.

Obama must have seen the storm coming over his widely-anticipated promise to convert the Presidency to a monarchy. But it didn’t mute that promise; it only forced him to add a spoonful of sugar to the rhetoric. The President pledged to take executive action on domestic economic policy, environmental protection and – even in the wake of last year’s resounding Congressional defeat – gun control. Because, evidently, moral and cultural bankruptcy have nothing to do with mass murders – more unConstitutional laws do.

 

We Can Spend More Money To Save More Money

Of all the things Obama said Tuesday, his dogged negligence in reconciling a cavalcade of government-expanding ideas with returning our Nation to financial solvency on the global stage stands as the most perplexing – even if, by now, it ought to be a familiar Obama-Administration refrain. Here are some examples:

Last month, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, this Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education. Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way.  But the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.

Translation: The sequester’s over, the tap is turned on, and the Republicans didn’t get what they wanted. Someone in the future can worry about balancing out my Adminstration’s escalation of the Federal debt.

It’s not just oil [again, no mention of Keystone] and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too.  Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced.  Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.

Translation: Let’s kill coal, which we have in abundance and which supports an established domestic economy with a well-developed infrastructure, and throw more Federal money at disastrous, discredited pipe dreams like Solyndra. Petroleum is for fat cats, and it’s time they helped pay their fair share to put themselves out of business.

When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars.  In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

Translation: Small businesses, farmers and domestic industries need to bear the cost of a senseless tax on the very vehicles they rely on to produce a product. It’s the government’s job to vilify automakers by passing that financial burden on to the consumer. I am clueless that Ford – the only automaker the government didn’t bail out – didn’t need a government mandate to develop a new series of lightweight, fuel-efficient aluminum trucks in response to a need it saw in the marketplace.

I’m also convinced we can help Americans return to the workforce faster by reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy.  But first, this Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people.

Translation: Just what we need – another Obama-inspired insurance initiative to stand alongside the efficient, well received, seamless and cost-effective monument to nanny-state salvation that is Obamacare.

 

I Can Call Women Fools, And No One Will Notice Because Democrats Stand For Equality

Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year, let’s all come together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves.

Translation: No one in this room reads conservative news sources, so I can get away with patronizing women without fear that someone may call out my own White House for paying female staffers $9,000 a year less than the males. And all this rhetoric is really in the service of a larger goal: European-style socialism that converts the private sector into a clearinghouse for government-mandated, privately-funded corporate welfare.

 

Let Government Manage Your Money

Obama took pride in his forthcoming policy tweak, which will reset the Federal minimum wage for contracted workers at $10.10 per hour.

“And as a chief executive, I intend to lead by example: Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity and reduce turnover. We should too. In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” he said.

Never mind that Costco is a successful company that pays its employees well because of across-the-board sound business practices.

The Federal government is in no financial position to hike wages. Unlike the government, Costco didn’t shut down three months ago, restart itself through borrowed money and make company-wide pay raises its first priority.

Then there was this:

Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today, most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401ks. That’s why, tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans.

Well, that’s interesting. As long as we’re living in a land of fiat currency, this will either work great until, one day, it doesn’t – or it’s just ambitious pomp that isn’t intended to get off the ground. After all, George W. Bush had us going to Mars by 2030, if anyone remembers.

There’s also a possibility that this MyRA plan is the first baby step toward the government requiring people to buy into a mandatory, wealth-redistributing pension program with penalties for opt-outs. That sounds like another of Obama’s signature legacies.

It also sounds a lot like a long-range Social Security replacement program that solves nothing. And anyway, wouldn’t it be grandiose enough an ambition either to reform Social Security in the first place, or abolish it outright? Obama said little else, so it seems like early days for this one – let’s hope.

 

Enjoy The Silence

And, louder than any of his spoken words was the President’s roaring silence on what he’s done wrong – Obamacare’s fundamental unsustainability; a head-in-the-sand foreign policy; spending too much printed money while claiming a trimmed deficit; forcing the free market to behave like an overwrought government; using phony numbers to prop up economic optimism; and, above all, wilfully neglecting to countenance and rectify the many recent shameful scandals that lie squarely at his feet: IRS discrimination. The Department of Justice’s adversarial relationship with the American people and press.  His Administration’s simpering, self-serving ignorance of the terror attack on our consulate in Benghazi.

The list goes on – but what difference does it make?

*Sam Rolley contributed to this analysis.

Democratic Senators Side With Obama Administration In Hobby Lobby Birth Control Fight

Nineteen Democratic Senators filed an amicus brief siding with the Obama Administration Tuesday in a long-running court case which could determine whether the government has the power to enforce a controversial Obamacare provision over the religious objections of Christian business owners.

The family of David Green, who owns the Hobby Lobby retail chain, filed the lawsuit to block the Obama Administration from forcing the company to pay for its employees’ birth control under Obamacare. The family, citing religious convictions, maintains that the government cannot require companies to fund mandatory programs that company owners deem immoral according to their interpretation of Biblical moral precepts.

The Greens’ case had already won a victory in U.S. District Court last summer, when an Oklahoma City Judge issued a preliminary injunction exempting the company from having to follow the contraception mandate until after the lawsuit had run its course. The case has since moved to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Democratic Senators filed their Tuesday brief.

The Senators argue that Hobby Lobby as a company cannot avail itself of the same protections afforded to individuals by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The Act was passed to protect individuals and nonprofit organizations against government policies that infringe on their religious beliefs, but the Obama Administration argues the law does not apply to companies.

Late Tuesday, A group of 18 Republican Senators countered by filing an amicus brief of their own in support of Hobby Lobby. They argued that the Obamacare contraception mandate violates the 1st Amednment’s Free Exercise Clause, in addition to portions of the RFRA.

“The First Amendment guarantees every American the right to free exercise of religion,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of the lawmakers attached to the brief. “Yet, the Obama administration has chosen repeatedly to break the law by giving breaks to big business and Congress, while refusing to grant those same waivers to people with sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Hobby Lobby employs 13,000 people.

Dinesh D’Souza Gets Arrested In Obama Witch Hunt; Ted Cruz Defends Him On TV; CBS Edits It Out

Although it wasn’t widely reported in the mainstream press, you may have heard about about Dinesh D’souza’s recent troubles with the U.S. Department of Justice.

D’souza, the conservative commentator, writer and filmmaker responsible for the damning 2013 documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” was indicted last Thursday on Federal charges that he funneled money illegally to a Senate candidate — widely rumored to be 2012 Republican candidate Wendy Long of New York, although the court didn’t name her — in violation of campaign finance laws.

The U.S Attorney’s office accuses D’souza of circumventing election funding laws that capped individual contributions at $2,500 by reimbursing straw donors to the candidate’s unsuccessful Senate campaign. D’souza is accused of repaying donors a total of $20,000 in donations that were redistributed into the campaign at $2,500 a pop.

D’Souza pleaded “not guilty” on Friday and was released after meeting a $500,000 bail. Here’s a list of nine people accused of violent crimes who didn’t have to come up with that kind of bail money.

D’souza is a prolific critic of President Barack Obama. At the time of his indictment, he was in the midst of filming a follow-up documentary to “2016: Obama’s America” simply titled “America.” Now he’s been charged with a Federal crime: one he may or may not be guilty of. Even if he is guilty, the charade seems selective, contrived and politically motivated.

As with so many scandals close to the Obama Administration, the gun used to assassinate D’souza is warm but it isn’t smoking. The State Trooper may be letting speeders whiz by his parked cruiser all day long; but when the call comes in to follow the beige sedan, it’s not difficult to catch the driver speeding. And as long as you catch your mark breaking the law, who cares if other people are doing it?

D’souza likely won’t get the treatment Pierce O’Donnell received. In 2012, O’Donnell struck a plea deal for committing the exact same crime in 2004, on behalf of then-Presidential candidate John Edwards. O’Donnell ended up pleading guilty to two misdemeanors.

The Department of Justice claims it “caught” D’souza by sitting on the side of the road with a radar gun. D’souza, they allege, was the lone speeder:

The Indictment is the result of a routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the FEC by various candidates after the 2012 election for United States Senator in New York.

Rick Moran of the PJ Tatler finds that problematic:

How is it possible that a measly $20,000 in donations could leap out at investigators during a “routine review”? Most people charged with this crime front hundreds of thousands of dollars — and end up with far lesser charges. And are we to believe this “routine review” only snared Mr. D’Souza? If $20,000 in contributions leapt out at the FBI, are we to believe that D’Souza is the only contributor guilty of setting up straw donations? Where are the other lawbreakers?

On Sunday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and tried to connect D’souza’s indictment with the Obama Administration’s larger pattern of political persecution. Here’s how part of his exchange with host Bob Schieffer went:

Cruz: …Just this week it was broken that Dinesh D’Souza, who did a very big movie criticizing the President, is now being prosecuted by this Administration.”

Schieffer: “Senator– “

Cruz: “Can you image the reaction if the Bush Administration had went; gone — and prosecuted Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn?”

Schieffer: “Senator– “

Cruz: “It should trouble everyone the government uses government power and the IRS in particular to target their enemies and you are talking in a few minutes to Chuck Schumer–“

Schieffer: “We are going to leave this for another day, Senator. Thank you for joining us and we’ll talk to you again.”

Every word of that exchange was edited out of the broadcast. Cruz revealed the contents of the entire exchange on his YouTube channel.

McCain Adds Another Dubious Honor To His RINO Trophy Case

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) picked up the most illustrious of the many trophies he’s been collecting for his RINO mantle over the weekend, receiving a formal censure by the Arizona Republican Party for a voting record that betrays conservative values.

The official condemnation represents the latest in a series of scoldings the Senator has received from Republicans in Arizona. Republicans in his home county of Maricopa formally censured McCain on for similar reasons earlier this month on an overwhelmingly lopsided vote. But Saturdays’ censure vote, coming via the State Republican Party, marks the broadest reprimand McCain has yet received.

The resolution describes McCain’s voting record as “disastrous and harmful” and castigates the Senator for his recent positions on immigration reform, the funding of Obamacare and 2nd Amendment issues, among other offenses. The resolution concludes that McCain’s brand of “conservatism” has forced the Arizona Republican Party to “no longer support, campaign for or endorse John McCain as our U.S. Senator.”

The censure, which passed on a voice vote, carries no repercussions other than to draw a public line between party conservatives and McCain. But that sort of bad publicity can become its own quite tangible form of punishment.

Establishment GOP lawmakers quickly closed ranks to protect McCain following the vote. Former Arizona Republican Senator John Kyl evoked McCain’s own Tea Party-bashing language by telling The Arizona Republic the censure was “wacky.”

“To say that John McCain doesn’t work with Republicans, doesn’t have a conservative voting record — that’s just baloney,” said Kyl. “I served with him in the Senate for 18 years, 26 years all together, and we didn’t always vote alike, but his record is very conservative. It’s just wacky to say otherwise.”

Retiring House Democrat Jim Moran Wakes Up; Admits Obamacare Is Underwater

Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.), who’s not seeking a 13th term in office after his current term ends, told American University’s radio station Friday he doesn’t see a way for Obamacare to succeed if it continues to rely on human nature and market forces to meet its enrollment goals.

Moran candidly expressed concern that young people in the so-called “millennial generation” demographic will never voluntarily enroll for overpriced health care coverage as long as there remains no financial incentive to do so. Without an abundant enrollment of healthy, self-paying customers, there’s no way for insurers to benefit financially under Obamacare unless the government simply devises a way to bail them out.

“I’m afraid that the millennials, if you will, are less likely to sign up. I think they feel more independent, I think they feel a little more invulnerable than prior generations,” said Moran. “But I don’t think we’re going to get enough young people signing up to make this bill work as it was intended to financially.

“And, frankly, there’s some legitimacy to their concern because the government spends about $7 for the elderly for every $1 it spends on the young…I just don’t know how we’re going to do it frankly. If we had a solution I’d be telling the president right now.”

NSA Exploits Mobile Apps To Find Out Whether You’re Gay Or Straight

Have you installed Google Maps or Angry Birds on your smartphone? Apps for mobile devices – including those two phenomenally popular ones – evidently offer the National Security Agency a gateway into your device, and therefore a great deal of insight about who you are – your age, your sex, your whereabouts, and even whether you’re straight or gay; celibate or promiscuous.

The Guardian released yet another Edward Snowden revelation today that outlines how the NSA (as well as Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ) can use so-called “leaky” mobile apps – programs that transmit user data across the Internet – to monitor user behavior and build databases that harbor very personal information, as well as delineate broad patterns across wide demographics.

From The Guardian:

The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.

Many smartphone owners will be unaware of the full extent this information is being shared across the internet, and even the most sophisticated would be unlikely to realise that all of it is available for the spy agencies to collect.

Dozens of classified documents, provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica, detail the NSA and GCHQ efforts to piggyback on this commercial data collection for their own purposes.

Scooping up information the apps are sending about their users allows the agencies to collect large quantities of mobile phone data from their existing mass surveillance tools – such as cable taps, or from international mobile networks – rather than solely from hacking into individual mobile handsets.

The newspaper published a leaked NSA instructional graphic that demonstrates the type of personal information a leaky app can yield – including, according to The New York Times, “address books, buddy lists, phone logs and the geographic data embedded in photos when someone sends a post to the mobile versions of Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services.” The program has reportedly been operational since at least 2007.

Content Director Revealed Newspaper Company Plan To Build Concealed Carry Database

A media company that owns dozens of newspapers in 12 States “considered” creating private “state-by-state databases” tracking “those who have the right to carry a concealed weapon” as part of its strategy to report on “the explosion of ‘conceal and carry’ gun permits” across the Nation.

Civitas Media is a newspaper conglomerate that operates 88 newspapers. A confidential source within the company leaked an internal email that mentioned the plan to the Ohio-based Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA).

In a blog post built at 8 a.m. Friday, BFA spilled the beans about Civitas Media’s plan.

Content Director Jim Lawitz sent the email on Jan. 19 to “All Content Directors,” “All Content Producers” and “All Content Producers” at Civitas’ regional newspapers. BFA contacted some of those newspapers; no one would comment.

After all the hoopla stemming from BFA’s report, Civitas Media CEO Michael C. Bush issued a statement, which was on the company’s website by mid-afternoon Friday:

Civitas Media never had any plans or intentions of publishing in print or online lists of holders of “conceal and carry” permits. Nor will Civitas Media develop databases of permit holders. A poorly crafted internal memo meant to highlight editorial discussions and planning incorrectly indicated that such a database was being planned; it has been considered and rejected.

But that isn’t what the email indicates. See it for yourself. The first paragraph under the heading is the relevant one:

civitas-email

Several online commenters pointed out that “those who have the right to carry a concealed weapon” is perverse phrasing for a universal, natural right that the 2nd Amendment simply codifies as a safeguard to protect citizens from tyranny.

The company likely would have been met with varying degrees of success, depending on the public records laws in State where requests were filed. As BFA pointed out, its home State of Ohio has a rocky history of protecting the privacy of lawful gun owners with laws. The organization even struck back against another newspaper, the Sandusky Register — which in 2007 published a list of more than 2,600 Ohio concealed handgun license holders — by making public similar information about that paper’s managing editor:

In response, Buckeye Firearms Association decided to use truly publicly-available records to obtain information about [managing editor] Matt Westerhold and publish that information, which included his address and photos of his home, a description of his vehicle and license plate number, (which he had been driving when he committed a recent traffic offense). Later, in an article entitled “What is the harm in publishing lists of concealed handgun license holders?,” we used Westerhold as a case study to show how a person can use public records to obtain information that could be used by someone with intent to do harm. We obtained (but did not republish in its entirety even though it was acquired through public record) his birth date, social security number, and even the name of his then-pre-teen child. We pointed out that from the information we gathered though public record it would have been easy for a criminal to determine where the child went to school, what bus the child rode on, etc.

In short, our point is and always has been that THE ONLY USE FOR THESE LISTS IS TO TARGET AND VICTIMIZE GUN OWNERS.