Obama’s Middle Class ‘Grand Bargain’; California’s Hispanic GOP; More Benghazi Testimony; D.C. Vandal Just A Homeless Lady; A Victory For The Stars And Stripes – Tuesday Morning News Roundup 7-30-2013

  • President Barack Obama will propose a “grand bargain for middle-class jobs” on Tuesday that would cut the U.S. corporate tax rate and use billions in revenues generated by a business tax overhaul to fund projects aimed at creating jobs. Source: Reuters… 

 

  • Cherry farmer and cattle rancher Andy Vidak said he captured his newly-won California Senate seat in last week’s runoff vote by connecting with Hispanic voters with a “common-sense” approach that focused on job creation, affordable energy and opposition to big government. Now, a new kind of GOP leadership suddenly is thinking about making major inroads in California, and they are not embarrassed to say so aloud. Source: The Washington Times… 

 

  • Congress will hear eagerly awaited testimony Wednesday on the Benghazi, Libya, terror attack from a special operations task force commander who is set to retire the next day. Source: The Hill 

 

  • The short national nightmare of vandalism that marred several Washington, D.C. memorials and landmarks has likely come to an end. In a strangely comforting outcome, the culprit appears to be a fairly garden-variety crazy homeless woman with no extremist manifesto or major geopolitical ambitions. More Surveillance! Source: The Daily Caller…

 

  • An injured veteran of the war in Afghanistan who was told to take down the American flag she has flying from the balcony of her apartment is now being told it can stay. Jen Elliot was shocked when she found a notice from property management on her door last week, asking her to remove the flag from her balcony, along with some other items. Public backlash won the day. Source: CBS Sacramento… 

 

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Police Kill 95-Year-Old Nursing Home Resident With Taser, Bean Bag Shot

A 95-year-old resident of a Chicago-area assisted-living nursing home was killed after police attempted to subdue him Friday with a Taser and bean bag rounds shot from a gun.

According to a press release issued by the police department in Park Forest, Ill., officers were called to assist with subduing 95-year-old John Warna, allegedly combative because he did not want to be restrained and forced to undergo an “involuntary” medical procedure at the Victory Centre of Park Forest, the assisted-living facility where he resided.

Warna allegedly had held the medical staff at bay with a long shoehorn and a walking cane. When police arrived, he allegedly dropped the shoehorn and picked up a 12-inch kitchen knife.

After resisting the cops’ demands that he put down the knife and cane and surrender for his treatment, Warna was shot with a Taser, but apparently he remained undeterred. So the cops fired bean bag rounds at Warna, which indeed forced him to drop the knife. He was taken into custody and transported to an Oak Lawn hospital, and remained responsive in the immediate aftermath of the ordeal.

However, he died early Saturday from stomach bleeding. The Cook County medical examiner’s office attributed the bleeding to “blunt force trauma” to his midsection caused by the bean bag shots. The examiner ruled the man’s death a homicide.

Bean bag rounds are made of lead shot, which is encased in a fabric bag. They can be fired from a traditional shotgun, and, like Tasers, are used to immobilize noncompliant suspects. Fired at close range, bean bag rounds typically cause traumatic injuries, such as broken ribs and internal bleeding.

Nursing home staff said Warna had not been an unruly resident before Friday’s incident.

The Park Forest Police Department is reviewing the incident. Other than the press release, which was emailed to The Chicago Tribune, there has been no other official statement from Park Forest Police Chief Clifford Butz. The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit is also reviewing the case.

Congress Moving To Kill Citizen Journalism

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling on Congress (and voters who elect Senators and Congressmen) to back off a pair of bills that take direct aim at the freedoms of bloggers, independent journalists and small media outlets to gain access to information while protecting their sources.

Introduced in May, the pair of bills (H.R. 1962 and S.B. 987) attempt to define who “journalists” are in such a way that favors the mainstream media while excluding just about everybody else. That’s accomplished with the phrase “covered person,” which the legislation goes on to define as someone who makes his living from researching and reporting the news or who regularly researches and reports news.

The problem with that, says EFF, is that the legislation seeks to endorse a professional class of journalists — ironically so, since the professional class of journalists is often most ineffectual, as industry maverick Gay Talese once observed. Why can’t Congress just do the Constitutional thing and submit to the idea that anyone, at any time, can be a “journalist?” If today’s lawmakers just have to fill their time in Washington by drafting more legislation, why can’t they at least do a little less harm by simply defining the practice of journalism instead of the person engaged in it?

If these bills–support for which the White House reaffirmed in its DOJ report–pass without change, Congress effectively will create two tiers of journalists: the institutional press licensed by the government, and everyone else. That’s a pretty flimsy shield if what we are really trying to protect is the free flow of information.

…So what’s the solution? Congress should link shield law protections to the practice of journalism as opposed to the profession. Not only does this fix ensure that bloggers and freelancers are not categorically denied access to the protections to which they should be entitled under the law, but also it addresses lawmakers’ concerns, recently voiced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in a June 26 op-ed, that in the absence of a legal definition of journalist anyone can claim to be one, thereby diluting the law by stretching it beyond any relevant boundaries. We can have a line in the sand; it simply needs to be one that is meaningfully tied to what journalism actually is…

It won’t be long before each bill comes up for a vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to begin marking up its version of the bill within a week. The House already has referred its version to two judiciary subcommittees. And the legislation, of course, has President Barack Obama’s full support.

Shock Poll: Americans Want To Mind Their Own Business

Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. should mind its own business concerning foreign policy, and should allow other countries to mind theirs without our intervention – whether for good or ill.

According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, 46 percent of Americans – a historic high ever since the poll began in the early 1960s – believe the United States should worry only about the United States.

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According to Pew, Americans’ resentment at recent Presidential Administrations over Mideast interventionist policies has fostered an unprecedented degree of isolationist philosophy among average Americans.

“Getting the American public’s attention, let alone commitment to deal with international issues is as challenging as it has ever been in the modern era,” said Pew Founding Director Andrew Kohut. “Feeling burned by Iraq and Afghanistan and burdened by domestic concerns, the public feels little responsibility and inclination to deal with international problems that are not seen as direct threats to the national interest. The depth and duration of the public’s disengagement these days goes well beyond the periodic spikes in isolationist sentiment that have been observed over the past 50 years.”

Syrian Fatwa Ordered Against Evil…Crescent Rolls

A new fatwa in the Syrian city of Aleppo targets people who dare to eat croissants.

According to an interview at China’s English-language Sina news website, one man who’s frustrated with the growing post-revolutionary power of Islamist extremists in Syria explains how fundamentalists are tightening their grip on local rule to an absurd extent.

“Al-Nusra Front fighters come up every day with a new unimaginable fatwa, or religious edict,” such as the fatwa against croissants, said the Syrian, identified only as “Ahmed.” The fundamentalists claim croissants are particularly relished by European infidels as a celebratory food (because of their “symbolic” crescent shape), which they allegedly tear into with gusto to commemorate historic victories over the Muslims.

Syrians originally inspired by a revolution they hoped would ensure stability and expanded freedoms are now taking to the internet to criticize al-Nusra’s growing intolerance of behaviors that fall outside various factions’ interpretations of sharia law. Other recent fatwas have involved women drivers, unveiled young girls, smoking and even listening to music.

Islamic fundamentalists continue to take control of large parts of Aleppo and other northern towns, which are being ruled by a cabal of “chieftains” who regard all of Syria as a “liberated Islamic emirate.”

“We were looking for more freedom and felt the revolution would give us more benefits… However, we now feel we are moving backwards and will soon return to the medieval era,” said one Syrian woman, adding that there’s nothing liberating about the land’s stale, Islamist-hijacked “revolution.”

“How could they bring us freedom if they (the al-Nusra rebels) themselves are captives held by the extremists?” she said.

 

Pope: God Judges Gays – Not Me; Carter To Visit North Korea; EMTs Wait Hours For New York Cops; Take Down That American Flag; FRANKENMEAT! – Monday Morning News Roundup 7-29-2013

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

  • Pope Francis has said gay people should not be marginalized but integrated into society. Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, he reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not. “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” Source: BBC…
  • Former President Jimmy Carter is planning to visit North Korea soon to try to win the release of Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen held for committing crimes against the reclusive state. Source: Reuters…
  • An injured veteran of the war in Afghanistan has been told to take down the American flag she has flying from her balcony by her apartment’s management company. “I was very upset and very offended by it,” said Jen Elliott. “We live in America. Why shouldn’t we fly our flag proudly?” Source: CBS Sacramento…
  • Frustrated EMTs in New York City are sometimes stuck waiting for hours watching over dead bodies — lengthy delays that make city ambulances unavailable for emergencies for long stretches of time. The NYPD said there’s not much they can do to speed things up on their end. Source: New York Daily News…
  • The world’s first test-tube burger will be served in London next week. It is made from meat grown in a laboratory, rather than cattle raised in pastures. The 5-ounce ‘Frankenburger’ is made from 3,000 tiny strips of meat grown from the stem cells of a cow. The raw meat is said to be grey with a slippery texture similar to squid or scallop. Source: Daily Mail… 

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Report: Government Secretly Asks For Americans’ Individual Passwords, Account Access

Two sources within the computing industry have told CNET that the U.S. government frequently demands major online service providers to hand over their individual users’ passwords in order to access their private information or to impersonate account holders.

Microsoft, Google and Yahoo all declined to say whether they had received such requests from the Feds. But then, they all but revealed that they do, telling CNET that they don’t provide that kind of information whenever they’ve been approached with orders to do so in the past. Of course, nearly all of the Nation’s major email and online service providers similarly — and, it turned out, falsely — denied that the National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped into their servers under the so-called PRISM program.

It’s not that these companies are eager to work with the government to undermine privacy. The profit motive offers a good incentive to keep the confidence of their millions of users.

But the government has been demonstrated to operate much of its surveillance, even at the service provider level, in secret. Or it obscures what it’s really going after by requesting batch data dumps and using a different body of terminology when dealing with computer companies than that which it uses internally, as Edward Snowden’s leaked documents demonstrate.

Too, the incredibly esoteric tech involved in decrypting password information has been a big boon to the NSA. The fact that almost no one outside the tech world understands how a company can legally divulge “password information” without revealing a user’s actual password has created an immense grey area in which transgressing or abiding by the spirit of standing laws may be easy to discern, but stretching the meaning of — while still adhering to — the letter of the law is anything but.

According to CNET:

Some details remain unclear, including when the requests began and whether the government demands are always targeted at individuals or seek entire password database dumps. The Patriot Act has been used to demand entire database dumps of phone call logs, and critics have suggested its use is broader.

…If the government can subsequently determine the password, “there’s a concern that the provider is enabling unauthorized access to the user’s account if they do that,” [Stanford professor Jennifer] Granick said. That could, she said, raise legal issues under the Stored Communications Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The Justice Department has argued in court proceedings before that it has broad legal authority to obtain passwords.

Watch for a new round of test-case lawsuits from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) or the American Civil Liberties Union to suss out just how far the government can go in obtaining any level of an individual’s private account information without a warrant. The EFF already is suing the NSA over the agency’s interpretation of what’s permitted by the surveillance warrants it obtains from the secret, unConstitutional Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

A Lobbyist’s Dream: Senate Guaranteed 50 Years’ Secrecy On Tax Reform Ideas

Senate leaders have collaborated to secure a supposedly airtight 50-year guarantee of secrecy from the Finance Committee not to publicly disclose tax reform proposals from all 100 Senators, nor reveal the lobbying pressures influencing many of their suggestions, ahead of major tax reform legislation to be written this fall.

The agreement, forged by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), “assured lawmakers that any submission they receive will be kept under lock and key by the committee and the National Archives until the end of 2064,” according to The Hill.

In other words, the American public can find out all the ways the government defrauded them to protect politically active corporations after everyone in the Senate is dead.

Baucus and Hatch will co-sponsor tax reform later this year. Ostensibly, their vow of secrecy is intended to ensure all members of the Senate feel equally free to involve themselves in what could be a ground-up rewrite of the tax code. If it has the side effect of concealing the Senators’ true motives for positing changes in the way the Nation’s wealth is being redistributed, well, that’s unintentional.

From The Hill:

The lengths Baucus and Hatch have gone to reassure their colleagues underscores the importance the tax writers are placing on the blank-slate plan, and it shows they are working hard to ensure that all 100 senators engage in the process.

Baucus told The Hill he fully expects more senators to participate in writing because of the secrecy guarantee.

…It also illustrates the enormous pressure being brought to bear by K Street lobbyists, who are working furiously to protect their clients and the tax provisions that benefit them.

Only 10 staffers will be authorized to review Senators’ suggestions, each of which is to be assigned a unique ID number and stored on password-protected computers servers on both the Democrat and Republican sides. Hard copies are to be kept in locked safes.

That’s a lot of skullduggery just to make sure Americans have a tough time figuring out the obscure connections that link Senators in landlocked rural States with lobby-backed proposals — to envision just one relatively benign example — to offer major breaks to coastal industries far from their constituent base. With one less way of monitoring backroom agreements between government and private influence, expect the Nation’s tax code to fester into an even uglier, more confusing, more inequitable mess. Outrageously, the Senate is doing its best to make sure there won’t be anywhere to lay the blame.

Leave Numbers-Based Suspicion To Vegas – Not The NSA, FBI and DOJ

What does it mean to be “51 percent” certain that something is true? It means you’re more certain than not – but certainly not certain. It might mean you’re fine with admitting you’d been wrong, if it turns out the other 49 percent in that simplistic ratio proved correct.

When the National Security Agency (NSA) or a Federal law enforcement entity – whether it’s the Department of Justice, FBI or Department of homeland Security – starts querying its massive computer databases for specific “non-U.S. persons” as defined by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), all they need is a 51 percent suspicion that the person they’re about to secretly track online isn’t an American citizen.

From the original Washington Post story that revealed details about the NSA’s PRISM internet spy program:

Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade, Md., key in “selectors,” or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness.” That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by The Post instruct new analysts to make quarterly reports of any accidental collection of U.S. content, but add that “it’s nothing to worry about.”

Those of you who gamble: if an oddsmaker told you to bet your fortune because he was “51 percent sure” that your sports team would cover the spread, would you flinch when he told you the 49 percent of doubt was “nothing to worry about?”

When and if Congress revises the bevy of laws governing what the NSA, DOJ, FBI and DHS can and can’t do, it needs to leave numeric-based probability to the Vegas bookies – and leave it out of the burgeoning U.S. surveillance state.

Halliburton Destroyed Evidence In BP Spill; Pays $200,000 Fine

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to accept a guilty plea from Halliburton Company to a charge of destroying evidence in the aftermath of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Halliburton will also serve three years of probation, and, despite admitting to destroying evidence, has pledged to cooperate with all remaining criminal investigations into the circumstances surrounding the explosion. The settlement agreement is pending court approval.

As part of its oil field support role, Halliburton helped British Petroleum (BP), which owned a majority stake in the Macondo oil well, in sealing taps through a technique called “cementing.”

DOJ alleged that Halliburton had advised BP to use 21 metal collars to help ensure the effectiveness of the cementing process at the Macondo well, but that BP elected to use only six. DOJ accused Halliburton of destroying evidence held in computer simulations that demonstrated using a smaller number of collars didn’t pose a disproportionate safety risk.

According to the government, Halliburton recommended to BP that the Macondo well contain 21 centralizers, metal collars that can improve cementing, but BP chose to use six.

The government said that, during an internal probe into the cementing after the blowout, Halliburton ordered workers to destroy computer simulations that showed little difference between using six and 21 centralizers. Efforts to forensically locate the simulations were unsuccessful, the government said.

BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion late last year as part of a settlement in which it pleaded guilty to 11 felony charges related to the deaths of the 11 workers who lost their lives in the disaster. Transocean Deepwater Inc., which owned another large stake in the well, agreed to pay $1.4 billion in fines.

Both companies are also involved in ongoing civil litigation, with findings that have so far exacted hundreds of millions of dollars out of billions of dollars in funds each company set aside in anticipation of a deluge of civil claims.

Halliburton, which is also named in the civil litigation, voluntarily agreed to give $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of Thursday’s criminal settlement.

Obama’s Racial Hypocrisy: Trayvon ‘Could Have Been Me’ But I’m Nominating Ray ‘Stop And Frisk’ Kelly, King Of Racial Profiling

Why would President Barack Obama nominate a man to a top security post who, by the President’s own standard, would have profiled him as a potential criminal on the streets of New York City as a younger man? And by implication, why does he endorse the idea that it’s fine for cops to randomly stop and frisk people based on their race, but that it’s a civil rights crime if a private citizen on neighborhood watch patrol might have done the same thing?

The President’s nomination of New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to replace departed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano came only days before Obama joined his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, along with friends in the entertainment industry and the NAACP, in the public immolation of an exonerated George Zimmerman.

For the Left, Zimmerman is a dead-horse straw man target, an involuntary Bull Connor figure who ought to be receiving royalty payments from people like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Jay-Z — and now Obama – who have ridden his unassuming coattails to a re-emergence as race-baiting firebrands whose relevance depends on how successful they are at bringing out the worst in the characters of uninformed people. Obama seized an opportunity to do just that, telling the Nation: “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

The President’s July 19 comments are actually remarkable for the extent to which they betray Obama’s dismissal of black-on-black violence (blame history), his self-identity (our President is, first and foremost, a “hyphen”-American who’s been feared by white women on the street) and, most tellingly, his propensity to group people into a racial category and proceed to speak for their behaviors, beliefs and feelings (“black folks interpret…understand…get frustrated…”):

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact — although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys. But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied.

Like Sharpton and Jackson, Obama is now speaking on behalf of American blacks, a gesture he knows automatically implies a divisive wedge that exempts one American from believing he shares — and that he should share — common ground with another. That’s vile, especially coming from the elected leader of the free world.

Equally vile is the brazen hypocrisy of burnishing the reputation of Kelly. With vocal support from otherwise-liberal New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Kelly has expanded the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” practice into a racial profiling juggernaut, requiring street cops to randomly pick out black and Hispanic individuals because they’re black and Hispanic and to frisk them without probable cause that they’re involved in anything criminal. Bloomberg notoriously said last month that the cops were stopping too many white people and not enough minorities — even though minorities comprise nearly 90 percent of all NYPD stops.

For Reason’s Jacob Sullum, something in Obama’s Janus-like positions on Zimmerman and Kelly doesn’t gibe:

The juxtaposition of [the President’s] comments suggests Obama would rather attack an easy target than confront issues with much clearer implications for equality under the law.

In contrast with Zimmerman, who has never been credibly accused of shooting Martin because of his race, Kelly is named in a federal lawsuit that charges the NYPD with routinely violating the Fourth and 14th Amendments through a program of street stops that target blacks or Hispanics 87 percent of the time. The number of such stops septupled during Kelly’s first nine years as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s police commissioner…

… As Obama noted on Friday, “there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws—everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.” In New York City under Ray Kelly, that history is still being made.

Poll: Vote Congress Out, But Trust Congress Over Obama

If there’s anything to the results of a new voter poll, the 2014 midterm elections will see the entirety of today’s House of Representatives, along with every Senator who’s up for re-election, kicked out of office.

A nationwide poll conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal shows 57 percent of Americans would choose to throw the “bums” out, including their own elected representatives.

A staggering 83 percent of respondents said they aren’t satisfied with the job Congress is doing. That’s far fewer than those who’ve tired of President Barack Obama, whose numbers — 50 percent disapprove; 45 percent approve — still continue to reflect a steady decline from a high of 53 percent approval in December.

The poll asked voters a follow-up question:

If there were a place on your ballot that allowed you to vote to defeat and replace every single member of Congress, including your own representative, would you do this, or not?

And 57 percent said “yes.” That’s the highest number of dissatisfied respondents the poll has seen over the course of seven iterations since March of 2010.

Of course, that’s not going to happen. Voters have demonstrated that they are often willing to break with personal ideology in order to return to Washington a local representative who’s amassed some clout that benefits their own districts, while simultaneously begrudging Congressmen with similar views who hail from other districts and other States.

But Americans’ disgust with partisan gridlock in Congress is far and away the biggest reason people say they’re disappointed with Washington politics. Asked to rank eight reasons for their dissatisfaction in order from most to least important, 44 percent ranked Congressional ineffectiveness either first or second. By contrast, cuts to programs “that help the poor” were ranked among the top two reasons by only 20 percent.

As a strange statistic shows, people may be fed up with Congress as a whole, but they still — at least in theory — would rather Congress take the lead in setting national policy than allow the President to do it. Of those surveyed, 48 percent said Congress should set the tone on shaping policies, while only 38 percent said Obama should continue to take point. And of those who prefer Congress over Obama, an overwhelming majority said they want the House Republican majority to lead the way, rather than the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Obama: Reporters Say My Ideas Are ‘Great’

Who needs state media when you have the MSM?  President Barack Obama told an Illinois audience Wednesday that reporters are sympathetic toward his policies, but that they advise him Congressional Republicans will never let those good ideas take root and blossom.

“It’s interesting, in the run-up to this speech, a lot of reporters say that, well, Mr. President, these are all good ideas, but some of you’ve said before; some of them sound great, but you can’t get those through Congress. Republicans won’t agree with you,” said Obama in Galesburg, Ill.

In fact, Republicans like Obama’s ideas too – they just won’t say so out loud, for fear of their constituents and other Republicans, he added.

“I know because they’ve said so. But they worry they’ll face swift political retaliation for cooperating with me. Now, there are others who will dismiss every idea I put forward either because they’re playing to their most strident supporters, or in some cases because, sincerely, they have a fundamentally different vision for America.”

H/T: The Hill http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/313445-obama-reporters-tell-me-my-ideas-are-great

College Republicans Banned From Obama’s Campus Speech

A group of College Republicans who held tickets to an on-campus economy speech by President Barack Obama was denied admittance after civilly protesting the President’s fiscal policies in the hours leading up to the event.

According to The College Fix, “security personnel” Wednesday at the University of Central Missouri turned away the students, who were wearing a variety of Republican accessories and/or Tea Party T-shirts, after they put away their protest signs and attempted to join the 2,500 other ticketholders who’d waited hours to hear the President.

Why? Well, the “security personnel” (never named in the article as the Secret Service or campus security) told the students their political views weren’t the problem, but the President’s safety was.

Wait – isn’t that essentially telling them, in totalitarian fashion, that their political views were the problem?

“It just didn’t make any sense,” said one College Republican official. “A lot of us traveled several hours to watch the speech. We were very disappointed not to be able to attend.”

The College Republicans had joined with others from the State Republican Party for a 60-person protest that, according to the article, consisted of holding signs and talking to people passing through. Their protest was held in a “public speech area” of the campus and was nowhere within sight, or earshot, of the building where Obama delivered the speech, nor of those ticketholders who had already queued up to be let inside. The report indicates that no other groups or individuals who held tickets were scrutinized or turned away in similar fashion.

Obama’s speech Wednesday marked one stop along his newly-launched Nationwide tour to evangelize the President’s economic policy and stump on jobs growth.

Texas Holder ‘Em; Amash Amendment Goes Down; Weiner’s ‘Sex Bunker’; Pelosi Anchors A ‘Conversation’ About Race; George H.W. Bush Shaves His Head – Thursday Morning News Roundup 7-25-2013

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

 

  • Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Thursday that the Justice Department would ask a court to require Texas to get permission from the federal government before making voting changes in that state for the next decade. (No word on doing the same in Illinois.) Source: New York Times…

 

  • The House of Representatives voted 217-205 to defeat an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would have limited the National Security Agency’s ability to collect electronic information, including phone call records. Source: Reuters…

 

  • The man who broke the most recent Anthony Weiner sexting scandal said that the embattled New York politician presented his marriage to young women as a sham and even planned to purchase a “secret bunker” in Chicago that could house real-life trysts. Source: The Daily Caller…

 

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is hosting a “Conversation on Race and Justice” on July 30 on Capitol Hill, welcoming buddies from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Social Inclusion to use the George Zimmerman trial as the jumping-off point for a “broader conversation.” Source: Washington Examiner…

 

  • Former President George H.W. Bush, 89, sported a clean-shaven head in solidarity with a 2-year-old named Patrick, who lost his hair when he started being treated for leukemia. Source: ABC News…

 

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In Some States, Flashing Your Headlights To Warn About Speed Traps Will Get You In Trouble

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is using the case of a Missouri man to challenge a municipal law — one of dozens, if not hundreds of similar laws throughout the United States — that punishes motorists who flash their headlights at oncoming drivers to alert them to a police presence in their path of travel.

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri has filed a class action suit against the City of Ellisville after learning of what happened to Michael Elli, a resident who was pulled over by a local cop and cited for “flashing [his] lights to warn of radar ahead.” He was told in court he would have to pay a customary $1,000 in fines, but the charge was later dismissed after Elli put up more resistance than other unfortunate motorists who’d preceded him.

An ACLU attorney went straight to the heart of the deceptive evil inherent in the law:

Those who use their First Amendment rights to warn others to drive cautiously should not be punished for their message. After all, the purpose of traffic laws is to promote safety, not generate revenue.

Well said — although it could have been even more precise.

There’s a tremendous case to be made for exercising one’s 1st Amendment rights not merely to “warn others to drive cautiously” but to “warn others that cops are over the hill indiscriminately mining for probable cause so that they can stop strangers who aren’t under investigation and possibly violate their 4th Amendment rights in the process.”

With the ACLU taking up the case, Elli is the named plaintiff in the lawsuit against the city. The outcome could set a precedent to legal challenges in States like Alaska and Arizona, where it’s against the law to flash your headlights as a gesture to other motorists for any reason.

Do local laws deter you from flashing your lights at other drivers? Would they? Sound off in the comments.

U.N. Wants You To Call ‘Illegal Immigrants’ ‘Irregular Migrants’

Citing concerns over the offensive-sounding implication of culpability latent in the term “illegal immigrant,” the United Nations is asking reporters covering human trafficking in Malta to stop saying “illegal immigrant” and start saying “irregular migrant.”

What, like their stomach problems trump their citizenship?

The U.N. is also discouraging reporters from referring to illegal immigrants’ border movements as “clandestine,” which, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Malta, has a “strong negative connection, invoking a sense of criminality.”

The Maltese case differs greatly from the illegal immigration controversy that rages in the United States. Many illegal immigrants in Malta are fleeing far more hostile political circumstances in Africa and claim political asylum upon arrival. But the ostensibly compassionate effort to bend plain language to dull the sting of its proper meaning is a trek down a one-way path toward crafting ever more statist policies spawned by globalists and liberals.

Writing for The Telegraph, foreign correspondent Colin Freeman explains the strange logic that makes offensive the very commonsense practice of calling things by their true names.

“Illegal immigration” apparently carries connotations of criminality, of someone doing something wrong. Like, for example, paying a people smuggler €700 to transport them (sic) a rickety boat that might sink with the loss of all on board. Whereas “irregular” is a more “neutral” term. Probably all the same to you and me.

…Make no mistake, people traffickers are the modern day equivalent of slave traders, the only difference being that these days, they have sidelines in drugs and weapons smuggling too. Yes, of course they are more culpable than the people they exploit, just as heroin traffickers get heavier sentences than heroin addicts. But to describe their cargo as simply “irregular” rather than illegal is a sophistry that risks detracting from the very real criminality of what they do.

The tide of humanity unleashed by the movements of desperate or displaced people can’t be legislated out of existence. Law is too feeble a construct to ultimately deter the primal motivator that’s driven mass migrations of Vandals, Visigoths, Mongols, Rwandans and Mexicans — all of which have left permanent and fundamental cultural change in their wake as they inhabit their new homes. Immigration — legal or not — is an enormously difficult phenomenon to attempt to control. But if there’s national will to address it as a problem that threatens the foundations of a society, then a Nation has every right to do so.

However, it’s a disservice to both sides of the argument to subvert, from the outset, the very language used to diagnose exactly what the problem is.

Detroit Files For Bankruptcy; Council Votes To Ask Feds To Investigate George Zimmerman

In the throes of the largest municipal economic crisis in American history, the Detroit city council found an opportunity at its Tuesday meeting to ask the Federal government to investigate a guy acquitted for a self-defense killing that took place more than a year ago in Florida.

The council passed a resolution calling on the Feds to investigate the merits of possible civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, after a Florida jury found him not guilty on criminal charges in the “stand your ground” self-defense death of Trayvon Martin in February of 2012.

Council member JoAnn Watson sponsored the resolution, dismissing the comments of fellow council member Kenneth Cockrel Jr., who observed that a burgeoning epidemic of urban black-on-black crime has failed to capture the attention either of elected leaders or the media.

The Detroit Free Press covered the meeting, quoting Cockrel’s message that “we need to have the same level of outrage with respect to black-on-black crime that takes place in our community.”

Watson responded that there’s plenty of outrage already over that kind of crime. “Because the so-called major media does not cover all of the expressions does not mean it does not happen. So that’s not correct.”

Despite the back-and-forth, the council approved the resolution unanimously.

With the resolution approved, George Zimmerman remained free and Detroit remained bankrupt.

 

Obama’s Economy: Turn, Turn, Turn; Snowden Stirs; Republicans And Their Sisters; GM Bailout (Still) Soaks Americans; Big Apple Bikers Exposed – Wednesday Morning News Roundup 7-24-2013

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

 

  • According to political reporter Salena Zito, today’s economic speeches by Barack Obama represent the 19th “pivot” for the president. Source: Weekly Standard… 

 

  • Fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has been given an official pass to leave Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, Russian airport officials say. He has stayed in transit since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23rd, and recently requested temporary asylum in Russia. Source: BBC… 

 

  • Researchers released a study Tuesday that found men who were raised with female siblings tend to be conservative in their views of gender throughout their lives, and more likely to vote Republican when they’re young than their male peers. Source: CBS Los Angeles… 

 

  • General Motors stock would have to sell for $95.51 per share for taxpayers to break even on bailing out the company, according to a government watchdog’s report released Wednesday. Taxpayers are still $18.1 billion in the hole on the $49.5 billion bailout, including interest and dividends, according to the report. Source: MyFox Detroit…  

 

  • Riders of New York City’s star-crossed Citi Bike service – many of them already frustrated by other problems with the pick-up and drop-off bicycle program – have now learned that their personal information has been compromised. More than 1,100 riders received emails this week that reassuringly stated “There is a security breach that has been solved. Thank you for your understanding. Your security is safe.” Source: CBS New York… 

 

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Obama’s Plunging Approval Rating Still Outpaces Congress

Public approval for a scandal-embattled President Barack Obama, as well as a gridlocked, ineffectual Congress, has reached near-historic lows, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

The President is facing his worst slide in popularity among a cross section of Americans since his all-time low of 39 percent in September 2011. The recent poll, which finds his approval down to 41 percent, shows Obama on track to descend at least that far once more, if the trend established during the first six months of his second term continues.

In April (back when the Benghazi, Libya, debacle was the only major Obama Administration scandal the public knew about), Obama’s polling numbers were commensurate with the 51 percent of the popular vote he received in the 2012 election, with an even 50 percent of Americans still showing their approval.

But two months later, in the wake of scandals involving Obama’s ties with the Internal Revenue Service, National Security Agency and Department of Justice — along with an unfocused cavalcade of second-term agenda talking points covering Obamacare, energy regulations, ambivalent foreign policy and even civil liberties — the President’s popularity, even among his liberal base, has taken a dramatic hit.

A separate Field poll found that only 52 percent of voters in California, where Democrats have carried every Presidential election since 1992, now approve of Obama’s post-scandal performance. In February, by contrast, he had enjoyed a 62 percent popularity rating.

As the McClatchy poll summary notes, the numerous scandals have chipped away at Obama’s credibility on many fronts, with Americans from highly divergent walks of life finding their own different reasons for turning on the President. Despite that, Obama still is faring far better than the stagnant 113th Congress, especially the Republican majority in the House of Representatives:

“Clearly six months into his second term there’s been falloff across the board. It’s not like one group bailed on him,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in New York, which conducted the poll.

About his only solace is that the approval rating of congressional Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, sank to 22 percent. One-third of registered voters approved of congressional Democrats’ performance.

The dismal Washington numbers reflect “the ongoing, cumulative effect of those issues which have not been resolved” and no solution is in sight, Miringoff said. Lawmakers remain at odds over how to trim federal deficits or write a federal budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, and Congress plans to leave Aug. 2 for a five-week recess.

Hobby Lobby Gains Ground In Suit Opposing Obamacare Contraception Mandate

Hobby Lobby, the 550-store, 13,000-employee Christian-owned arts and crafts retail chain at the center of a legal fight over a contraception mandate within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, won a temporary victory over the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week after a court issued a preliminary injunction permitting the company to omit birth control from its employee  health plan.

U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton read his decision from the bench, saying there exists “a substantial public interest in ensuring that no individual or corporation has their legs cut out from under them while these difficult issues are resolved.”

Without a court order in place to keep Federal penalties at bay while the company’s lawsuit against HHS moves forward, Hobby Lobby’s owners faced a possible $1.3 million in daily fines.

The ruling doesn’t address the merits of the case, but it does move the suit one step closer to a definitive and potentially far-reaching resolution, as the Obama Administration considers an early petition before the U.S. Supreme Court in the hope of obtaining a ruling that forces company owners to extend “preventive” coverage for contraception in violation of their religious beliefs.

The injunction, which also applies to the affiliated chain of Mardel Christian bookstores, has the additional effect of demonstrating that a Court can regard a privately held company as a “person” in affirming the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Nationwide, there are more than 60 other companies challenging the HHS contraception mandate.

Because the injunction doesn’t set a definitive precedent and serves only to relieve an undue burden during ongoing litigation in this case alone, it doesn’t excuse those companies from applying the mandate or from facing fines; rather, each would have to win a similar court-ordered injunction separately or simply wait for the mandate to be declared unConstitutional.

Heaton delayed the case until October, which allows the Obama Administration time to weigh whether to mount an appeal.

Hobby Lobby’s owners have stated publicly that providing coverage for contraception that includes morning-after pregnancy-ending pills conflicts with their religion-based moral convictions.