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…

 

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

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… 

 

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

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.

Mayors Abandoning Bloomberg’s ‘Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ Group

Mayors who signed on to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pet gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), are beginning to ditch the organization after learning they attached themselves to an organization with an ambitious gun control agenda that far overreaches its innocent-sounding name.

BuzzFeed Politics reports that more than 50 mayors have dropped their memberships since February – either because they realized they were endorsing gun control or because they were simply voted out of office.

In the case of those who left office, many of their successors have shown reluctance to pick up membership in the controversial group, formed in 2006 with $3 million in funding out of Bloomberg’s personal fortune.

“The original focus, I thought, was going to be on focusing on better on enforcement of our existing laws, and if anything, we have talked about not getting involved with things like banning assault weapons and banning magazine clips,” said Rockford, Ill. Mayor Lawrence Morrissey, who was cheered by residents when he announced he was dropping his membership.

Other mayors who’ve dropped said they’ve done so on similar principles, or because they didn’t fully understand the political baggage associated with a group that, rather than standing “against illegal guns,” turned out to be more interested in making guns illegal.

Lawsuit: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Too Powerful; Unrestrained; UnConstitutional

A legal support services company has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), alleging the emerging Federal agency is too unrestricted in its powers and threatens to aggrandize powers that are already properly delegated to established government agencies.

The suit, filed Monday by bankruptcy software company Morgan Drexen, states the CFPB owes no direct accountability to the American people, and represents a giant step toward costly redundancy, heavier regulation and unchecked government bloat.

The CFPB was from an omnibus piece of reactionary legislation – the Dodd-Frank Act – that ostensibly aimed to rein in Wall Street investment banks deemed “too big to fail” following the economic bailout of 2008.

According to a report Monday by The Hill:

Morgan Drexen claims the agency tried to obtain information that should be protected by attorney-client privileges. The information the CFPB wanted included names, addresses and income information about the clients of lawyers who used the company’s services, it said.

“…You provide that kind of sensitive information to your lawyer and now suddenly an agency of the federal government wants to collect it, and it’s little strange, particularly in light of some of the other things that have been going on with data collecting. We’re worried about the overreach a little bit,” said a lawyer attached to the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs essentially are arguing that the CFPB is threatening to get into the business of extending its regulatory oversight to lawyers representing financial institutions – effectively adding an extra layer of illegal regulations to government scrutiny of law, a profession that, both legally and ethically, enjoys broad protections of practice and procedure.

The suit seeks to have a court declare the present administrative structure of the CFPB unconstitutional, and to strike down language in the Dodd-Frank Act that founded the agency.

States’ Rights In Post-DOMA America; Pelosi ‘Defends’ 2nd Amendment; Al-Qaida Grows; DoD Contractors Miss Out On Sequester; Janet On A Different Planet – Tuesday Morning News Roundup 7-23-2013

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

  • If the Internal Revenue Service keeps in place a State residency policy that effectively prevents legally married same-sex couples from receiving benefits once they’ve moved to States where gay marriage isn’t legal, then people in the 37 States where gay marriage isn’t expressly endorsed “have gained virtually nothing by last month’s [Supreme Court Defense Of Marriage Act] decision,” says a lawyer representing gay couples. Source: Reuters… 
  • Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cited her oath to “protect and defend” the U.S. Constitution as the reason Congress should enact harsher gun control measures. In a press release marking the one-year anniversary of the Aurora, Colo., shootings, the former House Speaker said: “In Congress, there can be no more fitting memorial to the lives lost in Aurora, in Newtown, and across the country than a concerted effort to enact commonsense gun safety legislation.” Source: CNS News…
  • Al-Qaida not only remains a threat to the United States, but its capabilities and scope are expanding, a new analysis from a respected think tank has concluded. Source: The Christian Science Monitor…
  • What Sequester?! Lockheed Martin’s earnings rose 10 percent in the second quarter, and the company projected increased profits this year — despite the threat of automatic budget cuts at the Pentagon. Source: The Hill…
  • Last week, Janet Napolitano just about tripled her old salary as Homeland Security Secretary now that she’s confirmed to be the next president of the University of California. The university’s Board of Regents thought it made good business sense to pay her $575,000 a year and to give her a free house, an $8,000 car allowance and $142,000 for relocation expenses. Source: CBS San Francisco…

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

Boehner’s Moment Of Clarity

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) slipped up and said something uncharacteristically conservative in an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday: He said that the American regulatory and legislative environment is bloated and that Congress should be in the business of repealing laws — not making them.

That’s the kind of Tea Party talk Americans have come to expect from a tiny minority of conservative Senators like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz or from Representative Justin Amash, but to hear the small sermon on small government from the mouth of the Weeping RINO is confusing. After excoriating Obamacare and hemming and hawing about his true stance on immigration legislation, Boehner offered this:

…[T]he American people are looking up at a government that’s out of control. It’s too big to govern. And so the mission I came here with as a small businessman 23 years ago is still my mission — to fight for a smaller, less-costly, a more accountable federal government, to empower the private sector to be all that it can be, to create jobs for our kids and grandkids. That’s what drives me every day. And I know people from the outside look in and go, “how can he put up with all this nonsense?” But I don’t look at it that way. I stay focused on the mission I came here with, and it’s still the mission I have.

…[W]e should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal. We’ve got more laws than the administration could ever enforce. And so we don’t do commemorative bills on the floor. We don’t do all that nonsense. We deal with what the American people want us to deal with. Unpopular? Yes. Why? We’re in a divided government. We’re fighting for what we believe in. Sometimes, you know, the American people don’t like this mess.

In throwing true conservatives a bone, is Boehner motivated by some internal party pressure? Is the vocal minority of conservatism in Congress — and among back-home constituents — becoming more vocal and less of a minority?

Lest people worry that Boehner is experiencing a sea change in his philosophy of government, a look at his discussion of immigration reform should set their minds at ease. CBS host Bob Schieffer tried everything but waterboarding to coax out of Boehner a definitive explanation of his views, but the best he could manage was this response:

If I come out and say I’m for this and I’m for that, all I’m doing is making my job harder. My job is to — as the leader of the House — is to facilitate this conversation, this process, that involves members on both sides of the aisle, involves the American people, and when they can see us moving in a deliberative, step-by-step, commonsense way.

…Yes, I’ve got certain things that I’d like to see accomplished. But this is not going to be about me. I said it the opening day. And it’s never going to be about me. It’s what’s in the best interest of the country. If we’re listening to the American people and we’re following their will, our House will work just fine.”

So… are you for amnesty or not? Didn’t quite catch that.

Perhaps the biggest reassurance that the Speaker hasn’t truly bought in to the whole “get government out of the way” ethic came in Boehner’s breezy conflation of government entitlement with government deregulation:

Republicans have a plan for job creation. We’ve been at this now for the last two and a half years. And whether it’s making student loans more affordable, stopping unnecessary regulations, trying to get our budget deficit under control — all of these things would help get our economy moving again.

So cheap government-subsidized loans and disentangling government treats from people and institutions somehow go hand in hand?

For now, it looks as though Boehner’s transitory moment of clarity was just that: a moment.

House Seeks To Slash Appropriation For Ambitious EPA

The House of Representatives is considering a bill that would cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by more than one-third in 2014, only a year after attempting to pass a more modest 17 percent budget cut.

According to The Hill, a House Appropriations subcommittee is slated to make sure the EPA pruning survives within a larger, GOP-led omnibus Interior and Environment spending bill, which will be taken up on Tuesday.

The EPA’s proposed budget cut — $2.8 billion — is the largest single pruning House Republicans have embedded in the bill, which would cut 19 percent (a total of $5.5 billion) from the budgets of a number of Federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Gallery of Art.

What’s significant about the EPA hatchet job is its timing. The proposed cuts come only a month after President Barack Obama unveiled a plan to prioritize environmental regulations, reflecting the White House’s official stance that man-made climate change is destroying the planet and must be dealt with ahead of a host of other domestic problems.

The House bill would stave off forthcoming EPA regulations that require petroleum refiners to reduce the presence of sulfur in gasoline, which oil companies expect would add dramatically to the cost of production. It also would negate EPA regulations that, per Obama’s anti-coal agenda, would set new carbon emissions standards on electric power plants.

Subcommittee leader Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said the GOP-backed budget cuts and policy strictures are a direct effort at confronting Obama on climate change, in the hope of averting new rules that would unnecessarily increase industry costs (and end-user costs) through the implementation of more difficult and sophisticated production processes, as well as punitive fines.

New EPA boss (and Obama nominee) Gina McCarthy embraced the President’s grand vision on climate change, telling employees in an internal video Monday that the agency “has a clear responsibility to act now on climate change” and that this era “is a defining time” for the EPA.

Former HHS Undersecretary: President’s Obamacare Delay A ‘Line-Item Veto’ Abuse Of Power

A lot of conservatives have seized upon President Barack Obama’s recent decision to delay a key component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to revisit the flaws inherent in the legislation, as well as to castigate the law as a monument to the encroachment of the Executive Branch well beyond its Constitutionally-designated role.

But Ben Sasse, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health And Human Services, points out one aspect of the President’s postponement of Obamacare’s employer mandate provision that’s so far gone largely unnoticed, even by Obama’s fiercest critics: the President is essentially editing the law – a 2,300-page monster which Congress passed intact despite having read most of it – to suit his own political purposes, post facto.

That’s a manifestly egregious Constitutional no-no.

“Obamacare is a ticking time bomb for Democrats in the 2014 elections. Nobody knows this better than President Barack Obama, which is why over the Fourth of July holiday weekend he unilaterally decided to delay its controversial employer mandate provision until after the midterm elections,” Sasse wrote in Sunday’s Omaha World Herald.

[T]the moment the Obama administration declared the employer mandate would be delayed until after a tough election, this debate transcended a fight over health care and became a fight about transforming our constitutional system of separate but equal branches of government.

This is now about ceding power to a runaway executive branch that the Constitution simply does not allow.

…By enforcing only the provisions he finds politically expedient or tolerable, the president decided he could make the law what he desires it to be rather than what the words on the page actually say. He essentially granted himself the line item veto.

That’s unConstitutional, as Sasse goes on to demonstrate. It’s one thing for the President to carry out the law as Congress enacted it (Article II, Section 3), but it’s another thing entirely to decide which aspects of the law to enforce, and which to neglect. To do so is to monarchically amend the law that the legislative branch passed.

For that reason, House Republicans’ effort last week to approve a commensurate delay in the implementation of Obamacare mandates for individuals may have appeared well intentioned, but it effectively signaled Congressional conservatives’ tacit acceptance of Obama’s legislative cherry-picking.

That means that Congress needs either to enforce Obamacare, or repeal it. Any middle ground means more concessions to an abuse of executive power that’s already way out of control.

‘Weeds’ Actor Calls On Fellow Blacks To Reject MSM, Race Pundits Over Zimmerman Meltdown

Sometimes it’s best to step back and let someone with something good to say have as wide an audience as possible.

That’s why we’re pointing you to a guest column at the Huffington Post, in which “Weeds” actor Romany Malco, who is black, breaks rank with race-baiting black “leaders” who’ve co-opted the Martin/Zimmerman case and, in so doing, perverted the spirit of the (largely successful) Civil Rights movement. He even uses Rahm Emanuel’s own words to illustrate that very point.

Malco slams the mainstream media, questions the motives of black figureheads and news agencies, and points the finger of blame for misplaced racial outraged directly where it belongs: on the self-destruction of the black community, starting with the individual and the family.

Here’s a snippet:

To be brutally honest, the only reason people are even aware of Trayvon Martin is because it became a topic within mainstream news and pop culture. Meaning: News directors saw it as a profitable, sensational story. Hundreds of blacks die annually in South Side Chicago without even a blurb. Trayvon isn’t in the mainstream news for any reason other than ratings and profit.

…Don’t you find it peculiar that the same media outlets who have worked so diligently to galvanize the negative stigmas of black men in America are now airing open debates on improving the image of black males in American media? Do you honestly think CNN is using their competitive time slots for philanthropy?

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” – Rahm Emanuel

If we really wanted to ensure Trayvon Martin’s killing was not in vain, we’d stop perpetuating negative images that are now synonymous with black men in America.

…We’d spend less time subconsciously repeating lyrics about death and murder and more time understanding why we are so willing to twerk to songs that demean women and boast of having things we cannot afford…We’d seek information outside the corporate owned-media that manipulates us.

There’s much more. The piece holds up a mirror to anyone, from any walk of life in America, who’s willing to take an honest look. Read the rest at HuffPo, and share.

Google On The Brain; Black Boxes In Cars; Senate Pushes Email Privacy; Detroit Has Company; Obama Loves The Drone – Monday Morning News Roundup 7-22-2013

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

 

  • According to Google’s founders, the company’s ultimate goal is to insert a chip inside your head for the most effortless search engine imaginable. “We have impatience for that to happen but the pieces of technology have to develop,” said one developer. Source: The Independent…

 

  • About 96 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States have “black box” data recorders, but the NHTSA is pushing for 100 percent coverage. Data stored in the devices is increasingly being used to identify safety problems in cars and as evidence in traffic accidents and criminal cases, raising privacy concerns about who owns the information, and what it can be used for. Source: ACLU…

 

  • Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is pushing to fast-track legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing emails and other private online messages. Source: The Hill…

 

  • Detroit may be alone among the nation’s biggest cities in terms of filing for bankruptcy, but it is far from the only city being crushed by a roiling mountain of long-term debt. From Baltimore to Los Angeles, and many points in between, municipalities are increasingly confronted with how to pay for massive promises. Source: Detroit Free Press…

 

  • The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, representing a family member, have sued former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other former officials over the two separate drone strikes that killed three U.S. citizens in Yemen. The Obama administration wants the lawsuit dismissed. Source: McClatchy… 

 

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

House Dems Join GOP In Meaningless, But Revealing, Obamacare Vote

You know Obamacare’s a mess when the same supporters who voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and its components, back in 2009 and 2010, are now voting to put off actually enacting the thing.

Last week’s vote to delay until next year a mandate requiring employers of 50 or more to offer insurance coverage, as well as a vote to delay the mandate that compels individuals to purchase insurance, marked one of the most bipartisan things the Republican-led House of Representatives has done in a while.

The employer mandate passed on a 264-161 vote; the individual mandate by a 251-174 margin.

That means Democrats are voting against Obamacare.

An analysis in The Hill last week contrasted House Democrats’ recent, stridently partisan voting pattern with that of last Wednesday’s Obamacare “mandate” votes.

Vulnerable House Democrats laid low Thursday after voting to delay two key ObamaCare mandates over a White House veto threat.

The hush from centrist Dems came after a considerable number cast ballots alongside Republicans on Wednesday for bills designed to embarrass the Obama administration.

The next day, many of the defectors failed to respond to requests for comment on the votes. Some avoided reporters, while several others declined to speak through spokesmen.

The divisions over healthcare strongly contrasted with a recent pattern of unified votes by House Democrats.

Not a single Democrat voted last week for a stripped down Republican farm bill, and only four voted in May to tie student loan rates to the financial markets.

But ObamaCare’s employer and individual mandates proved a different story, highlighting anxiety over the divisive law as lawmakers from swing districts await 2014.

In the long run, the House vote on Obamacare won’t matter. President Barack Obama has said he’ll veto the bills, and the Senate isn’t going to let them make it that far anyway. And we’ve all seen this movie before. Taken together, last week’s votes marked the GOP majority’s 38th attempt at repealing, defunding or stripping the PPACA since January 2011.

But with Obama off to an abysmal start in his second Presidential term and his signature accomplishment growing more unpopular as the ACA’s October deadline nears, it’s telling that 35 House Democrats voted to delay the employer mandate, while 22 did the same concerning the start date for mandatory individual coverage.

Fourteen of the Democrats who voted to delay both were Congressional freshmen. But the rest were longtime Obamacare supporters who’ve heard an earful from their constituents back home and need to save a little face before next year’s midterm elections.

Decorated Scientist Tells Senate Climate Change Not To Blame For Recent Disasters

Well, this must not have gone according to script.

A scientist testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week that global warming isn’t all it’s been cracked up to be.

Speaking at a Senate hearing on Thursday, atmospheric scientist Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado left a royal big one in liberal alarmists’ communal punch bowl by telling Senators it’s folly to believe that an increase in weather-related catastrophes is connected to global warming caused by humans.

The biggest problem with believing that all the thoroughly reported tornadoes, fires and floods owe their surging frequency to global warming is that… well, their frequency isn’t surging.

In fact, said Pielke, catastrophic weather events are actually on the decline — especially over the period of time liberal policymakers often point to as demonstrative of how global warming is accelerating the Earth toward a man-made climatic Armageddon.

Note from the Editor: Round two of the financial meltdown is predicted to reach global proportions, already adversely affecting Greece, Spain and most of Europe. It appears less severe in the states because our banks are printing useless fiat currency. I’ve arranged for readers to get two free books—Surviving a Global financial Crisis and Currency Collapse, plus How to Survive the Collapse of Civilization—to help you prepare for the worst. Click here for your free copies.

“It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally,” Pielke said. “It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases. Hurricanes have not increased in the U.S. in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900. The same holds for tropical cyclones globally since at least 1970.”

Pielke added that weather-related disasters are likely to exact an increasing economic burden on the United States, but not because they’re becoming more common. Rather, he said, it’s because urban populations are increasing and the level of development around population centers will continue to reflect more spending and, thus, more damage done whenever a populated area experiences a natural disaster.

“The absolute costs of disasters will increase significantly in coming years due to greater wealth and populations in locations exposed to extremes,” he said. “Consequent, disasters will continue to be an important focus of policy, irrespective of the exact future course of climate change.”

Republicans at the hearing made note of the fact that the Administration of President Barack Obama offered no testimony at the hearing, less than a month after the President announced an ambitious plan to combat man-made climate change in a speech in which he dismissed skeptics as “Flat Earth Society” cretins.

Count Pielke, an accomplished researcher who holds three college degrees and Germany’s Eduard Bruckner Prize for outstanding achievement in interdisciplinary climate research, among the flat earthers.

Michigan Judge Halts Detroit Bankruptcy; Sends Order To Barack Obama Because He ‘Bailed Out Detroit’

The Michigan Circuit Judge who blocked Detroit’s filing for bankruptcy protection put an exclamation point on her rulings, stipulating in her judgment Friday that President Barack Obama be sent a copy of her order, saying he “bailed out Detroit” and should be involved in figuring out how public employees’ pension funds won’t be raided to pay off creditors.

Aquilina was doubtless referencing the Obama Administration’s extension of $80 billion in loans, begun under George W. Bush, to automotive companies that hemorrhaged money in 2008 and 2009.

Under the judge’s order, Republican Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr can’t start talking with creditors about how to write off debt until the pensions of public employees can be guaranteed, as required by the Michigan State Constitution.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday the President has no plans to become involved in a bailout of what could be the biggest American city to file for bankruptcy in U.S. history. Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, was telling reporters in Washington “We don’t know at this point” if the government will step in.

Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) message was a bit less muddled Friday, as he said the President would bail out Detroit “over my dead body.”