Rand Paul Argues Democrats ‘Should Not Escape’ Pain Obamacare Will Cause Everyday Americans

After Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) delivered his marathon talk last Tuesday to galvanize GOP opposition to Obamacare, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) published an opinion piece in The Washington Times, excoriating the hypocrisy of Congressional leaders who continue to support the Affordable Care Act while exempting themselves from its mandates.

What should infuriate you the most is the fact that the same elected officials who implemented this mandate have recently declared themselves exempt from it. That is to say, these officials are forcing you to partake in something that they themselves are refusing. If Obamacare is so great, why then are federal employees and elected officials getting special treatment and opting out?

If President Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid and Chief Justice Roberts love Obamacare so much, they should live under it. Their actions speak louder than words, and it is erroneous for these leaders to even attempt to claim that Obamacare is a step forward for Americans.

Not a difficult concept to understand, is it?

One thread that runs through all of the conservative opposition to Obamacare has been the simplicity of the conservatives’ moral message. Despite the sophistication of Cruz’s Ivy League mind or of Paul’s Hippocratic training, conservative lawmakers have had no need to fall back on complexity, obfuscation or patronizing, “it’s-complicated” justification for why they have taken this particular stand on the healthcare law. Rather, their message is manifestly simple and just plain correct: It’s wrong for Congress to stand apart from the laws it has created.

Similarly, Democrats and RINO proponents of Obamacare have feebly argued in favor of the law from a smug high ground of intricate, systemic and complicated explanations. Their attempt at intellectual abstraction to defend the indefensible — such as when President Barack Obama last week urged America to wait patiently for the law to begin reverberating through society, or when Senator John McCain criticized Cruz and Co. for failing to appreciate his fatalistic “compromise” justification for siding with the Democrats — is both stupidly transparent and intellectually dishonest.

People often see through such condescension if they’re paying attention.

Here’s more unfiltered logic from Paul:

I find it absolutely despicable that Mr. Obama, his administration and the elected officials who shoved this mandate down the throat of Americans are now giving themselves waivers. The president is also giving his friends waivers. Mr. Obama’s behavior mirrors that of a captain jumping overboard, abandoning his own sinking ship.

I have a proposal. I have offered an amendment that would outlaw any special exemptions for government employees. This amendment requires all federal workers to purchase health insurance from the new Obamacare exchanges, instead of receiving taxpayer-funded subsidies.

I am also introducing a more broad constitutional amendment, which states that Congress shall make no law that treats citizens differently from the elites in the federal government.

… My legislation and constitutional amendment will remind all elected officials that they are not above the law, and they are certainly not above the American people.

Hopefully, by 2014, a great many elected officials will learn that same lesson at the polls.

Seymour Hersh: Obama Administration Narrative Of Bin Laden Death ‘One Big Lie’

Pulitzer journalist Seymour Hersh, who first earned recognition for breaking the My Lai massacre scandal, doesn’t buy the Obama Administration’s narrative of how Osama bin Laden was taken down. In fact, he thinks American media is mostly garbage and coddles President Barack Obama instead of hitting the streets to suss out the truth behind sanctioned press releases.

Hersh told The Guardian American media – and The New York Times, in particular – spends most of its energies “carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would.”

From the interview:

Do you think Obama’s been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What’s going on [with journalists]?

…Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don’t we do our own work?

Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here’s a debate’ our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who’s right and who’s wrong about issues. That doesn’t happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks.

As for the bin Laden narrative?

“Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he said. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullsh*t report.”

Hersh said his solution to the lapdog media problem would involve firing 90 percent of America’s newspaper editors and replacing them with “editors that you can’t control;” people “who look you in the eye and say, ‘I don’t care what you say.’”

Then he’d shut down the major television news networks and “start all over, tabula rasa.”

Who wants to go first?

U.N. Panel Will Need Literary License To Spin Climate Change Myth

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations committee that has been pushing the urgency of manmade global warming on its member nations for decades, is set to deliver its latest findings today when it releases its assessment report before the media.

Since the IPCC is responsible for creating and developing a significant chunk of the plot in the human drama of global warming, it’s in no position to kill off Climate Change, the story’s main character. But how it will avoid doing that as it attempts to explain its own findings — that “global warming” has been in abeyance since 1998 — should be entertaining enough.

Critics of the climate change agenda don’t expect the ICPP to come clean. Writing for The Telegraph Thursday, James Delingpole explained that global warming careerists have… well, an inconvenient truth on their hands.

Though the details are a secret, one thing is clear: the version of events you will see and hear in much of the media, especially from partis pris organisations like the BBC, will be the opposite of what the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report actually says.

… In truth, though, the new report offers scant consolation to those many alarmists whose careers depend on talking up the threat. It says not that they are winning the war to persuade the world of the case for catastrophic anthropogenic climate change – but that the battle is all but lost.

… [This year’s report is] the first in its history to admit what its critics have said for years: global warming did “pause” unexpectedly in 1998 and shows no sign of resuming. And, other than an ad hoc new theory about the missing heat having been absorbed by the deep ocean, it cannot come up with a convincing explanation why. Coming from a sceptical blog none of this would be surprising. But from the IPCC, it’s dynamite: the equivalent of the Soviet politburo announcing that command economies may not after all be the most efficient way of allocating resources.

… Al Gore’s “consensus” is about to be holed below the water-line – and those still aboard the SS Global Warming are adjusting their positions.

The IPCC’s assessment report is viewed as “the gospel of climate change” by policymakers and elected officials who employ its findings as the moral basis for tinkering with fees, fines, incentives and taxes.

As the member nations involved in compiling this year’s report are fretting over how to spin a dead narrative, there’s one option they should — but won’t — consider: walking manmade climate change back to theory status, and letting it stay there until it demonstrate by reason, and not emotion, that it is fact or fraud.

They’re Kidding, Right? Official Senate Web Page Trashes 2nd Amendment In Novel Interpretation

The host website is www.senate.gov, the official Web presence for the U.S. Senate. If you visit the page and click on the “Reference” tab in the top right-hand corner, you’re taken to a second page that links to a number of jumping-off points for learning about the Nation’s founding documents.

One of those links connects you with a full text copy of the U.S. Constitution, which is presented, in columnar form, alongside an “Explanation” commentary that purports to offer insight on the meaning of each Article and Section, as well as each amendment. Here’s a direct link.

Remember, this is hosted on an official publication of the U.S. Senate, with all the probity that implies.

So scroll down to the “Amendments” section (or simply click on the “Amendments” link at the top of the page to jump directly to the Bill of Rights.

There it is: “Amendment II (1791).” By heart, you know what it says. So what does the Senate’s “explanation” have to say?

“Whether this provision protects the individual’s right to own firearms or whether it deals only with the collective right of the people to arm and maintain a militia has long been debated.”

Makes you want to read through the entire “explanation” column, to see what else the Senate wishes to tell Americans about how government reinterprets its own charter, does it not?

You don’t have to read very far. The very next “explanation,” for the 3rd Amendment, glibly calls the amendment “virtually obsolete” and insinuates it had only transitory value because it arose out of a specific set of circumstances. Does that mean it doesn’t function in 2013, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, in “extending the ground of public confidence in the Government,” as the preamble states?

Perhaps it does to the U.S. Senate — or to whoever has been designated to reimagine the Constitution on its behalf.

420 Million Cigarettes Went ‘Missing’ Following Unauthorized ATF Raids

An internal audit at the U.S. Department of Justice has found that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lost track of $162 million in profits from unauthorized sting operations and misplaced 420 million cigarettes (that’s 21 million packs of smokes.)

The audit finds that ATF agents, on multiple occasions, took it upon themselves to initiate investigations without approval, illegally confiscating cigarettes to perpetuate sting operations by having them resold to unsuspecting targets through informants.

In one instance, “approximately $15 million of cigarettes were sold in an 18-month period, and a confidential informant for the investigation was allowed to keep more than $4.9 million of the $5.2 million of gross profit generated without submitting adequate documentation supporting his expenses,” according to a DOJ spokesman.

In reality, the overall numbers are likely much higher. The DOJ audited only specific time periods and focused only on specific ATF investigations that took place between 2006 and 2011.

New ATF director B. Todd Jones has said the agency has adjusted it internal guidelines since the 2006-2011 period covered by the audit. But, as Time’s Alexander Aciman points out, that “raises the question of why nobody was curious about what the ATF was doing for 5 years.”

According to the Washington Post, an operation comically named “Fast and Furious” that was meant to track gun traffickers selling arms to Mexican drug cartels ended with the ATF having no clue where 2,000 weapons went.  The report managed to pinpoint some of the ATF’s expenses, which included a quarter of a million dollars used to rent a fleet [of] vehicles for which there was no documented justifiable excuse or purpose.

It’s puzzling to see these scandals come to light through internal audits. One has to wonder how corrupt Federal agencies really are, when they come forward with disclosures that only invite questions about how much more they’re getting away with.

The Digital President: Obama, King Of The Phony Twitterverse

Need a little comic relief?

How about the fact that more than half of President Barack Obama’s 37 million Twitter followers don’t exist? According to a recent analysis, Obama stands at the top of a short list of high-profile American politicians (and hangers-on) in having the highest percentage of nonexistent Twitter “followers.”

The top four spots on the Daily Mail’s list of politicians with inflated Twitter stats are all occupied by White House Democrats, but Obama himself holds the only account with a following that’s more than 50 percent fake.

Vice President Joe Biden comes in second to Obama; 46 percent of his half-million Twitter disciples don’t exist. “The White House” is third, at 37 percent, and Michelle Obama is fourth, with 36 percent of her Twitter audience not existing. Organizing For Action runs the Michelle Obama account; the First Lady also has a separate, smaller-scale account as “FLOTUS.” That account fares a bit better, with a fake following of “only” 25 percent.

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) occupies the fifth-place spot on the phony list, with a 33-percent-fake following.

It’s not until the sixth spot, occupied by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), that the percentage of nonexistent followers is eclipsed, for the first time on the list, by “good” (aka “real”) ones. Rubio’s fake following stands at 29 percent of his total audience, while his real followers make up 35 percent. A third category that tallies inactive followers makes up the remaining 36 percent (a figure that varies little for all the other politicians on the list).

Quite a bit farther down come Senate conservatives Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Each has a fake audience that comprises 19 percent of his total Twitter following. Each also has a “real” following that stands at 48 percent.

To be fair to all concerned (including the President), not all the phony Twitter followers can be accounted for by the phenomenon of “buying up” batches of nonexistent user accounts to intentionally pad the numbers.

“There are several reasons why so many followers of a given Twitter account might be considered ‘fake,’” notes the Daily Mail. “In some cases, direct marketers and other spammers follow influential accounts en masse, hoping to be followed in return.”

But:

There is also the possibility that prominent politicians are buying blocks of Twitter followers. Such an accusation was leveled at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.

The digital security company Baccardua Labs told The Guardian that Romney’s surge of new followers at the time were ‘not from a general Twitter population but most likely from a paid Twitter follower service.’

‘Romney’s newest followers could have been paid for by himself, his associates or by his opponents. So far, there is not a feasible way to confirm who is responsible,’ said the report’s author, Jason Ding.

No such report about Obama’s social media accounts was published.

Is it too far-fetched to guess that no report on Obama’s Twitter army ever will reveal how many of his digital foot soldiers are bunko?

Is Lois Lerner Striking An IRS Testimony Deal With Congressional Investigators?

Nothing had been set in stone as of late Wednesday, but it looks as though Lois Lerner, the Washington, D.C.-based Internal Revenue Service official who retired this week in disgrace over the Tea Party discrimination scandal, is attempting through her lawyers to negotiate an immunity deal with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as it pursues its investigation into the scandal’s origins.

Even though Lerner retired Monday after learning an internal review board was poised to recommend she be fired for negligence, she remains under subpoena from the Oversight Committee. Lerner, the former head of the Exempt Organizations division of the IRS, had earlier attempted to invoke her Constitutional right not to incriminate herself before a committee hearing, even as she maintained she had nothing to hide.

A bevy of internal emails, released earlier this month by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), reveal some of Lerner’s 2011 communications with other officials over what to do about Tea Party groups seeking tax exemptions.

You may not have seen or heard about the emails; it’s been 62 days since any of the Big Three TV news networks ran an IRS scandal story. But the fresh batch of Lerner communications completely contradicts her ardent assertions, shortly after the scandal broke, that rogue IRS employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office had taken it upon themselves to bog down the nonprofit exemptions process for the conservative groups.

From a Sept. 12 story in The Daily Caller:

“Tea Party Matter very dangerous… Counsel and Judy Kindell [Lerner’s technical adviser] need to be in on this one… Cincy should probably NOT have these cases,” Lerner said in a February 2011 email, despite the fact that IRS officials initially claimed that the agency’s Cincinnati office was solely responsible for the improper targeting of tea party and conservative groups.

“Perhaps the FEC will save the day,” Lerner said in an email, responding to a complaint the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee registered with the Federal Elections Commission. The IRS and FEC reportedly collaborated on conservative targeting.

“There is increasing and overwhelming evidence that Lois Lerner and high-level IRS employees in Washington were abusing their power to prevent conservative groups from organizing and carrying out their missions. There are still mountains of documents to go through, but it is clear the IRS is out of control and there will be consequences,” Camp said.

Representative Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the ranking minority member on the Ways and Means Committee, has interpreted Lerner’s involvement as bungling but benign. Levin told Tax Analysts Lerner appeared to have been “incompetent in her management of the IRS tax-exempt division and unprofessional in her conduct” and that Republicans’ efforts to selectively leak only a few incriminating emails out of tens of thousands of documents represent a partisan witch hunt.

Why, then, would Lerner (or her wealthy Barack Obama-supporting husband) be paying very good money to top-flight attorneys to strike an immunity deal? Immunity has been on Lerner’s mind from the beginning; she made it clear at the time of her May testimony that Congress could easily hear everything she had to say by simply granting her request to go free, come what may.

No one with a conduit to the public has come forward to divulge Lerner’s present motives for seeking the deal. But it appears Lerner is either:

A) Possessed of a grimly wicked sense of humor; a disgraced and fed-up bureaucrat about to punk the indefatigably dedicated Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the Oversight
committee, with a whole bunch of garbage testimony that will make a farce of the entire investigation and leave Issa embarrassed and bewildered.Or…

B) One very frightened ex-loyalist who realizes she’s become a fall guy; a jilted liberal who’d love to salvage her reputation and deliver Congressional Republicans the magic smoking gun they’ve been seeking that would tie the scandal directly to the Obama Administration.

If Issa strikes a deal, you can bet he’s got his money on the latter. Here are nine reasons why he’s probably right.

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.

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.

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