Low-Information Voters; Low-Information President: Obama Geography Puts Savannah, Charleston, Jacksonville On Gulf Coast

President Barack Obama get plenty of heat for his gaffes and denials on Tuesday’s “Tonight Show” interview with Jay Leno. He told Leno the government doesn’t have a domestic spying program and appeared to insinuate terrorism deaths “unfortunately” haven’t yet surpassed automobile deaths in the U.S.

Obama also heartily embraced improving the Nation’s infrastructure, using the example of deepening several ports to make the U.S. competitive with Latin America. He wants to deepen the ports in places like Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga. And Jacksonville, Fla. – you know, those towns all along the…Gulf of Mexico?!

Here’s the exchange, transcribed by The Blaze:

LENO:  You mentioned infrastructure.  Why is that a partisan issue?  I live in a town, the bridge is falling apart, it’s not safe.  How does that become Republican or Democrat?  How do you not just fix the bridge?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know.  As you know, for the last three years, I’ve said, let’s work together.  Let’s find a financing mechanism and let’s go ahead and fix our bridges, fix our roads, sewer systems, our ports.  ..The Panama [Canal] is being widened so that these big supertankers can come in.  Now, that will be finished in 2015.  If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida — if we don’t do that, those ships are going to go someplace else.  And we’ll lose jobs.  Businesses won’t locate here.

Remember when liberals couldn’t stop talking about Dan Quayle’s potatoe?

Hopefully, if Obama deepens these “Gulf” ports, it will at least be done in a fashion consistent with George W. Bush’s quixotic dream of man coexisting peacefully wish fishkind:

HuffPo: Rangel Should ‘Absolutely Not’ Apologize

Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) raised a big stink last week when he said the Tea Party is the same “white crackers” civil rights activists overcame in the 1960s and said the House GOP is worse than Muslim terrorists.

Your comments on the Rangel story revealed every fallacious permutation of Rangel’s race-baiting, fallacious liberal tactic, highlighting the difference between men like Rangel and his civil rights-era betters – men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – who’d be shamed by the manner in which the censured Congressman continues to fan the flames of a nonexistent race war for political benefit.

Now comes Huffington Post columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson to beat on the racial embers some more, penning an opinion piece this week explaining why Rangel should “absolutely not” apologize for comparing today’s Constitutional conservatives with dead racist Southern Democrats.

The piece is essentially a conjecture exercise in which Hutchinson explains what he thinks would have happened if Tea Party types had been running the show in the 1960s. He also pauses to castigate a couple of examples of Tea Party racism (no mention of Rangel’s own racism, or of other Democrat hypocrite apostates like sexists Anthony Weiner, Elliott Spitzer and Bob Filner).

Here’s the pith:

It requires no leap of imagination to connect the racial dots from the past to the present within the Tea Party ranks. One doesn’t have to shout a racial pejorative at them as Rangel did to figure that if the titanic civil rights bills of the past were on the nation’s legislative table today they’d again rush to the barricades to battle against them. For saying that, Rangel need offer no apology.

Keep fanning the flames, racist parasites. You’re defrauding the very people whom you claim to defend. It’s not like Rangel has much to be sorry for anyway.

Illinois Bill To Pay Businesses That Hire Ex-Cons; Democratic Sponsor Says Felons Are ‘40 Percent’ Of State Population

Over the weekend, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed off on a set of new laws intended to curb the State’s soaring rate of recidivism for ex-felons.

One, sponsored by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins (D-Chicago) and State Representative Arthur Turner (D-Chicago), raises the income tax credit for businesses that hire ex-felons from $600 to a new maximum of $1,500 per employee. Employers can receive the credit for five years, and they are eligible if they hire a qualifying ex-con within three years of release from prison.

While it’s true that well-intentioned ex-cons face tremendous legal and societal hurdles that often make the task of integrating into a fruitful post-prison role monumentally difficult, the trend must be an all-out epidemic in Illinois. CBS Chicago reports that Watkins touted the tax credit by observing it would benefit the State’s 4 million ex-felons; that’s 40 percent of the adult population.

Note from the Editor: Hyperinflation is becoming more visible every day—just notice the next time you shop for groceries. All signs say America’s economic recovery is expected to take a nose dive and before it gets any worse you should read The Uncensored Survivalist. This book contains sensible advice on how to avoid total financial devastation and how to survive on your own if necessary. Click here for your free copy.

“They know they are not going to get a job, they know they can’t get in school, they can’t even volunteer in a children’s school if you have a criminal record,” Watkins said.

An Illinois retail industry advocate told the Chicago Tribune the tax credit “really doesn’t have cost to the state. In fact, it will pay the state back in the long run because these ex-offenders aren’t being hired today.”

RNC Chair To Networks: Axe Hillary Biopics, Or We Won’t Debate On Your Channels For 2016

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is planning to effectively exclude NBC and CNN from hosting the 2016 Presidential primary debates if the two networks go forward with plans to air major productions that commemorate the career of Hillary Clinton.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus released open letters to both networks Monday, claiming the lionizing of an active career politician represents an “in-kind donation” that (further) jeopardizes their journalistic credibility.

The two letters are similar in content, but Priebus amplifies his NBC version with this extra salvo:

There’s ample cause for concern. Executives and employees of Comcast, NBC’s parent company, have been generous supporters of Democrats and Secretary Clinton. David Cohen, Comcast’s EVP, raised over $1.4 million from President Obama’s reelection efforts and hosted a fundraiser for the president. Comcast Corp. employees have donated $522,996 to the president and donated $161,640 to Secretary Clinton’s previous campaigns.

Your company has expressly stated that your choice to air the miniseries in the near future would avoid concerns of running afoul of equal time election laws. This suggests a deliberate attempt at influencing American political opinion in favor of a preferred candidate, not to mention a guilty conscience.

…I find this disturbing and disappointing. NBC cannot purport to be a neutral party in American politics, and the credibility of NBC News, already damaged by the partisanship of MSNBC, will be further undermined by the actions of NBC Universal executives who have taken it upon themselves to produce an extended commercial for Secretary Clinton’s nascent campaign.

NBC has announced it will cast Diane Lane in a miniseries portraying Clinton; CNN has a feature-length Clinton documentary in the works. Clinton herself has remained coy about her 2016 ambitions, though it’s easy to envision a scenario in which she could time her campaign announcements to capitalize on the airing of a national television event in her honor.

Priebus gave the two networks until Aug. 14 to pull the Clinton shows, pledging to call for a binding vote at the RNC’s summer meeting late next week to “neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates with your sponsor.”

Army Loyal To Contractors With Al-Qaida Ties As Embassies Close In Fear Of Al-Qaida

Amid news that 19 U.S. embassies were being shuttered this week, thanks to an alert that Al-Qaida may be mobilizing an attack, comes a report to Congress from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction that condemns the U.S. Army for refusing to drop contracts with people and companies that have been linked to the Al-Qaida supply chain.

Special Inspector General John Sopko said in his report that, despite his recommendation that the Army cut ties with at least 43 contractors – “including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda” – the Army refused in every case.

From the report:

…[C]ontract oversight must become a top priority to policy planners or else we will repeat the mistakes of the past and waste taxpayer money.

…The Army Suspension and Debarment Office appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due process rights if based on classified information or if based on findings by the Department of Commerce.

I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract. I feel such a position is not only legally wrong, it is contrary to good public policy and contrary to our national security goals in Afghanistan. I continue to urge you to change this faulty policy and enforce the rule of common sense in the Army’s suspension and debarment program.

In other words, Sopko has a fundamental problem with the Army going after terrorists while simultaneously propping them up with remunerative contracts for goods and services. So why doesn’t the government?

Fox News reported Monday that Congress has responded to the report by introducing a bill that would restrict U.S. agencies from handing out contracts to companies that support extremists in Afghanistan. The bill also seeks to give the Inspector General the power to suspend such contracts if they fail to meet that requirement.

How National Review Journalist Jillian Melchior Got Three Obamaphones

National Review Franklin Fellow Jillian Kay Melchior published a piece last week detailing how she, a comfortably affluent New Yorker with a white collar job, was able to qualify for three free government-paid cell phones through the Lifeline program – a public service established in the pre-cell phone Reagan era to ensure impoverished or geographically-isolated people could call 911 in the event of emergencies.

Like every other government subsidy President Barack Obama inherited from previous administrations, the Lifeline program has exploded into an entitlement bazaar. “Obamaphones” aren’t supposed to be available to people who don’t qualify for at least one other government welfare subsidy (such as Food Stamps), and they’re limited, in principle at least, to one phone per recipient.

But Melchior explained to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren how, through the abuses of privatized implementation and the ever-sinking welfare threshold under Obama, she was able to receive three Obamaphones – two from the same provider.

Surveillance Monday! FBI Eavesdrops; DOJ Wants iTunes; DEA Dishes Data To LEOs; Obamacare’s Cadillac Tax; Late Night Laughs At Dems – Monday Morning News Roundup 8-5-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

 

  • CNET has learned the FBI has developed custom “port reader” software to intercept Internet metadata in real time. And, in some cases, it wants to force Internet providers to use the software. The government is quietly pressuring telecommunications providers to install the eavesdropping technology deep inside companies’ internal networks to facilitate surveillance efforts. Source: CNET…

 

  • After winning last month an e-books antitrust suit against Apple, the Justice Department on Friday asked a Federal judge to limit Apple’s influence in the publishing market and give the government oversight of the iTunes Store and App Store. Source: The Wall Street Journal… 

 

  • A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the Nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans. Source: Reuters… 

 

  • Cities across the country are pushing municipal unions to accept cheaper health benefits in anticipation of a component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will tax expensive plans starting in 2018. The so-called Cadillac tax was inserted into the law at the advice of economists who argued that expensive health insurance with the employee bearing little cost made people insensitive to the cost of care. Source: The New York Times… 

 

  • A study of gags by late-night comics during the first half of the year found an abrupt change from 2012. Now President Barack Obama and Democrats are providing the lion’s share of punchlines. Source: Fox News… 

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Record Number Of Young Adults Living With Parents

A Pew study released late last week reveals more young adults — 21.6 million — are living at home with their parents than at any time in America’s history.

Perhaps that’s to be expected, since the Nation’s overall population continues, gradually, to grow. But the study also found that a higher proportion of the young adult population is living back at home than at any time immediately before, during or after the 2008 recession.

In fact, the 36 percent of young “millennials” living with parents represents the highest ratio in more than 40 years, when the culture of the nuclear family in the United States was far more dominant. Live-at-home data reaching farther into the past than 1968 doesn’t exist, so there’s no way to know if today’s statistics reflect a true all-time high for the Nation.

The study, which analyzed information drawn from a March follow-up survey augmenting the 2010 census, found that 32 percent of millennial adults lived with parents in 2007. That’s a number that had remained relatively consistent since 1968.

By the “official” end of the recession in 2009, the number had risen to 34 percent. In 2012, despite repeated chirpy proclamations from the White House that the economy is in recovery mode, the number had climbed past 36 percent.

The economy heads a list of three key factors the Pew researchers credit for fueling the “crash-with-mom” trend.

The steady rise in the share of young adults who live in their parents’ home appears to be driven by a combination of economic, educational and cultural factors. Among them:

  • Declining employment. In 2012, 63% of 18- to 31-year-olds had jobs, down from the 70% of their same-aged counterparts who had jobs in 2007. In 2012, unemployed Millennials were much more likely than employed Millennials to be living with their parents (45% versus 29%).
  • Rising college enrollment. In March 2012, 39% of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college, up from 35% in March 2007. Among 18 to 24 year olds, those enrolled in college were much more likely than those not in college to be living at home – 66% versus 50%.
  • Declining marriage. In 2012 just 25% of Millennials were married, down from the 30% of 18- to 31-year-olds who were married in 2007. Today’s unmarried Millennials are much more likely than married Millennials to be living with their parents (47% versus 3%).

Comparing today’s family demographic trends with those of 1968 also revealed that singles with children and cohabitation between unmarried partners are both way up (from 5.5 percent to 26 percent), and the number of married spouses sharing a home is way down (from 56 percent to 27 percent).

See the survey overview here. The full report is here.

Bail Out Detroit? Democrats: Maybe; Rest Of America: NO!

A Quinnipiac poll shows no decisive public will, even among Democrats, to involve the Federal government in whatever rescue operation may be deployed to dredge the ashes of Detroit for an economic bailout.

Only 51 percent of Democrats polled said they support a taxpayer-funded bailout, funneled through Washington, D.C., for Detroit, which is seeking bankruptcy protection over the opposition of State pensioners whose retirement funds could be decimated by court-approved write-offs of public debt.

By contrast, 73 percent of Republicans said they oppose any form of Federal bailout. And the majority opinion of Americans, regardless of their political views, is on the same side. Only 33 percent of all Americans polled said they support a government safety net for Detroit, while 57 percent said they were opposed.

The poll, which questioned 1,468 voters late last month on a number of current topics ranging from the Detroit bailout to “Stand Your Ground” laws to Congress and President
Barack Obama, showed a strong divide among various racial demographics on the extent to which the government should get involved in structuring a rescue plan for the Motor City.

With large racial and gender divisions, American voters back so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws 53 – 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Voters also say by a wide margin that the federal government should not bail out Detroit.

…Partisan and racial splits also mark American voters’ 57 – 33 percent opposition to a federal bailout of bankrupt Detroit.

Democrats back a bailout 51 – 35 percent, while opposition is 73 – 18 percent among Republicans and 65 – 28 percent among independent voters. Black voters support a bailout 57 – 36 percent, with white voters opposed 63 – 26 percent.

Once the Nation’s fourth-largest city, Detroit’s population peaked in the 1950s at more than 1.8 million. The city has lost more than 1 million residents in a gradual decline that accelerated most rapidly from 2000 to 2010, eroding its tax base and leaving behind a sprawling and expensive infrastructure to maintain. Detroit’s current population hovers slightly above 700,000.

Unrelated footnote: The Quinnipiac poll also reveals that racial demographics invert respondents’ opinions about “Stand Your Ground” laws. Whites favor “Stand Your Ground” protections for would-be crime victims by a 57 percent to 37 percent margin. Blacks, on the other hand, oppose such laws by exactly the same margin.

Stave Off Hackers With Passphrases

Vehement capitalist blogger Lew Rockwell has a tip for people concerned about the security of the passwords they use to access their protected information online: ditch passwords altogether in favor of passphrases.

What’s a passphrase? A “password” composed of words and symbols that, taken together, form a phrase that you’ll remember – but that can take a heck of a long time for hackers to crack.

An online security company, Silent Circle, has a website that, while soliciting subscriptions for its services, nevertheless allows you to test the relative security of any password or passphrase you create without having to buy anything.

A caution, if you do want to test the strength of a made-up password on the Silent Circle site: by all means, don’t type in a password that protects any of your current accounts. Make up one you have no intention of using, just to suss out what makes passphrases easier or harder to crack – and then get off the website and create a different, “real” passphrase that employs the same security-tightening measures.

Also, Rockwell points out that this sort of passphrase protection isn’t likely to guard against the spying eyes of the NSA or other American data surveillance programs (both known and unknown). Rather, use it to protect your information from conventional hackers. If you want to improve your chances of dodging the NSA – at least so far as email is concerned – consider email hosts that are based outside the U.S. and don’t have servers tied into the NSA dragnet.

“Bottom Line,” writes Rockwell: “Consider an offshore email, but definitely make your passwords longer by using a passphrase rather than a shorter but ‘harder’ password. Most sites will allow you to enter very long passphrases. Think of the minor investment in time versus the risk of identity theft, account takeover, and the extra time and resources for the government to snoop on you.”

 

Rangel: Tea Party The Same ‘White Crackers’ We Fought In The 1960s

Add Representative Charlie Rangel to the brood of race-baiters in the Congressional Black Caucus trying their damnedest to establish an imaginary link between Tea Party conservatism and the racism of the losers (many of them Southern Democrats) who persecuted blacks and their allies during America’s civil rights era.

Talking to The Daily Beast, Rangel (D-N.Y.) followed the precedent set by fellow CBC lumen Sheila Jackson Lee in 2010, freely using the “white crackers” epithet in an endeavor to not-so-constructively reopen the hateful wounds of racism that men like Martin Luther King Jr. sacrificed their lives to heal.

Admitting, at least, that the Tea Party strain of Constitutional activism is a threat to Democrats, Rangel said:

It is the same group we faced in the South with those white crackers and the dogs and the police. They didn’t care about how they looked. It was just fierce indifference to human life that caused America to say enough is enough. ‘I don’t want to see it and I am not a part of it.’ What the hell! If you have to bomb little kids and send dogs out against human beings, give me a break.

What Rangel’s reverie on the cruelties of dead Southern Democrats has to do with the Tea Party is anyone’s guess. He rests his case on “It is the same group” before falling into an emotional commentary on worthless people.

Are we to judge our elected leaders by the content of their character?

Imagine King deploying a term like “white crackers” to interject race, as a divisive ad hominem wedge, into an argument that otherwise wouldn’t involve race at all. Tall order, huh?

Rangel isn’t carrying the flag of American racial equality that King hoisted; he’s burning it.

Watch: Acting IRS Commissioner Says He Doesn’t Want To Switch To An Obamacare Health Plan

Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Daniel Werfel briefed the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday on the agency’s role in implementing and enforcing participation in Obamacare, which is set to start rolling out Oct. 1.

The temporary Obama appointee found it difficult to get through the session without staring down some hard questions from Republicans already opposed to the law. But, to his credit, Werfel allowed himself an extraordinary measure of candor when committee member Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) asked him this:

Mr. Werfel, last week your employees who are a member of the National Treasury Employee’s Union sent a form letter for union members to send in to ask they be exempt from the exchanges. Why are your employees trying to exempt themselves from the very law that you’re tasked to enforce?


 
For those who don’t watch the video, the upshot is Werfel telling Johnson: “I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I’m pleased with rather than go through a change if I don’t need to go through that change.”

Werfel’s response was astonishing for its honesty. He did attempt to justify the exempting of Federal employees by explaining that, with their comfortable benefit package, they aren’t ideal candidates for what Obamacare is selling. But that only serves to illustrate the chasm that separates the quality and cost of currently available health coverage from the government-subsidized, wealth-redistributing plans mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In a related note, Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner made an emergency request on Wednesday to postpone the start of Obamacare health exchanges in the State, as leaders try to figure out how to reconfigure new health plans under the program that won’t jack rates by 198 percent.

City Ponders Eminent Domain To Justify Mass Buy Of Underwater Home Mortgages

In a bizarre interpretation of State eminent domain law, a California Bay-Area city is considering the power of eminent domain to rescue more than 600 homeowners from delinquent mortgages.

The city would accomplish this new brand of government-subsidized housing by seizing the properties from secondary lenders, many of whom have cheaply bought off the underwater mortgages from major banks resigned to offload the original homeowners’ loans at a loss. The city would then pay the secondary lenders “a fair market value” and resell the homes back to their original occupants at current market prices, which in 2013 are far below the homes’ market values at the time of their pre-housing-bubble financing and construction.

Among the many things that aren’t clear is whether the “fair market value” the city intends to pay the lenders directly corresponds to the current market price the city would charge (with interest, no doubt) the delinquent occupants to remain in their homes.

If the plan is successful, Richmond, a city long controlled by a succession of Democratic mayors and council members, would become the first municipality in the United States to use the power of eminent domain in such fashion. But other cities are expressing interest in the idea.

Nearly half of Richmond’s home mortgages are underwater. Many of the houses are now valued at less than half what their owners, who financed their homes at the height of California’s easy-lending housing craze, are having to pay.

The eminent domain move has infuriated banks and secondary lenders, with many industry advocates warning that no bank on Earth would re-enter the housing market in a city with leaders willing to pull the trigger and force lenders to take a financial hit on properties whose owners stopped paying.

Family Innocently Googles ‘Pressure Cooker’ And ‘Backpack’ – Cops Show Up

A Long Island writer needed a new pressure cooker and wanted to compare brands. Internet, right? Her husband, meanwhile, wanted a new backpack and decided to do a little online shopping. The couple’s 20 year-old son, meanwhile, had avidly kept up with the news coverage of the Boston Marathon terror attack. He’s a news junkie; a child of the Digital Age, so he got his news from the internet.

“This was weeks ago,” blogged pressure cooker-shopper Michele Catalano Thursday. “I don’t know what took them so long to get here. Maybe they were waiting for some other devious Google search to show up but ‘what the hell do I do with quinoa’ and ‘Is A-Rod suspended yet’ didn’t fit into the equation so they just moved in based on those older searches. I was at work when it happened. My husband called me as soon as it was over, almost laughing about it but I wasn’t joining in the laughter. His call left me shaken and anxious.”

Why was she so distressed? Because six cops identifying themselves as part of a “joint terrorism task force” showed up at her house. They wanted to know about her husband’s ancestry. If they’d ever looked up instructions on how to make a pressure cooker bomb. If they had a bomb. If they had a pressure cooker. They asked to search the house.

Since Catalano and her family are all “U.S. Persons” and aren’t subject to the FISA laws enabling the Feds to surveil people they’re 51 percent sure might be foreign-born terrorists, it’s an open question how the officers (legally) came to know the family’s internet habits.

Various news agencies late Thursday still hadn’t been able to determine which law enforcement agencies supplied officers for the would-be terror raid.

 

Cruz Calls On Conservatives To Stand On Principle – Even If They Go Down Swinging

There’s a lot of news going on today, so pointing everyone to a lengthy, reflective interview in which a freshman Senator looks back on his first seven months in office might seem counterintuitive.

But Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has more worth saying in his sit-down with Rare’s Brett Decker than you likely heard if you spent all week poring over the words of NSA heads, IRS commissioners or a bevy of Congressmen jockeying for political capital before they go home to their angry constituents for August recess.

There’s more than one takeaway from Cruz’ impassioned, optimistic call for conservatives not to water down their principles, but two of his comments stand out:

In my view, Republicans lost in 2012 and 2008 because they tried not to lose and painted not with bold colors but pale pastels. I think we do best when we present a clear contrast with the Democrats: “First you win the argument, then you win the vote,” as Margaret Thatcher used to say.

…Every domestic policy that we think about or talk about should focus like a laser on opportunity – on easing the means of ascent up the economic ladder. We should look with a Rawlsian lens at how every policy impacts the most vulnerable among us, on how it impacts those struggling to achieve the American Dream.

Be clear; Be brave; Be uncompromising. That’s a message conservatives can get behind.

Then there’s this:

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I think Republicans win when we stand for clear principles and draw strong contrasts with the other party. If we make clear that Republicans are fighting for jobs and to protect high-quality health care against Democrats wedded to an ideological dream of government-controlled healthcare, I think we will win. But the only way this happens is if a massive grassroots army makes its voice heard, and demands of our elected officials that they stand up and fight. I think “We the People” should hold every politician – including me – accountable, and that’s how we can win fights that are otherwise impossible.

Don’t dilute your views. Stand and fight, even if you lose, for what you believe is right – not for the scraps you believe you can win through endless, character-eroding compromises. Go down swinging.

In short, be an American.

Read the entire piece at Rare.

Sign the Cruz-sponsored petition for Congress to defund Obamacare at www.dontfundobamacare.com .

Snowden Leaves The Transit Area; Rand Stands Down In Tiff With Christie; Computer Guys Heckle NSA Head; Eminent Domain To Bail Out Mortgages?!; Cruz Wants A High-Contrast GOP – Thursday Morning News Roundup 8-1-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

 

  • NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is allowed to enter the country’s territory. He is free to stay in Russia until at least July 31, 2014. His asylum status may be extended annually upon request. Source: Russia Today…

 

  • Sen. Rand Paul (R) on Wednesday cried uncle in his feud with Chris Christie (R), inviting the New Jersey governor for a beer to patch up their differences. The Kentucky senator told Fox News that “anytime [Christie] would like to come down and sit down at the pub right around the corner from the Senate we’ll have a beer.” Christie spurned Paul’s overture. Source: The Hill…

 

  • The head of the U.S. National Security Agency defended the government’s much-criticized surveillance program against hecklers among a crowd of computer systems analysts Wednesday, but also had a challenge for them: If you don’t like it, lend your talent to build a better one. Source: CBS Las Vegas…

 

  • A California city is the first in the Nation to take the controversial step of threatening to use eminent domain, the power to take private property for public use, in an effort to buy 600 underwater mortgages and head off a foreclosure crisis. Sorta gives new meaning to “government housing.” Source: CBS San Francisco…

 

  • Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) continues to gain momentum in the fight to defund Obamacare this Fall, staking a well-defined territory where Congressional Republicans can, if they choose, stand on principle. “I think Republicans win when we stand for clear principles and draw strong contrasts with the other party. If we make clear that Republicans are fighting for jobs and to protect high-quality health care against Democrats wedded to an ideological dream of government-controlled healthcare, I think we will win,” he said in an interview Wednesday. Source: Rare…

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Police Don’t Need A Warrant To Find Out Where You — And Your Cellphone — Go

A Federal appeals court in Texas has ruled that law enforcement can obtain from cellphone service providers the geolocation data that pinpoints the physical movements of individual users over time without first obtaining a search warrant.

The ruling, handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, drew immediate condemnation from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The 5th Circuit holds jurisdiction over appeals cases originating in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Tuesday’s ruling was meant to clarify whether the 4th Amendment protects warrantless people-tracking based on data held privately by companies paid to provide a service to private individuals. In a 2-1 ruling, the Court found that such searches by law enforcement weren’t “per se unconstitutional” since the data was “clearly a business record” and, therefore, doesn’t fall under 4th Amendment protection.

Note from the Editor: Under the Obama Administration, the NSA, the IRS, and the State and Justice departments are blatantly stepping on Americans’ privacy—and these are just the breaches we’re aware of. I’ve arranged for readers to get a free copy of The Ultimate Privacy Guide so you can be protected from any form of surveillance by anyone—government, corporate or criminal. Click here for your free copy.

The ACLU condemned that perverse interpretation in a long rebuttal, released the day of the ruling. Here’s a portion:

It has long been our position that the government must obtain a warrant based on probable cause before engaging in surveillance of people’s historical cell phone location information. Today, our efforts were dealt a setback. Over a strong dissent, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy over their location data. According to the court, law enforcement agents do not need to obtain a warrant to get this information, ruling instead that a less protective standard suffices.

This ruling is troubling because, as we and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argued, only a warrant standard fully protects Americans’ privacy interests in their locations and movements over time. Cell phone companies store records on where each of us have been, often stretching back for years. That location information is sensitive and can reveal a great deal — what doctors people visit, where they spend the night, who their friends are, and where they worship. Given the sensitivity of these facts, law enforcement agents should have to demonstrate to a judge that they have a good reason to believe that they will turn up evidence of wrongdoing before gaining access to information that can paint a detailed picture of where a person has been over time.

The Fifth Circuit did not accept this argument. It concludes that because historical cell phone location records are the business records of cell phone companies, individuals can have no reasonable expectation of privacy in them — and therefore no Fourth Amendment protections.

…This reasoning, generally referred to has the “third-party doctrine” (according to which you don’t have a privacy expectation in any information turned over to a third party), was developed decades ago, long before cell phones were common, the use email was widespread, or the general public had heard of the Internet. It’s not compatible with the ease with which digital technologies collect data about each of us today.

Indeed, cellphone companies easily track and store data on where you’ve been with your phone. A 2010 petition organized by the ACLU yielded an information sheet from the U.S. Department of Justice revealing that Verizon holds onto such information for one “rolling” year, while Sprint hangs onto users’ geolocation data for 18 to 24 months.

“There is no cell phone company that doesn’t retain historical cell site location data, or even one that keeps it only for a short time. And anyway, our Fourth Amendment rights should not depend on the largesse of for-profit corporations,” the civil liberties watchdog concluded.

Mishandling The Immigration Reform Debate: A Roundup

In the early going, the omnibus immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in June looked as though it would be killed off by a GOP-led House effort at toning down the ambition; making a series of smaller, piecemeal changes; and setting aside the real elephant in the room — amnesty — for a separate final battle.

In other words, it appeared as though the GOP might actually have something meaningful to offer on immigration reform.

Fast forward to August, when the idealism has mostly faded.

In the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is poised to stall deliberation on immigration reform until after the August recess — mainly in an attempt to avoid angry constituent confrontations while on break. The tactical delay also keeps House GOP leaders from taking a stand, which effectively gives their Democratic adversaries no GOP policies to criticize. From Wednesday’s National Journal:

But far from a failure of leadership, top House Republicans are casting the inaction as a tactical play designed to boost reform’s chances.

Keeping immigration on the back-burner helps avoid a recess filled with angry town-hall meetings reminiscent of the heated August 2009 protests where the backlash against health care reform coalesced. Doing nothing also starves Democrats of a target, Republicans argue.

… Boehner, Cantor, and McCarthy have privately discussed holding off on immigration until October. (September has only nine legislative days that will be jammed with fiscal negotiations as House Republicans and Senate Democrats scramble to fund the government after the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.) The August break gives Republicans time to chart a course on immigration ahead of a packed fall schedule that leaves little time for strategizing.

On the Senate side, we have Senator John “Gang of Eight” McCain (R-Ariz.) engaged in back-room machinations to defang the border security apparatus. The sine qua non border security provision that helped the Senate bill garner enough crossover Republican votes won’t survive the House-Senate “compromise” bill that comes up in the fall. From POLITICO on Tuesday:

During an immigration forum hosted by the AFL-CIO Tuesday, McCain — a key Senate Gang of Eight negotiator — said while a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s undocumented immigrants is a “fundamental element” of the bill, the “rest of it could be adjusted.” He singled out the border security parts as an example.

“We don’t need 20,000 additional border patrol agents,” McCain said Tuesday. “But what we do need is use of technology that has been developed where we can survey the border more effectively.”

The border-security provisions in the Gang of Eight bill, written by Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, would set aside more than $46 billion to double the number of border patrol agents along the southwestern U.S. boundary, add new surveillance technology and to complete the 700-mile border fence.

Corker and Hoeven drafted their amendment in the final days of the Senate immigration debate, and it was critical to luring several wavering Republican and Democratic senators on board with the overall bill.

“I voted for it so friends of mine would be comfortable that we are securing the border,” McCain said Tuesday. “But the real securing of the border is with technology, as opposed to individuals.”

Read into that what you will.

And, hanging like a Sword of Damocles over both chambers is the GOP’s donor class, whose money is on amnesty. Dozens of top donors and legacy officials from the George W. Bush era are pushing Congressional Republicans to grant amnesty wholesale. The Washington Times revealed Tuesday that donors see amnesty as a gateway to including “potential Republican voters” — a tactic borrowed straight from President Barack Obama’s own political playbook.

Nearly a hundred top Republican donors and Bush administration officials sent a letter to the House GOP on Tuesday urging lawmakers to pass a bill that legalizes illegal immigrants, arguing that the current system is already allowing them to stay and so it makes sense to register them and bring them into the system.

The donors, led by former Bush administration Cabinet officials Carlos Gutierrez and Spencer Abraham, also said that immigrants are potential Republican voters who can be won over — if the party can be seen as welcoming to immigrants.

“Doing nothing is de facto amnesty. We need to take control of whom we let in our country and we need to make sure everybody plays by the same rules,” the donors said in their letter.

In the midst of it all came a separate story in The Washington Times Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security (how did we live without it before 2001?) can’t find more than 1 million immigrants who’ve overstayed their visas in the United States. One of those turned out to be the crazy homeless lady from China who was caught this week defacing Washington, D.C. landmarks with green paint. Clearly, our immigration enforcement system is already plenty airtight; so there’s no getting the cart before the horse by granting amnesty now to 11 million more people. Clearly.

The Homeland Security Department has lost track of more than 1 million people who it knows arrived in the U.S. but who it cannot prove left the country, according to an audit Tuesday that also found the department probably won’t meet its own goals for deploying an entry-exit system.

The findings were revealed as Congress debates an immigration bill, and the Government Accountability Office’s report could throw up another hurdle because lawmakers in the House and Senate have said that any final deal must include a workable system to track entries and exits and cut down on so-called visa overstays.

The government does track arrivals, but is years overdue in setting up a system to track departures — a goal set in a 1996 immigration law and reaffirmed in 2004, but which has eluded Republican and Democratic administrations.

“DHS has not yet fulfilled the 2004 statutory requirement to implement a biometric exit capability, but has planning efforts under way to report to Congress in time for the fiscal year 2016 budget cycle on the costs and benefits of such a capability at airports and seaports,” GAO investigators wrote.

Chattonooga Newspaper Editorial Snatches The Welcome Mat Out From Under Obama Jobs Visit

“Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough.”

That was the headline that ran above a scathing editorial in Tuesday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press greeting President Barack Obama, who arrived hours later to deliver his “grand bargain” jobs proposal that would offer tax cuts to corporations and shell out more government subsidies for jobs programs.

Never mind that the proposed corporate tax cut — from 35 percent to 28 percent — far undercuts the 39.6 maximum that small business owners, the backbone of Obama’s ostensibly dear middle class, can pay under his policies.

Without waiting for the President to lay out his new ideas later in the day, the Free Press held no quarter with Obama’s past attempts at “stimulating” the economy:

President Obama,

Welcome to Chattanooga, one of hundreds of cities throughout this great nation struggling to succeed in spite of your foolish policies that limit job creation, stifle economic growth and suffocate the entrepreneurial spirit.

Forgive us if you are not greeted with the same level of Southern hospitality that our area usually bestows on its distinguished guests. You see, we understand you are in town to share your umpteenth different job creation plan during your time in office. If it works as well as your other job creation programs, then thanks, but no thanks. We’d prefer you keep it to yourself.

That’s because your jobs creation plans so far have included a ridiculous government spending spree and punitive tax increase on job creators that were passed, as well as a minimum wage increase that, thankfully, was not. Economists — and regular folks with a basic understanding of math — understand that these are three of the most damaging policies imaginable when a country is mired in unemployment and starving for job growth.

Even though 64 percent of Chattanooga respondents said they would rather you hadn’t chosen to visit our fair city, according to a survey on the Times Free Press website, it’s probably good that you’re here. It will give you an opportunity to see the failure of your most comprehensive jobs plan to date, the disastrous stimulus scheme, up close and personal.

…So excuse us, Mr. President, for our lack of enthusiasm for your new jobs program. Here in Chattanooga we’re still reeling from your old one.

Read the entire piece here.

McCain’s Border ‘Compromise’; Univision Sweeps Nielsens; DHS Loses A Million Immigrants; Declassified NSA Docs; China’s ‘People’s War’ – Wednesday Morning News Roundup 7-31-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

 

  • Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) signaled Tuesday that the dramatic boost in border-security in the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill could be one of the provisions that may be changed in a potential House-Senate compromise. “We don’t need 20,000 additional border patrol agents,” McCain said. Source: POLITICO…

 

  • Univision ranked No. 1 among all networks in the adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 demographics during the July sweep period (June 26-July 24), according to Nielsen, a first for the Spanish-language titan in any sweep period. Source: Variety… 

 

  • The Homeland Security Department has lost track of more than 1 million people who it knows arrived in the U.S. but who it cannot prove left the country, according to an audit Tuesday that also found the department probably won’t meet its own goals for deploying an entry-exit system. Source: The Washington Times… 

 

  • The U.S. Director of National Intelligence released three declassified documents on Wednesday that authorized the bulk collection of telephone data, one of the surveillance programs revealed by former security contractor Edward Snowden. Source: Reuters… 

 

  • China’s military is preparing for war in cyberspace involving space attacks on satellites and the use of both military and civilian personnel for a digital “people’s war,” according to an internal Chinese defense report. Source: The Washington Free Beacon… 

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Congressional Black Caucus Wants Sheila Jackson Lee To Replace Big Sis

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has written to President Barack Obama urging him to consider Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) as the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, replacing Janet Napolitano, who left the position to accept an offer to lead the State university system in California.

Lee, who’s been in Congress since 1995 and continues to serve as a whip for the CBC, was evidently the organization’s second choice for a recommendation from among its own members. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) spurned the group’s effort to elevate him for the coveted big-government nomination.

Lee has a history of ignorance, belligerence and racially divisive, sensational public speech. She once asked if the Mars Pathfinder had taken a picture of the flag planted on the Red Planet by Neil Armstrong. She’s advocated for selling F-16 fighter jets and their components to Venezuela. In 2010, she told an NAACP audience that the Tea Party and the Ku Klux Klan were one and the same. Here in the 21st century, she thinks there’s a North Vietnam and a South Vietnam. She thinks “lily white” hurricane names are racist.

The CBC’s letter touts Lee’s deep understanding of immigration enforcement and her long resume of committee membership:

Representative Jackson Lee would serve as an effective DHS Secretary because she understands the importance of increasing border security and maintaining homeland security.

Since entering Congress in 1995, Jackson Lee has served on several committees, including Foreign Affairs, Judiciary and Homeland Security, in which she was the Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection.

…As Chairwoman, Representative Jackson Lee supported increased airplane cargo inspections and increased security for railroads, issues of great importance to the security of this nation and its citizens.

Jackson Lee currently holds the post of Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, a position that the CBC says she “stands as a strong and honest ‘voice of reason

President Barack Obama has insinuated that he’d welcome interest from New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for the DHS Secretary position. The White House had not responded late Tuesday to the CBC’s suggested alternative.

Study: Most On Disability Can Work, Don’t Want To

In 2009, the Social Security Administration (SSA) put together a study intended to gauge the character traits, behaviors and tendencies of people who were receiving Federal disability checks. Although the study was a matter of public record, it wasn’t intended to communicate its findings to the public — only to academics and policymakers.

The Washington Examiner recently analyzed the raw data from that study, going through the individual responses of 2,300 respondents — each of whom was on Federal disability in 2009.

What the newspaper found was at the same time both predictable and, in a disgusting way, shocking:

Recipients of federal disability checks often admit that they are capable of working but cannot or will not find a job, that those closest to them tell them they should be working, and that working to get off the disability rolls is not among their goals.

And even though many of the Nation’s 11 million SSDI (earned disability) enrollees, along with 7 million SSI (unearned disability) recipients, cite medical reasons for getting and remaining on disability, most of them reported that they had never received any kind of medical treatment for their stated illness and that they hadn’t been to a doctor for any reason related to their condition in more than a year.

Among many more details, the survey demonstrated:

  • 71 percent of SSDI recipients — those who’ve paid some money in to Social Security through payroll deductions from previous jobs — said they aren’t looking to return to work; 60 percent of SSI recipients — those who haven’t ever had a payroll deduction (and, in all likelihood, a job) — said they have no interest in finding work.
  • 75 percent of the SSDI recipients said they aren’t likely to go back to work within five years; 65 percent of the SSI recipients said the same thing.
  • 87 percent of SSDI recipients admitted they don’t want to look for employment because they don’t want to lose their disability check — not because of the disability that’s allegedly preventing them from working in the first place; 81 percent of SSI recipients said the same thing.
  • Of those few SSDI beneficiaries who did attempt to find a job while receiving disability benefits, 72 percent said they were paid under the table; 70 percent of SSI recipients said the same thing.

Have you ever known someone who’s milking the system in similar fashion? Most of us have witnessed it firsthand at least once in our working lives.

Are you legitimately disabled and have a story to share about freeloaders you’ve seen who are able to work, but continue to receive the same (or greater) benefits that you receive? Sound off in the comments.

Cruz: End Obamacare Before President’s Delaying Tactic Makes Repeal Impossible

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is sounding an alarm over President Barack Obama’s real intentions in delaying the tiered implementation of his signature first-term accomplishment – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In a Breitbart interview, Cruz cautions that Obamacare will soon be inextricably rooted in America’s bureaucratic structure – if the President continues to stagger portions of its implementation while Congressional Republicans sit on the sidelines.

“It is why, hand in hand with delaying the employer mandate for big corporations, the Obama administration announced it wasn’t going to enforce the eligibility requirements for the subsidies,” he said. “It’s essentially encouraging liar loans; encouraging fraud for people who come forward and say, ‘I qualify for a subsidy,’ and the Obama administration saying, ‘we’re not going to check on anything, we’re just going to take your word for it and grant you the subsidy.’ That is all Chicago-style politics designed to buy as many votes as possible. It is why the fight is now or never.”

According to Cruz, defunding Obamacare as Congress begins its evergreen fight over government spending this September represents the best opportunity opponents will have to ensure the law never gets out of the starting gate – because once it does, he argues, it’ll never be reined in.

“Right now is, in my view, our single best opportunity to defeat Obamacare and it may well be out last opportunity,” he told conservative radio host Dana Loesch Monday. “We have our best opportunity to do so on September 30th; the continuing resolution which funds the federal government it expires on September 30th and that’s the best opportunity…

“The Obama Administration’s plan is to get to January 1st. Because on Jan 1st, the exchanges start; the subsidies start. And their plan is to get everyone addicted to the sugar, addicted to the subsidies and look, in the modern age, there has been no major entitlement plan that’s been enacted that’s ever been repealed. So this is our last chance to take on Obamacare. And every one of those Republicans who says ‘let’s not fight on the continuing resolution’ – what they’re really saying is ‘we should surrender to Obamacare being a permanent feature of our economy.’”