Is A NorCal Secessionist Movement Gaining Momentum?

Three weeks ago, the conservative rural county of Siskiyou took a step toward seceding from the State of California. The Board of Supervisors for the county, which lies in extreme Northern California along the Oregon border, voted to secede, saying their residents’ interests were being stifled and even exploited in Sacramento in favor of the State’s major urban centers.

Now a neighboring county has voted to split from California. Modoc County, home to fewer than 10,000 residents, now joins Siskiyou in seeking to establish a 51st State that, if ever it should be approved by Congress, would be called the State of Jefferson.

It’s not likely to happen, of course. But then again, there seems to be significant momentum behind the latest push – chiefly because there aren’t a lot of leaders and residents in neighboring Northern California counties, this time, who are rushing forward to say that the whole idea is insane.

According to the Redding Record Searchlight, a newspaper based in nearby Shasta County, at least two counties are considering similar secession votes:

…[M]ost of the more populated counties in Northern California have yet to lend their support, though a number are considering it, including Shasta County and Redding, the most populous city north of Sacramento.

Siskiyou County has a population of just over 44,100, while Modoc has about 9,300 residents, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

Supervisors in Butte County, the most populated municipality to consider joining the movement, have scheduled a vote for Oct. 22.

The Redding City Council has yet to set a date for a discussion on the topic, which is being sought by Vice Mayor Patrick Jones.

A representative for the secessionist Jefferson Declaration Committee told the newspaper California is “essentially ungovernable in its present size” and that the committee would like to have 12 Northern California counties on board before attempting to form a new State – “though we can certainly do it with less.”

Modoc County forms California’s northeastern corner, lying along Oregon’s southern border and sharing a border with Nevada to the East.

State-By-State Obamacare Rate Table Offers A Great Incentive To Stay Healthy (Forever)

What is it gonna take for President Barack Obama to get you to drive away in a brand new Obamacare policy next week?

Double… Triple… Sextuple. How much are you willing to pay, particularly if you’re single and not too advanced in years, to swap your current health plan for an Obamacare plan?

The Wall Street Journal published a table Wednesday of State-by-State data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that contrasts the current lowest price of a single-coverage policy for a 27 year-old with the lowest price that same 27 year-old can expect to pay if he ditches his insurance (or, more likely, if his Obamacare-escaping employer cuts his hours back to 29 per week) in favor of an Obamacare plan.

Not being arithmeticians, and gently pressured by working deadlines, we only had a chance to crunch a few of the numbers. But it appears at a glance that the best Obamacare deal lies in the great State of New Hampshire, where the cheapest privately-held coverage plan of $149 per month can be supplanted for a relative steal of only $37 more per month.

What a bargain – New Hampshire residents could be the envy of everyone else. The contrast between cheap coverage now and “cheap” coverage under the Affordable Care Act gets downright loony in places like Little Rock ($31 monthly premiums versus $190 under Obamacare), all of Delaware ($51 versus $203), New Orleans ($39 versus $170) and Omaha ($26 versus $162 – a whopping 623 percent increase).

Sure, $26 is dirt cheap by absolutely any measure. But being told you’re going to have to pony up six times that amount for a revamped version of what you already have is basically the grown-up, government equivalent of watching a toddler make-believe demand that his baby sister pay a kajillion bajillion dollars before he’ll hand back her princess wand.

The table represents only those States where the Federal government is setting up and managing the mandatory insurance “exchanges” (a.k.a. virtual marketplace). Elsewhere, the health care exchanges will be managed by the States themselves.

As the table notes, some people may be eligible for subsidies to defray the hike in policy prices. But guess who pays for that? All the poor saps in Omaha who sign up to pay the $162 per month (and so on, in each State). And, if young and healthy people opt for the Obamacare penalty instead of buying coverage – as many industry pundits predict – that $162 a month will climb higher to make up the difference.

So what, exactly, is Ted Cruz on about? The conservative Texas Senator’s Obamacare-attacking filibuster gag was just a bunch of self-serving grandstanding borrowed from the McCarthy era…

Wasn’t it?

Lerner’s Retreat: IRS Chief Who Pleaded The 5th Retires As Tea Party Scandal Closes In

The former Internal Revenue Service official who attempted to testify on her own behalf before invoking her 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination resigned from her position Monday, even as a review board prepared to recommend that she be fired for her alleged role in wielding the tax agency’s power to illegally discriminate against conservative nonprofit groups.

Lois Lerner, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations division, had been on administrative leave since admitting in May that the IRS had bogged down conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election. She is expected to receive a full pension after retiring from her $177,000-per-year post.

Multiple news outlets reported that an IRS review board was posed to recommend that Lerner be fired for neglect of duty. Lerner, who allegedly had been made aware of the imminent embarrassment, avoided all that simply by quitting.

Congressional Republicans serving on various investigative panels said the resignation doesn’t affect Lerner’s susceptibility to a current subpoena by the House Oversight Committee, which doesn’t expire until the 113th Congress adjourns.

“We still don’t know why Lois Lerner, as a senior IRS official, had such a personal interest in directing scrutiny and why she denied improper conduct to Congress,” said Congressman Darrell E. Issa (R-Calif.) who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Her departure does not answer these questions or diminish the committee’s interest in hearing her testimony.”

The only testimony the committee has heard from Lerner thus far came shortly after the Tea Party scandal broke in late May, when Lerner infamously attempted to sway Congressional investigators with a brief self-acquittal before clamming up.

“I have done nothing wrong,” she had said at a committee hearing on May 22. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee.” Lerner then said she wished to invoke the 5th Amendment, a recourse that had outraged Republican committee members who said she waived her claim against self-incrimination by offering testimony, however brief.

The IRS review panel that planned to recommend Lerner’s firing did not find her controversial actions to be politically motivated, a claim that conservatives who’ve followed the case have disputed. Internal emails released by The Wall Street Journal earlier this month reveal Lerner’s public claim that “rogue” IRS employees had perpetrated the Tea Party scandal doesn’t gibe with Lerner’s in-house communication, in which she described Tea Party groups as “dangerous.” Lerner’s own words, the story states, “raise doubts about IRS claims that the targeting wasn’t politically motivated.”

‘It’s Like Prohibition’ As Maryland Gun Buyers Hoard Firearms Ahead Of Next Week’s Ban

With only a week to go before new gun laws that limit “assault weapons” and require fingerprints and licenses for handguns take effect, Maryland residents are buying firearms at an unprecedented rate.

The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday that the last-minute rush to beat the gun grab has resulted in residents snapping up weapons at a rate of more than 1,000 per day, outpacing the same sales figures for the same period a year ago by a 7-to-1 margin.

“It’s like Prohibition. People want to get their guns before the law takes effect,” one gun owner told the newspaper.

“Everything that’s been banned, we’ve been buying,” said Daniel Brantley, another gun owner who’s been involved in protesting the new laws. Brantley and his wife have bought half a dozen guns over the past six weeks, including the maligned AR-15 rifle, as well as a number of handguns.

The last-minute push intensifies what has already been an extremely active retail market for firearms in Maryland ever since the new laws were passed. From The Sun:

Demand for guns overwhelmed the state’s background check system months ago, leading half of the state’s 314 dealers to release weapons to buyers without waiting for them to be checked out.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Martin O’Malley pledged all the resources necessary to help plow through that backlog of background checks before the new law takes effect Oct. 1. But the onslaught of purchase applications has virtually wiped out the progress made by an all-hands-on-deck effort launched earlier this month.

Starting Oct. 1, prospective handgun buyers in Maryland will be required to submit their fingerprints for a State-managed database, complete a mandatory safety course and obtain a license. The handgun registry makes Maryland the fifth U.S. State that tracks lawful gun owners. In addition, residents won’t be able to legally purchase ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The sale of AR-15s, along with more than 40 other so-called “assault” weapons, will also be outlawed.

The Maryland Legislature passed the “Firearm Safety Act of 2013” in May amid a series of heavy debates in both legislative chambers that stretched late into the night. Governor Martin O’Malley, who had pledged gun control as one of his key objectives for this year’s legislative session, signed the law on May 16.

BREAKING: Cruz Pulls The Trigger On Obamacare Semi-Filibuster; Vows To Talk ‘Until I Am No Longer Able to Stand’

Per Senate rules, what Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is doing on the Senate floor right now isn’t technically a filibuster.

But it’s a principled stand against something Cruz and the majority of his constituents believe is wrong. If his pledged talk-a-thon accomplishes nothing else, it will hopefully galvanize latent support for the repudiation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – even as it separates Senate conservatives willing to stand with Cruz in his opposition to Obamacare from everybody else. As of 3:45 p.m. Eastern time, Cruz had been joined on the Senate floor by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Let’s see who else comes forward.

The critics came out of the woodwork almost as soon as Cruz was up and running, with The Washington Post insinuating that the Senator doesn’t understand the functional distinction between the House of  Representatives and the Senate, and The Atlantic panning Cruz’ early remarks as “vacuous, feel-good nonsense speech.”

It could be a long night, so here’s hoping that Cruz donned his ostrich-skinned “argument boots,” as he described his favorite footwear in a recent, lengthy GQ feature article. If you want to read up on Cruz but are hankering for something a bit more…substantive, check out Rare’s enlightening interview, published in late July.

C-SPAN is streaming Cruz’ comments live from the Senate floor.

Cruz’ Twitter account is being manned by an assistant, who’s updating the feed with one-liners that summarize the Senator’s talking points in real time. The Twitter feed is here.

Paul Amendment Would Put Supreme Court (And The Rest Of The Federal Payroll) Under Obamacare

If Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has his way, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts — who sided with the liberal wing of the High Court in upholding Obamacare as a “tax” on individuals back in June 2012 — will join the rest of Washington, and the country, in signing up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Questioned by The Daily Caller about his proposal to outlaw any healthcare coverage exemptions for Federal employees, Paul — an advocate of fair play rather than the Obamacare plan itself — said he believes all government employees ought to buy their coverage in the same manner as the rest of the American people.

From the story:

Paul’s proposal — outlawing any special exemptions for government employees — would mean all federal workers would have to purchase health insurance on the new Obamacare exchanges instead of getting taxpayer-funded subsidies. Some critics say those subsidies amount to special treatment. The Obamacare health insurance exchange opens Oct 1.

“My amendment says basically that everybody including Justice Roberts — who seems to be such a fan of Obamacare — gets it too,” Paul explained. “See, right now, Justice Roberts is still continuing to have federal employee health insurance subsidized by the taxpayer. And if he likes Obamacare so much, I’m going to give him an amendment that gives Obamacare to Justice Roberts.”

Fearing a Washington, D.C. “brain drain” — a potential mass exodus of well-compensated intelligentsia working both within and on the periphery of government — if Congressional staffers and other Federal employees had to pony up the same money as everyone else to receive the same quality of coverage as everyone else, the Office of Personnel Management said last month the government would subsidize about 75 percent of the cost of premiums for member of Congress and Congressional staff.

Pelosi Says There’s Nothing Left In The Federal Budget To Cut

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took to the small screen over the weekend to bolster President Barack Obama’s argument that Congress must raise the Federal debt limit, telling a CNN host in a nonsensical interview that government has already slashed as much pork from its $4 trillion annual budget as is humanly possible.

Saying that House Republicans are “legislative arsonists” hell-bent on destroying the government’s role in education, research and development, Pelosi told CNN’s Candy Crowley “there’s no more cuts to make.”

Because the cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make. It’s really important that people understand that. We all want to reduce the deficit. …You cannot have any more cuts just for the sake of cuts. Right now you’re taking trophies.

On Friday, House Republicans ushered through a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government without funding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, setting the stage for what could be a monumental battle this week between Senate conservatives — however many of them there truly are — and Senate progressives representing both parties.

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is set to begin selling coverage through State-run healthcare exchanges in one week, although the functionality of the new exchanges continues to be stripped in order for the plan’s political supporters to claim the new healthcare marketplaces are being deployed without a hiccup.

Meanwhile, Pelosi’s claim that all the fat’s been trimmed from government looks remarkably silly.

Report: CAIR Uses Shell Corps To Hide Major Middle Eastern Donors With Terror Ties

While the IRS has been busy bogging down conservative nonprofit groups with no connections to violent terrorist ideologies, it’s been tacitly green-lighting the nonprofit status of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which for years has been hiding the identities of major Middle Eastern donors with ties to terror organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to The Daily Caller, which released a story Saturday about CAIR’s Byzantine money-laundering shell game, the organization has gone to extraordinary lengths to obscure the sources of its funding, even as it presents a disingenuously benign face to the American public.

Despite the group’s ties to Hamas and its court-documented origins as part the Muslim Brotherhood’s network in America, CAIR officials — including Awad, its communications director Ibrahim Hooper, and others — have appeared in media, been praised by politicians and continued to claim to represent the American Muslim community.

This last claim may ring hollow, though, as CAIR’s fundraising practices are constructed in a way that makes it impossible to trace large donations from overseas, including from foreign governments.

While behaving and referring to itself as a single organization, CAIR has taken advantage of the lack of donor reporting requirements for its de-listed 501(c)(4) non-profit to collect funds from large donors who remain anonymous, then depositing the funds into its 501(c)(3) entity. This practice is referred to in the federal criminal statutes as “laundering” of funds.

When foreign funds are laundered into a US political non-profit this way, it runs afoul of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, a 1938 statute requiring “persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal.” Similarly, it is illegal under US law to shift funds from overseas in order not to report to the IRS.

On Monday, a Minnesota-based Somali community leader named Abdirizak Bihi revealed that for years CAIR has successfully blocked his efforts to alert law enforcement to the Islamist radicalization of Somalis living in the U.S.

That report came on the heels of a weekend terror attack (thought President Barack Obama still hasn’t called it by that name) that took the lives of more than 60 shoppers at an upscale mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Radicalized Americans from the very same Minnesota neighborhood where Bihi lives are reportedly among the al-Shabaab terrorists who launched that attack.

“Bihi has been working to stop radicalization of Somali-Americans for years. He has testified before Congress about the dangers of radicalization in the U.S. Somali community, working alongside the FBI and the Justice Department,” The Daily Caller reports:

But he told The Daily Caller the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has blocked his efforts for years, telling law enforcement agencies by telling them that he doesn’t know the Somali community and calling him “an Islamophobe” in a recent report.

“They say that I am a bad person, that I am anti-Muslim, and that I don’t represent a hundred percent the Somali community,” Bihi said. “They lie about my life most of the time and try to destroy my character, my capability, and my trust in the community.”

Bihi, director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, also says CAIR has tried to bring Somalis into the organization and [CAIR] denies the threat that terrorism poses.

“CAIR boasts that it’s a Somali organization,” Bihi concluded. “They can’t find a Somali to work with them.”

Spinning The Sequester: Obama’s Posh Idea Of ‘Austerity’

Last week, President Barack Obama commemorated the five-year anniversary of the Nation’s economic dive in a White House speech that managed to excoriate his party opposition on the same day that a crazy man was killing people in a Naval yard only a few miles away.

Obama touched on the shooting, saying “we are confronting yet another mass shooting,” before moving on the real topic at hand: blaming Congressional Republicans for the “austere” budget sequestration — a program of spending cuts (not actual budget cuts, mind you, but spending cuts) that Obama himself originally had proposed.

From the President’s Sept. 16 speech:

The problem is at the moment, Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on how to grow the economy and build the middle class. I say “at the moment” because I’m still hoping that a light bulb goes off here.

So far, their budget ideas revolve primarily around even deeper cuts to education, even deeper cuts that would gut America’s scientific research and development, even deeper cuts to America’s infrastructure investment — our roads, our bridges, our schools, our energy grid…

…Instead of making necessary changes with a scalpel, so far at least, Republicans have chosen to leave in place the so-called sequester cuts that have cost jobs, harmed growth, are hurting our military readiness. And top independent economists say this has been a big drag on our recovery this year. Our economy is not growing as fast as it should and we’re not creating as many jobs as we should, because the sequester is in place. That’s not my opinion. That’s the opinion of independent economists.

The sequester makes it harder to do what’s required to boost wages for American workers, because the economy is still slack. So if Republicans want the economy to grow faster, create more jobs faster, they should want to get rid of it. It’s irresponsible to keep it in place.

And if Congress is serious about wanting to grow the economy faster and creating jobs faster, the first order of business must be to pass a sensible budget that replaces the sequester with a balanced plan that is both fiscally sound and funds the investments like education and basic research and infrastructure that we need to grow. This is not asking too much.

The fallacy of Obama’s assertion that it’s “irresponsible” for government to spend money less quickly than he’d like is twofold:

  • First, Obama lives in a closed system of liberal thinking on fiscal policy, one that can conceive of government only in terms of its presence in — not its absence from — every phase of social enterprise. If he truly believes the sequester is a bloodletting of government-supported programs, imagine the culture shock he’d experience if he woke from a long sleep to find American government operating at Tea Party scale.
  • Second, it’s a lie that sequestration is slowing down anything. The juggernaut of government spending, across a kaleidoscope of programs (most of which won’t be familiar to average Americans who think of Federal spending in terms of militaries, Interstate highways, foreign relations, ports, air travel and interstate commerce), is running with as much momentum as any tax-and-spend liberal could hope for.

Reason has culled a list of budget entries published in the Federal Register dating back to March 1, when the sequester first went into effect. It’s 17,679 items long, and it’s only a small part of what the government has authorized since that time. Check it out here.

Harry Reid Will Make Sure Obamacare Gets Funded, But That Doesn’t Mean Conservatives Should Give Up The Fight

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has predicted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would inevitably figure out a way to strike a Republican-backed amendment that defunds Obamacare from the stopgap government funding bill it was to approve this month.

This week, Cruz will likely get to watch that scenario play out.

And, despite strong principled opposition to the Affordable Care Act, there not a lot that Cruz and the Republican Senate minority — several of whom are siding with Senator John McCain and the Democratic majority in supporting the inclusion of Obamacare — can do.

“Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so,” Cruz said last week, as the House vote neared. “At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people.”

The House indeed voted Friday to temporarily fund the government through December, but attached an amendment that strips funding for the Affordable Care Act, which is supposed to start rolling out on Oct. 1.

Within hours of the vote, Reid’s evident strategy for stripping that amendment right back out of the bill began circulating on the Internet.

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not confirmed what procedural path he will choose but colleagues say he is likely to use an ‘amendment to strike’ to kill the House-originated language to defund the new healthcare law while keeping the government funded,” explains a story at The Hill.

What is an “amendment to strike?” It’s a procedurally acceptable placeholder amendment that can be attached to the House version of the bill as it passes through the process of Senate debate with the defunding language completely intact.

Republicans in the Senate (well, all the ones who aren’t siding with McCain’s defeatism) would be obligated to favor the bill as long as it preserves the House version’s defunding language. But Reid’s “amendment to strike” (which serves essentially as a “substitute amendment,” according to a Democratic aide) would permit the scheduling of a future Senate vote so that the Democratic majority could legally remove the defunding measure altogether.

Got all that? Those are the rules of procedure.

“Since you can amend a bill post-cloture, as long as it’s germane, with only a simple majority, it would seem to me that he [Reid] has a way to make this work as he wishes,” Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) explained to The Hill. “…I can’t imagine why any Senate Republican would vote to block cloture or block motion to proceed on a bill they support. I’m assuming that what the House sends over is what we support.”

There’s an air of inevitability hanging over the pending Senate vote, and Democrats will likely be able to convince the mainstream media that their Senate victory (abetted by several Senate RINOs) is the common-sense antidote to the madness perpetrated by the more conservative (and, incidentally, more representative) House GOP.

The defund measure is all but dead; that’s almost certain. But if the Senate’s few strong conservatives don’t anticipate the way Democrats and the media will represent their forthcoming “victory” to the public, they stand to lose the political capital they’ve so diligently cultivated among the voting public and with Congressional leadership.

Summarizing how ugly Congressional Republicans could end up looking over the Obamacare fight in the court of public opinion, The Libertarian Republic’s Keith Farrell advised conservative to pick their battles:

Even with a victory in the House [Friday], the Democrat controlled Senate will likely strip the language from bill concerning Affordable Care, as Senator Cruz predicts. And if, by some miracle, the bill does get to Obama’s desk, he will veto it. Any ensuing standoff would likely be short, and likely result in Republican concession. The GOP and its constituents may need to save their resources and live to fight another day.

Maybe. But Senator Cruz has dug in too deep on Obamacare — and has asked too much of his earnest conservative supporters — to tone down the rhetoric. Wouldn’t the true conservative leadership in both chambers be better off to go down swinging? Once the Affordable Care Act has had some time to work its magic, not only might those who opposed it to the bitter end live to fight another day; they might actually win the next round, with the support of a disgusted public.

Video: Don’t Try Giving Away Copies Of The Constitution At Modesto Junior College

Some crazy kid named Robert Van Tuinen, a student at Modesto Junior College (MJC) in California’s Central Valley, thought it would be appropriate to commemorate Constitution Day on Sept. 17 by passing out free copies of our Nation’s founding document to fellow students walking around the campus.

It didn’t go so well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XqD6RhRBAA

Nice try, kid. Did you think this was a free country? Van Tuinen was shut down by college police, who along with school administrators told him he had to do that sort of thing in the campus free speech zone (because the whole U.S. isn’t a free speech zone), and that he’d already missed his chance, at any rate, because he hadn’t scheduled his plan to use the free speech zone the requisite number of days in advance.

George Lucas went to MJC and based his major directorial debut, American Graffiti, about life in Modesto. Now his JuCo alma mater is giving the U.S. Constitution the graffiti treatment.

How Much Government Is Good Government? Americans’ Opinions Evenly Divided

A Gallup survey released Wednesday indicates a virtually dead-even three-way split in Americans’ opinions on the extent to which government “problem-solving” measures should permeate society, with virtually the same proportion of respondents advocating for big government as for small government. Those who believe government should play a moderate role in society comprised the remaining third.

The survey, which used a graduated five-point rating system to gauge Americans’ opinions about the role government ought to play, questioned 1,510 adults over a four-day period earlier this month. On the five-point scale, “5” represents government activism; “1” represents government at its most bare-bones functional.

Gallup worded the survey this way, phrasing the question under the heading “Preference Regarding Federal Government’s Role”:

Where would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means you think the government should do only those things necessary to provide the most basic government functions, and 5 means you think the government should tale active steps in every area it can to try and improve the lives of its citizens? You may use any number from 1 to 5.

An even 33 percent of respondents answered with a “3,” while 19 percent answered “5” and 16 percent answered “1.” Adding the progressives together — the percentage of people who answered either “4” or “5” — and big government appeals to 34 percent of those surveyed. Adding the “1” and “2” responses of small-government advocates yields a nearly identical number: 32 percent.

Things got a bit more interesting when Gallup asked whether people would favor a more limited government if, in the bargain, it meant that their tax burden would decrease. More than half would rather see the government get smaller, in exchange for tax reductions:

Although Americans’ basic preferences are divided between active and limited government, they tilt more heavily in the direction of limited government in a separate question asking for their preferred tradeoff between taxes and government involvement. A majority, 53%, favor less government involvement in addressing the nation’s problems in order to reduce taxes, while 13% favor more government involvement to address the nation’s problems, and higher taxes. Another 31% believe government involvement and taxes should be the same as they are now.

In addition, 55 percent of respondents said they think the current government is attempting to play too active a role in improving people’s lives, compared with 38 percent who believe the government isn’t doing enough. That’s the highest percentage of people who believe the current batch of national elected leaders are too hands-on since Gallup began asking the question in 1992.

Bills Requiring Welfare Recipients To Pass Drug Tests; Do Volunteer Work Move Through Michigan Legislature

The Michigan State Senate has approved a measure that requires able-bodied welfare recipients to show a little good faith if they’re willing to ask for, and receive, government assistance.

According to CBS Detroit, the State Senate passed a bill requiring those receiving public assistance to perform volunteer work. The House Commerce Committee, meanwhile, has vetted a separate bill that would require periodic drug testing, and that would revoke the benefits of any recipient who declines to take the tests, or tests positive.

“The whole intention is to make certain folks have some skin in the game, and I don’t feel that there’s any problem with making folks go out and do some kind of community service in order to receive their cash assistance,” said Republican State Senator Joe Hune, who sponsored the volunteer bill.

The legislation isn’t sitting well with some Democrats, though. “These people, they already need as much money as they can get, they wouldn’t be asking for it if they didn’t need it,” said Democratic State Senator Vincent Gregory. “… A lot of people are embarrassed to even be there [asking for benefits], and they have this put on them — It’s this feeling that ‘This is what the public wants.’ But the public doesn’t want to see people beaten down.”

The legislation has been written to allow for a lot of leeway in its implementation, with Hune noting that the State’s Department of Human Services is better equipped than elected politicians to implement the new programs on a functional level – should the two bills become law.

An accompanying viewer poll on the CBS Detroit website asked readers, “Should People Be required To Perform Community Service To Receive Welfare?”

At last check, the “yesses” had a slight lead over the “nos” – 97.23 percent to 2.77.

Does Harry Reid Hear What He’s Saying?

Close on the heels of his observation that Congressional Republicans must be a bunch of anarchists, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday the House GOP is “trying to get rid of” the government.

Bristling at the House GOP’s forthcoming plan to defund Obamacare by attaching a proviso to its stopgap government-funding bill, Reid struck a particularly condescending tone.

“We’re waiting to see what comes from the House on whether to fund the government or not,” Reid said. “Waiting to see what the House is going to do — to see what absurd idea will prevail over there.”

Apparently a believer that even a nursery rhyme could sound sinister if it’s recited in an appropriately alarming voice, Reid also accused Republicans of something many true conservatives — without the added hyperbole — embrace as a virtue.

“We have a number of Republican Senators and lots of Republican House members who don’t believe in government,” he said from the Senate floor Wednesday. “They want to get rid of it, and they’re doing everything they can to get rid of it.”

Yeah, guess that’s why they’re mostly career politicians. Reid’s Republicans are a bunch of radical ideologues willing to get elected so that they can subvert the system from within, like sneaky nihilistic ninjas.

But how, even in Reid’s view, does accusing conservative lawmakers of advocating for limited government sound like something that would resonate with all but the stupidest of Americans? Only the strident language makes it sound like a bad thing. And only a child would take emotional cues from the form, and not the content, of a message.

Maybe Reid is hoping there are enough functional illiterates out there who can be persuaded by his words so that the Democrats’ inevitable victory over raising the Federal debt limit can be reported on television to look like a mandate from the people.

IRS Was ‘Acutely’ Aware Of Obama’s Desire To ‘Crack Down’ On Tea Party

A House Oversight Committee investigation finds that Internal Revenue Service staffers involved in the Tea Party political discrimination scandal took their cues on which nonprofit conservative groups to single out for bureaucratic harassment from President Barack Obama and other progressive political leaders.

While the investigation’s most recent report, which began circulating Tuesday, doesn’t explicitly accuse the President or any other elected leader of instructing the IRS to deny Tea Party groups’ applications for nonprofit status, it does allege that IRS staffers had a clear understanding that slowing down conservatives was something the President wanted them to do.

Ongoing portrayals of the Tea Party, in mainstream media, as a menacing assortment of ignorant wingnuts further bolstered IRS staff in their belief that the various conservative groups were ripe for targeting — since no one, evidently, would notice or care if the government decided to illegally violate the free speech of members of a movement the left-leaning media all but described as a hate group.

“In one of the key findings, investigators said negative press coverage of the tea party was one reason why the IRS gave the groups special scrutiny,” reports The Washington Times:

IRS employees were “acutely” aware in 2010 that President Obama wanted to crack down on conservative organizations and were egged into targeting tea party groups by press reports mocking the emerging movement, according to an interim report being circulated Tuesday by House investigators.

…The Republican oversight report traces the growing pressure on the IRS to act, beginning with Mr. Obama’s criticism of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in his 2010 State of the Union address to calls from top members of Congress for the IRS to give special scrutiny to tea party applications.

…Emails among IRS officials, and committee interviews with them, show agency employees were aware of the pressure, sending one another news reports and commenting — in sometimes derisive language — about the tea party applications.

By contrast, the report finds that liberal groups that applied for nonprofit status were typically approved quickly — even as Tea Party applications were stymied for up to three years.

The Oversight Committee’s finding is bolstered by a report Wednesday in USA Today that revealed the IRS was targeting groups “based on the content of their literature, raising concerns specifically about ‘anti-Obama rhetoric,’ inflammatory language and ‘emotional’ statements made by nonprofits seeking tax-exempt status.”

That report found that only 11 progressive groups (out of 162) were named on an internally circulated “propaganda” list, while more than 80 percent were specifically identified as conservative.

This Picture Might Explain The Journalistic Confusion About Guns

With all the mass confusion among reporters in the mainstream media over which bad guy used which bad gun in which bad murdering spree, isn’t it about time someone gave these hapless journalists a little help?

One Twitter user thought so. On Wednesday, Mike Morrison, a self-described “advocate of Liberty,” offered this handy visual reference guide. From now on, Piers Morgan, you have no excuses.

BUYCQ_tCAAA0JYk.jpg large.

Mistake Or Malfeasance? Doesn’t Matter; This Textbook Gets The 2nd Amendment Dead Wrong

It could be the innocent product of overzealous editing, or it could be intentional. Either way, a high school textbook supplement has a lot of parents upset for what it’s telling students about the meaning of the 2nd Amendment.

The Denton, Texas, Unified School District adopted the book, United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, as a supplement to a larger course of study for students aiming to ace the AP U.S. History test to jump-start their college careers.

School officials in Texas say it’s meant to serve as a supplemental guide to assist more thorough study of the Constitution, but the book has drawn anger from some parents who believe it’s a subversive effort to rewrite what the Constitutional framers originally wrote.

The Constitution:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

And now the book:

Second Amendment: The people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.

The paperback version sells for about $37 on Amazon. Until word of the Bill of Rights butchering began circulating among conservative Internet sites this week, it had received almost universal praise from student reviewers throughout the country who’d used it to anticipate the questions they’d face on the AP U.S. History exam.

But the book’s user rating, which appears to have hovered around four stars (out of five), has taken a dive down to two stars just in the past week, after all the publicity began driving angry Constitutionalists to the site.

For some perspective, though, here’s the (hastily written?) opinion of one review from back in 2010, offered by a customer who identifies as an AP teacher (“DBQ” stands for “Document-Based Question”):

The book leaves out a subtantial maount of essential information, and is downright deceptively bias in many areas of national politics. (note the background and inclination of the authors on the inside flap). As the book is highly slanted politically throughout and SELECTIVELY avoids facts that are essential to FULLY answering the DBQs, I would not at all recommend this book to any student who is preparing dilligently for the exam. The political cartoons in this book were especially repulsive in their political slant as well as deceptions for the student. Unless most of the AP readers are teachers/profs. from Boulder Colorado, or Santa Cruz California, the student will fail to be able to provide a well rounded and informed answer on his DBQs which will result in a lowered overall score. This brief readers digest (TIME/NEWSWEEK) version of history should only be used along with another tome that covers both partisan sides of the American political and social spectrum over the past 300 years. Caveat emptor with this one folks!

Youth-slant political website PolicyMic makes the case — perhaps inadvertently — for the argument that the book simply isn’t written by people who understand any portion of the Bill of Rights. PolicyMic’s Saad Asad writes:

Students are taught the complete version in classes, and the supplemental textbook is only used as a quick guide to prepare before the AP exam. As someone who once took these classes, I can attest to the inaccuracy of many of these supplemental textbooks, which are only meant to be review guides.

Although the Second Amendment summary is receiving a lot of criticism, the authors also erroneously summarized the Third Amendment by stating: “The people cannot be required to quarter (house) soldiers during peacetime.” This skims over the clause that explicitly forbids quartering during times of war. In fact, the history of the Third Amendment is explicitly rooted in protesting the British quartering of soldiers in wartime. It would be silly to assume there is some ideological bias behind this summary of quartering.

Whether intentional or just dumb, it’s time for this mangled reimagining of the 2nd Amendment, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, to end. There’s already enough agenda-driven misinformation being foisted on young people, as ever-zealous progressives carry on their tireless campaign to obscure the plain language of our Constitution.

Another Stimulus-Backed Green Energy Company Goes Broke

ECOtality, the San Francisco-based “leader in clean electric transportation technologies” (they make electric car charging stations), filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday after laying off employees last week and repaying $96 million out of a total $115 million in stimulus money awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009.

Trading in the company’s stock was halted Tuesday morning; a single share of ECOtality stock can currently be had for 23 cents. The bankruptcy filing is pessimistic, noting the “Company’s common stock will have very little or no value given the amount of the Company’s liabilities compared to its assets.”

Under the filing, ECOtality will receive a $1.25 million loan from Nissan, an unsecured creditor, and will continue to operate until its remaining assets have been sold off.

Critics of the cozy relationship between the Administration of President Barack Obama and the green energy sector told The Washington Times ECOtality’s demise is only the latest example of how government has no business putting its thumb on the competitive scales that weigh a company’s viability in the private marketplace.

“Government is terrible at picking winners and losers for a simple reason: Politics always interferes,” energy policy expert William Yeatman, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Times. “That news is only the latest costly reminder that Energy Department bureaucrats shouldn’t be running a taxpayer-backed investment bank for green energy.”

More from the same article:

Jonathan Read, the company’s former CEO, styled himself as a “political beast.” Read boasted about his political connections, and received bonus payments contingent on ECOtality winning DOE support.

One ECOtality executive blamed the company’s financial troubles on Read, who, the executive said, “offered no leadership and either directly or indirectly […] squandered or pocketed all the government money.”

News of a possibly bankruptcy filing had been swirling since August, so it was only natural that investors were waiting in the wings Tuesday with a class action lawsuit. According to The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch site, the suit alleges that the company knew its finances were dire long before disclosing any negative information to investors

Does that mean the U.S. government, which got had on its $115 million deal, can prosecute?

Despite some Congressional criticism and a Labor Department probe into its payroll practices, that’s a moot question. The Obama Administration, which has vetted speculative green energy ventures in doling out the stimulus money, isn’t likely to take an adversarial position against its own failed policies.

CBO Long-Term Budget Outlook: Bad, Really Bad

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a majorly pessimistic revision to its long-term Federal budget outlook Wednesday, predicting that publicly-held Federal debt will rise to 100 percent of the National GDP within the next 30 years – instead of the already-alarming 73 percent of GDP it accounts for now.

Describing Congress’ annual capitulation to pressure to raise the Federal debt ceiling an “unsustainable” fiscal scheme, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf hinted that disaster lies ahead if the best that government can do is continue its tax-and-spend policy over the long term.

“The federal budget is on a course that cannot be sustained indefinitely,” Elmendorf said. “Because federal debt is already unusually high relative to GDP, further increases in debt could be especially harmful.”

The increasing ratio of debt service (that’s loan repayment for public debt) to GDP is on track to jump from 2 percent of GDP to 5 percent, meaning that the government will be spending more of tomorrow’s dollars to pay for tax-and-spend debt it’s incurring now. That, coupled with an enormous jump in Federal entitlement spending (an even 200 percent by 2038), threatens to commit the lion’s share of tomorrow’s economy to the economic equivalent of treading water.

The upshot is that the Federal debt is on track to reach – literally – 100 percent of GDP within the next 25 years.

“The policy responses to mitigate rising debt levels are all politically difficult,” writes Reason’s Peter Suderman. “Federal policymakers will have to cut spending, increase revenues, or some mix of the two. But it will be especially hard to raise revenues since they’re already on track to be higher as a percentage of GDP than is typical. Rapid changes might negatively shock the system. But letting debt continue to rise is dangerous too: ‘because federal debt is already unusually high relative to GDP,’ the report says, ‘further increases in debt could be especially harmful.’”

Congress is set to fight over another hike in the Federal debt ceiling next month, though an increase is all but inevitable if the government is to avoid defaulting, given its present rate of spending.

Read a pretty in-depth synopsis from the CBO here. Access the full report here.

First Recall; Now Repeal: Colorado 2nd Amendment Groups Aim For Overturn Of Gun Laws

Backers of the successful recall of two Colorado State Senators are pledging to continue fighting for the repeal of the same gun control laws that led to the two Senators’ ouster, following their support of the anti-2nd Amendment legislation earlier this year.

On Breitbart’s Sirius XM radio broadcast Sunday, Jennifer Kerns of Basic Freedom Defense Fund (BFDF) – a Colorado nonprofit established earlier this year in response to the State Legislature’s “appalling act of government overreach” – said the group is only halfway done with the task of remedying a Constitutional infringement perpetrated by elected officials.

“We won and now we want more,” she said, adding that the recall effort’s grassroots success will, hopefully, keep the pressure on the State legislature to overturn the pair of new laws, which have been on the books since July.

One of those laws restricts the size of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds; the other expands background checks to include private sales, as well as firearms sales done online. Sheriffs from 54 of the State’s 64 counties have filed a lawsuit, alleging that the laws are unConstitutional.

In a joint press release Friday, BFDF and Pueblo Freedom and Rights, a “grassroots issues committee,” announced the repeal movement “will not be going away silently into the night,” calling on all State legislators to respond to a survey sent by BFDF last week:

In an effort to understand where State legislators stand on Colorado’s new gun laws, we are writing to ask your position on key issues. As you are likely aware, we recently succeeded in the first successful recall of not one, but two, State officials in Colorado history.

As we consider our next endeavors, we wish to know where every legislator stands on a repeal of Colorado’s unlawful new gun restrictions.

Please take a moment to answer this simple, 2-question survey:

Will you vote for a repeal of Colorado’s new gun laws if given the opportunity in the 2014 legislative session? ___ YES or ___ NO

Would you support a Ballot Initiative that would repeal Colorado’s gun laws? ___ YES or ___ NO

“While we consider Tuesday’s election a significant victory, we realize that these egregious gun laws remain and we want to know where each and every Colorado State legislator stands on them,” said Kerns in the statement. “It is a new day in Colorado and constituents expect their legislators to represent the will of the people. No one is immune from the reach of the grassroots efforts which powered these two recall elections.”

In addition, the two groups sent the same survey to every announced candidate planning to run for a State office in 2014. The responses will be made public Oct. 1.

Colorado voters recalled two Democratic state Senators – Angela Giron and Senate President John Morse – last week in a special election that liberals outside the State claim was unfairly weighted in favor of 2nd Amendment advocates – because mail-in ballots were not allowed.

SWAT-Style EPA Raid In Alaska Shines A Light On Federal Agencies With Arrest Power

After EPA agents in tactical gear swarmed a mining operation in the tiny Alaskan outpost of Chicken last week, the State’s governor blasted the Feds, calling the raid an “absolutely unacceptable” example of government resorting to intimidation tactics to enforce something as nonviolent an (alleged) offense as the Clean Water Act.

Now, a new analysis of government data reveals the EPA is only one of dozens of Federal agencies that have self-contained armed divisions.

Looking past the DEA, FBI and, since 2002, the DHS, there are about 12,000 full-time Federal officers across 40 agencies who can carry firearms and arrest suspects, according to a Fox News analysis of a Justice Department report. Of those, at least a dozen agencies aren’t concerned at all with law enforcement, but nonetheless retain enforcement officers with guns.

“Though most Americans know agents within the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons carry guns, agencies such as the Library of Congress and Federal Reserve Board employing armed officers might come as a surprise,” the Fox report states:

The number of federal department [sic] with armed personnel climbs to 73 when adding in the 33 offices of inspector general, the government watchdogs for agencies as large as the Postal Service to the Government Printing Office, whose IG has only five full-time officers.

The late-August raid on Chicken, a small gold mining town near the State’s eastern border, involved officers from the EPA, FBI, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Coast Guard, NOAA and the U.S. Park Service. The Federal agents were allegedly acting in concert with the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force, but the State’s Congressional delegation, as well as the State police, weren’t buying it.

“Their explanation – that there are concerns within the area of rampant drug trafficking and human trafficking going on – sounds wholly concocted to me,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)… This seems to have been a heavy-handed, and heavy-armor approach. Why was it so confrontational? The EPA really didn’t have any good answers for this.”

Chicken is a tiny place, with nothing resembling a block-grid infrastructure. Lying near the State’s Eastern border with Canada, it has a current population of seven. The only year-round access to the town is via a small local airstrip.

An Alaska State Trooper spokesperson also told the Alaska Dispatch that the State police had not advised the EPA of any “dangerous drug activity” in the area. “We do not have evidence to suggest that is occurring,” said Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters.