Congress Is Getting Closer To Obama’s Smoking Gun On IRS Political Discrimination Scandal

The Internal Revenue Service chief counsel’s office in Washington, D.C., which is led by a political appointee of President Barack Obama, was directly involved in orchestrating the byzantine, discriminatory application process that targeted conservative groups seeking nonprofit, tax-exempt status, according to an IRS attorney.

The new information, provided by IRS attorney Carter Hull in interviews with Congressional investigators, represents the closest link (so far) between Obama and the starting point for the IRS’ discriminatory manipulation of political influence during the 2012 election season.

Hull said he had been told by his superiors that the chief counsel’s office wanted to review conservative groups’ applications in order to scrutinize the extent of their political activities. The agency’s chief counsel’s office is led by William J. Wilkins, a 2009 Obama political appointee.

Earlier reports already showed that Wilkins knew about the Tea Party discrimination in August of 2011, even though the IRS continued to target conservative groups well beyond that date. Wilkins also apparently didn’t think to notify the White House about the brewing scandal.

Hull’s information seems to indicate that Wilkins may have played a larger role in perpetrating the scandal than first reported. The IRS had said Wilkins wasn’t aware of the discrimination until the scandal broke this year, directly contradicting Hull’s revelation to members of Congress.

As chief counselor, Wilkins is one of the two Presidential appointees who hold positions within the IRS. The commissioner is the other. Douglas Shulman, who was appointed by George W. Bush, held that post from March 2008 until November 2012 — shortly before the start of Obama’s second term and only months before the scandal broke. His successor, Steven Miller, served as acting commissioner only until May of this year before resigning.

It’s fair to say that current acting commissioner Danny Werfel has inherited a mess.

Officer Charged For Assaulting Random Female Pedestrian, Knocking Her Teeth Out

A Texas police officer has been jailed after a police affidavit revealed he allegedly battered, without provocation, an innocent female pedestrian who happened to be walking near the scene of an unrelated late-night traffic stop.

The affidavit, written by another police officer who reviewed documentation of the May 29 incident, alleges Cpl. James Palermo of the San Marcos Police Department had stopped a car at about 1 a.m. for driving the wrong way on a one-way street. As he questioned the driver, he noticed the pedestrian — whom the affidavit alleges didn’t look at or talk to either Palermo or the stopped motorist and didn’t exhibit any “suspicious” behavior — and called her over to the scene, where he began questioning her about walking near the scene.

The woman, 22-year-old Texas State University student Alexis Alpha, told Palermo she didn’t believe she had done anything wrong. Their interaction became more acrimonious when she couldn’t immediately produce the identification Palermo allegedly had demanded.

As the officer dialed up the verbal heat, the victim allegedly advised him to conduct traffic stops elsewhere if he didn’t like where she was walking, called him a “dick” and observed that he appeared to simply be exorcising his pre-existing bad mood on her.

She had no idea.

Palermo allegedly responded by grabbing her, pushing her against the stopped motorist’s Toyota Prius, and then slamming her to the concrete, where he sat on her back. He allegedly cuffed her and placed her in his patrol vehicle, telling her she was being arrested for obstruction.

The assault knocked out two of Alpha’s teeth. Palermo took her to Central Texas Medical Center, where medical staff advised her she also had sustained a concussion and would need follow-up care, which could involve multiple surgeries. So Palermo took Alpha to the jail and slapped on two more charges: resisting arrest and public intoxication.

Alpha never filed a complaint over her assault. In fact, the police themselves discovered Palermo’s attack after reviewing footage from his patrol car’s dashboard video camera. The department obtained warrants for his arrest following an internal investigation and booked him into the Hays County Law Enforcement Center on July 16 for aggravated assault with serious bodily injury by a public servant — a first-degree felony that carries a possible maximum sentence of life in prison. He had been on paid administrative leave since the internal investigation had begun in early June, and is now on indefinite unpaid leave as the legal process unfolds.

San Marcos Police Chief Howard E. Williams told the San Marcos Mercury:

I won’t prejudge the [internal] investigation. I have not heard what the officer has to say yet and I’ll reserve judgment until that happens. But there are standards and I think it’s fairly obvious what we think about his conduct that night in that we were the ones that went down and filed the criminal charges. … I believe what he did was criminal.

Palermo, who had worked for the department since 2000, was the subject of a complaint two years ago alleging excessive use of force, but that complaint was dismissed.

Read the affidavit, filed by San Marcos Officer Penny Dunn, here.

California Senate Takes Up Digital License Plates That Can Track Movements, Collect Fees

The California State Senate is considering a statewide conversion to non-renewable digital license plates that would be able to collect electronic information, such as determining whether a motorist has pre-paid a road toll, in a bid to do away with what sponsors feel is the costly, inconvenient process of producing, distributing and renewing traditional license plates.

According to CBS San Francisco, Senate Bill 806 would establish a pilot program outfitting 160,000 vehicles with the new plates, which would essentially be computer screens with wireless capability.

A San Francisco-based startup company with lobbyists in Sacramento would supply (read: sell) the digital plates.

Advocates say the switch to digital would be convenient (no annual waiting at the DMV), cheap ($20 million a year less than traditional plates) and virtuous (the plates could issue Amber Alerts.)

Critics, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), say the plates could easily become a tool for warrantless, secret tracking of motorists’ movements.

“Law enforcement needs a warrant to be able to put a tracking device on your car,” said an EFF attorney. “It’s a possibility the way this program could be implemented, these smart plates could be that tracking device.”

California Senate Democrat Ben Hueso is sponsoring the bill.

Army Vet Refused Gun Permit For 42 Year-Old Drug Misdemeanor

A Texas man who served for 20 years in the U.S. Army after being convicted for a minor drug charge in 1971 was turned away from a local Walmart after attempting to purchase a .22-caliber rifle and failing a Federal background check for his 42 year-old offense.

According to a report from CBS Houston, Ron Kelly incurred the drug charge while still in high school and was sentenced to a year of probation. He enlisted in the Army two years later, and went on to obtain a top-secret security clearance.

“It is amazing that they won’t let me buy a gun for a misdemeanor 42 years ago,” he told The Houston Chronicle. “I am ashamed of the way my government has treated me. The government may have the greatest of intentions with the [law], but they messed it up.”

A Texas Rifle Association representative said it was “crazy” that such a minor blemish in the life of an American veteran – one who went on to fire cannon and machine guns as a soldier – could place him in the same company with felons and traitors as one who doesn’t meet the government’s standard for owning a firearm.

More troubling is the mystery surrounding how the FBI, which conducts Federal background checks, knew of the decades-old conviction. When the Chronicle checked with the North Carolina courthouse, police department and District Attorney to obtain a record of Kelly’s bygone run-in with the law, the paper was told records that old weren’t stored in a computer database, and very likely couldn’t be located.

Courts Keep Striking Down Obama Appointments; Rubio Stumbles; Reid Says ‘Climate Change’ Is Causing All The Fires; Even Jimmy Carter Hates PRISM; Obamacare Costs A Million Bucks – Thursday Morning News Roundup 7-18-2013

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

  • A third Federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that President Barack Obama violated the Constitution last year when he made recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, adding more weight to the case as it goes before the Supreme Court in the justices’ next session. Source: The Washington Times… 
  • Immigration reform — the very issue Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) thought would be a game-changing legacy-builder — looks like a big liability, at least right now. In the process, the self-confident Presidential hopeful suddenly looks wobbly, even a little weak, as he searches for what’s next. Source: POLITICO… 
  • Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday blamed “climate change” for the intense Southern Nevada blaze that consumed nearly 28,000 acres and drove hundreds of residents from their homes. “Why are we having them? Because we have climate change,” he said. “Things are different.” Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal…
  • Jimmy Carter criticized the American political system this week at an Atlanta speech, saying “America has no functioning democracy” and that “the invasion of privacy has gone too far — and I think that is why the secrecy [about the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities] was excessive.” Source: Spiegel Online… 
  • KSAT in San Antonio reports that a local businessman faces a $1 million Obamacare bill (with video). Source: The Weekly Standard…

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

California Sheriff Sued For Deadly Attack On Sleeping Man

The partner of a California man is suing the Kern County sheriff’s department after a May incident in which she alleges sheriff’s deputies attacked him while he slept in someone’s front yard and beat him to death, without the victim having ever had an opportunity to demonstrate that he was a potential threat to their safety.

Tara Garlick and the victim’s four children, three of whom Garlick has since obtained through an application for Guardian ad Litem custody, are suing Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and eight other individuals, including deputies allegedly involved in the May 17 beating that led to the death of her partner, David Sal Silva.

Garlick alleges the deputies first “knuckle-rubbed” the sleeping Silva and then began beating him with batons as he awoke in a panic. He was then allegedly attacked by a police dog and hog tied, and eventually stopped breathing. Knowing this, the officers allegedly neglected to seek immediate medical attention. Silva eventually ended up at a hospital, but it was too late.

From the filing:

On May 17, 2013, a sheriff’s deputy reported to a scene where a man was asleep on a front lawn. Upon arrival the sheriff’s deputy proceeded to knuckle-rub the sleeping man, causing the man to wake up in a panic. Immediately thereafter, this sheriff’s deputy, along with five other sheriff’s deputies and a sergeant, proceeded to strike this man with batons several times all over his body, while the man screamed in pain and repeatedly begged the officers to stop. At about this same time, a K-9 dog belonging to one of the sheriff’s deputies attacked the man. Eventually, the officers hog-tied the man. After the repeated beating by the sheriff’s deputies and biting by a deputy’s K-9 dog, the man eventually stopped breathing. Nonetheless, the sheriff’s deputies failed to immediately transport the man to a hospital despite the man’s apparent inability to breathe. Finally, after a significant delay the man was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:44 a.m. on May [1]8, 2013.

A witness told the local newspaper that her mother and another acquaintance each recorded portions of the incident using cellphone video cameras, but they were tracked down by detectives who allegedly barged into her sister’s home without a warrant, demanding — and obtaining — one of the phones. Their attempts to retrieve the other phone (the one used by the witness’ mother) were stalled when the woman refused to hand the device over without seeing a search warrant.

For a man to be asleep in someone’s front yard very likely suggests the possibility that he had compromised himself by taking substances legal or illegal, but that’s speculation. And even the biggest junkie in America doesn’t deserve to be attacked — let alone killed — by a gaggle of five deputies in the manner the lawsuit alleges.

Youngblood said later a pathologist had ruled Silva’s death an accident from “falling, hypertensive heart disease, and complications from being drunk and high on methamphetamines and other drugs.”

That certainly sounds like a lethal cocktail of illness, self-abuse and misfortune – one that doesn’t intuitively gibe with Youngblood’s assertion that Silva was menacing enough to require being hog tied and beaten.

Obama Tells Univision Audience He ‘Probably’ Can’t Grant Amnesty Over Congress

President Barack Obama told Univision this week that he “probably” wouldn’t resort to granting amnesty on a grand scale to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S.

“Probably not. I think that it is very important for us to recognize that the way to solve this problem has to be legislative. I can do some things and have done some things that make a difference in the lives of people by determining how our enforcement should focus,” Obama said.

But the President, who’s certainly not shy about broadly interpreting the Constitutional provisions that delegate unenumerated powers to the executive branch, could, in theory, invoke the power to pardon criminals as set forth in Article II, Section 2, which simply states “The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”

Obama’s words may have been intended as a veiled threat to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which is poised to shape a dramatically different vision for immigration reform than the liberal, omnibus bill that passed the Senate in late June.

Lindsey Graham Wants To Boycott Russia Winter Olympics Over Snowden

If Russia lets NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden stay in the country on a grant of political asylum, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wants President Barack Obama to boycott next year’s winter Olympics in the resort city of Sochi.

On Tuesday, Snowden requested temporary asylum in Russia – agreeing to a condition set by President Vladimir Putin that Snowden stop with the leaking of sensitive information about how the U.S. spy program vacuums up information about Americans’ private lives. As of late Wednesday, Russia had not approved or declined Snowden’s request.

Earlier Wednesday, Putin countered the notion that a grant of asylum, under his gag-order condition, would further mar already-frosty relations between Russia and the U.S. “Bilateral relations, in my opinion, are far more important than squabbles about the activities of the secret services,” he told reporters. “We warned Mr. Snowden that any action by him that could cause damage to Russian-American relations is unacceptable for us.”

Graham, sticking with the official line that Snowden’s a traitor and not a whistleblower, said any move by Russia to aid Snowden deserves a clear signal that the U.S. won’t tolerate its Cold War nemesis harboring a fugitive – and that an Olympic boycott makes for a terrific diplomatic tool.

“I would just send the Russians the most unequivocal signal I could send them. It might help, because what they’re doing is outrageous. We certainly haven’t reset our relationship with Russia in a positive way. At the end of the day, if they grant this guy asylum it’s a breach of the rule of law as we know it and is a slap in the face to the United States,” he told The Hill.

Even fellow RINO John McCain (R-Ariz.) thought Graham’s idea was about as smart as bringing a kitten to a dog fight. “I think the experience of canceling the Olympics the last time around [in the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Summer games] wasn’t very good,” said McCain.

Last month, Graham told Fox News he welcomed Verizon, his cell service provider, “turning over records to the government if the government’s going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States…I don’t think you’re talking to terrorists, I know you’re not, I know I’m not, so we don’t have anything to worry about.”

Brady Center Sues Georgia Town Over Mandatory Gun Law

Back in April, as rhetoric from the White House and some members of Congress on “gun control” was ramping up, the small town of Nelson, Ga., decided to take a stand on any possible attempts by outside lawmakers to restrict its residents’ 2nd Amendment freedom. It did so by passing an ordinance requiring the head of every household in town to own a gun and ammunition.

It was a partially symbolic move, but it also set in place a local law that assured residents their local leaders came down on the side of the Bill of Rights at a time when it looked as though Congress might buckle to pressure from President Barack Obama and the gun control lobby.

Nelson’s “Family Protection Ordinance” wasn’t intended to be enforced. And there were all kinds of exceptions for residents who held principled objections to owning guns, who couldn’t afford guns or who had committed crimes that made them ineligible to own guns. The town has only a single police officer, and he made clear he had more important things to keep him occupied than enforcing the gun ordinance.

But now the city is facing a Federal lawsuit filed by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which alleges the law, despite its provisions for residents to opt out, isn’t Constitutional because it requires something of people that the Constitutions enumerates as a freedom: not an obligation to the state. Never mind that the Brady Center’s own interpretation of the 2nd Amendment essentially castrates its power to arm the citizenry.

It appears that one of the town’s residents, who is also a member of the Brady center, didn’t think himself eligible for any of the exemptions that, under the ordinance, would have allowed him to continue to live without a gun, so he went out and bought one. He’s named in the lawsuit.

The Brady Center hasn’t sued Kennesaw, Ga., a larger Atlanta suburb only a few miles down the road from Nelson, even though Kennesaw has had the same type of ordinance on the books since 1982. The small Colorado town of Nucla also passed a similar ordinance in May, but there’s likewise been no interest from the gun control lobby — so far.

Government Regulations, Corporatism Kill Enterprising For-Profit Mass Transit

The government is once again interjecting a host of regulations into the busing industry, cowing to pressure from large motor carriers to set the bar impossibly high for dozens of startup companies that, until they were shuttered all at once by the DOT, were growing their businesses while efficiently satisfying rider demand.

The American busing industry is one long saga illustrative of what happens when the government intervenes to artificially stifle competition while paying hypocritical lip service to the importance of rider safety.

The most visible – and perhaps the most missed – casualty of the DOT’s March closure of 26 small bus companies is that of Fung Wah, a New York-to-Boston curbside pick-up service begun by Chinese immigrants in 1997. The company had a major rollover in 2006 that injured 34 people, along with several other accidents that drew scrutiny from safety watchdogs and, predictably, the Greyhounds and Peter Pans of the transportation world.

Reason has two in-depth pieces on the government’s insincere choke-out of small carriers in the name of public safety. Looking at highway safety stats for both buses and automobiles, the organization found that even the rattiest fleet of buses offers a better chance at getting passengers to their destinations unharmed than private automobiles do.

While horrific accidents occur periodically, buses are not only orders of magnitude safer than passenger cars, they’re safer than they’ve ever been thanks to engineering and manufacturing advances. There are about 34 fatal intercity bus accidents annually as compared to 23,000 fatal passenger car crashes. An unintended consequence of the regulatory onslaught is that higher ticket prices will lead fewer travelers to forgo their cars for the bus, making them far more likely to die on the highway. What safety-anxious parent would prefer their college offspring to catch a ride home in a car driven by a fellow student rather than take the bus?

… The new regulatory regime that ensnared Fung Wah is in danger of bringing intercity busing back to what it was like for much of the 20th century, when a cartel of large companies (particularly Greyhound) dominated a declining industry. President Reagan deregulated busing in 1982. That made it possible for Pei Lin Liang and others to open their own companies and reinvent the business 15 years later. The new competition forced Greyhound and the other big carriers to relearn how to fight for customers; with all the shutdowns, they won’t have to fight so hard.

The point isn’t that mass transit is some utopian alternative to be preferred over automobiles. Rather, it’s that the government is lying if it claims its newfound zeal for regulating the bus industry is about safety and not about influence/control/money.

Read both Reason articles: here, and here.

HUNGER! In America!! Congresswoman Says Her Food Stamp-less Constituents Have To Eat Dog Food To Survive

Representative Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) recently offered a poignant anecdote highlighting the human toll wrought by the pestilence and famine that has beset America, making an impassioned plea to her colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives last week to help the impoverished, destitute and hungry recipients of food stamps in her district, who have resorted to eating dog food when their monthly government food subsidy runs out.

On July 11, Wilson recounted her constituents’ anguished, demeaning battle for survival to illustrate the urgency of keeping the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the Farm Bill.

“Mr. Speaker, SNAP; Food Stamps – however you phrase it – is fundamental to the nutritional supplement to millions of Americans – black, white, feeble seniors, struggling mothers, disabled veterans and hungry children,” she said.

“Mr. Speaker, it was reported to me that there are seniors in my district who eat dog food when their food stamps run out. I was appalled and went to see for myself, and I was dumbfounded. I fixed the situation, but I’m sure that somewhere in America today some poor soul is relying on dog food to take them through the month…Mr. Speaker, please do not hurt or destroy what is a mainstay in the lives of so many Americans who are just trying to get by. Do not remove nutrition, including the food stamp program from the Farm Bill. It’s wrong, it’s punitive and it’s cruel.”

Nevertheless, the House turned a blind eye to the plight of starving Floridians whose profligacy with their food subsidies has left them wanting at the end of each SNAP cycle, passing the Farm Bill without the food stamp program on a 216-208 vote. The Administration of President Barack Obama, a strong advocate for SNAP and free food, has threatened to veto a Farm Bill that omits the lifesaving SNAP program.

CNS News found that a little consumer enlightenment might benefit both species:

Today, July 15, at a Bravo Supermarket in Miramar, Florida, for example, a can of Alpo Prime Cuts dog food is on sale for 89 cents. Conversely, Bravo Brand vegetables are on sale for 68 cents a can; 16 oz. packages of Goya pasta are 78 cents; and bananas are 33 cents a pound.

Looking at wholesale prices at a Sam’s Club in Miramar, Florida, a 24-pack of 13.2 oz. Alpo Prime Cuts dog food is $14.98 and Pedigree Choice Cuts dog food is $16.60. At the same Sam’s Club, an 8-pack of 15 oz. cans of peas and corn is $5.88.

It’s not known whether the dog population in Ms. Wilson’s district is yet in decline, as dogs and humans have been reduced to warring with each other over an increasingly scarce common food source. Animal rights groups have thus far been silent on the sad struggle between dog and man to secure store-bought dog food, one of the basic necessities of life. It’s also not been confirmed that those forced to eat dog food indeed included children – a condition we obviously can’t tolerate.

DOJ’s Cool With Political Espionage; D.C.’s ‘Living Wage’ Hypocrisy; Obamacare Company Under Investigation; Hermit Kingdom Busted Snooping Weapons Through Panama Canal – Tuesday Morning News Roundup 7-16-2013

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

  • The Treasury Department has admitted for the first time that confidential tax records of several political candidates and campaign donors were improperly scrutinized by government officials, but the Justice Department has declined to prosecute any of the cases. Source: The Washington Times…
  • Last week, the Washington, D.C., City Council approved a measure that would require Walmart and other large retailers doing business in the District to pay a “living wage” of $12.50 per hour. But… uh oh. Hypocrisy alert. District government pays less than $12.50 per hour. Source: NBC Washington…
  • The British government has launched an investigation of Serco Group, parent company of the firm recently awarded $1.2 billion to manage key elements of the rollout of Obamacare. Source: The Washington Post…
  • Panama on Monday stopped a North Korean vessel that President Ricardo Martinelli said had sailed from Cuba and tried to illegally sneak suspected sophisticated missile material through the Panama Canal. Source: France24…

 

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

Justice For Darryl: Where Are The Race Mongers?

There were 1,009 people murdered in Florida last year. The young black man who was shot on Feb. 26, 2012, by a “white Hispanic” in the town of Sanford isn’t one of them. A jury decided that.

But if you are famous, or if you are employed within the 24-hour mainstream news juggernaut, the chances are strong you disagree with that jury’s decision — or at least you find it in your interest to say you do. Sensible people were sick of the unmerited attention the Florida case received the day it was reported outside local news. But those people are pretty inured to media’s aspirational attempt to set the tone for what’s worth talking about, and they’ve had their hearing aids switched off for a long time. Would that there were more of them, but the bell curve of human nature eternally says “no.”

People in this country are shot and killed every day, every hour. Close to three people were murdered in Florida every day in 2012. No one outside their sphere movement while they lived, along with a few cops and lawyers, will ever know or care who any of them were. It’s likely that most of those deaths were unjust. It’s possible that some of them were unjust manifestations of burgeoning racial hatred.

The media doesn’t care about the victims of crime. The elected class doesn’t care about the victims of crime. A great many cultural leaders and highly visible famous people don’t care. But they do care about manipulating outrage, because their authoritative voices in times of manufactured hardship help to consolidate their profit, their legal power and their brand recognition.

Contrived, emotionless proxy outrage makes power more powerful and, too often in America, makes profit more profitable. In America, political and cultural leaders don’t need smart followers anymore — in fact, they’re a liability. The leaders are preaching sermons in hoodies and pretending to fantasize on Twitter about violent karmic payback for the exonerated. Turn off your hearing aid.

So comes conservative-slant news agency Breitbart, which evidently went to some effort to locate a separate, recent American murder story in which the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death make his apotheosis a complete, airtight foil to counter that of the sainted Florida victim. Breitbart Editor-At-Large Ben Shapiro’s synopsis of the crime, as well the moral parallel he draws, are subtle like an anvil:

On Thursday, July 11, police discovered the rotting body of 17-year-old Darryl Green, a black child from the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Green’s body was found behind a boarded-up house in the 6500-block of South Damen, face down on basement stairs. The body was so badly decomposed that originally, local news reports suggested that he had died of blunt force trauma. On Friday, an autopsy showed he had been shot to death. Relatives reported that Green had refused to join a gang at school.

Meanwhile, members of the media including Reverend Al Sharpton and Reverend Jesse Jackson focused on the “not guilty” verdict in [the Florida case]. The only media outlets that have covered the murder of Darryl Green are The Chicago Sun-Times and ABC 7 Chicago. The New York Times’ Joe Nocera mentioned Green in passing in a blog post devoted to highlighting gun crimes across the country. President Obama has not commented on Green’s death. Neither have any other politicians, including local Congressmen Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, or Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Neither has anyone at MSNBC, CNN, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, The Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters, or throughout the Hollywood community.

Swapping one red herring tragedy for its antithesis, Shapiro also set up the first #JusticeForDarryl message, which had been retweeted about 700 times Monday afternoon. As distasteful as it might be to co-opt a local tragedy — one of hundreds in Chicagoland — to prove a point, it’s a pretty powerful point. The whole kaboom over the death of one young man in Florida was never about principle. And that’s why Green’s death, which is the very definition of hatred running roughshod over principle, is likely to remain a local tragedy. It simply doesn’t fit a narrative anyone in the American exploitative class can use.

No Love Lost As Big Sis Heads For Big Sur

The Center for Security Policy (CSP), a self-described bipartisan nonprofit research and advocacy coalition, chided President Barack Obama in a press release Friday, calling on the White House to chart a different domestic security course than the one set by Janet Napolitano.

As Napolitano departs her cabinet position as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to head the University of California system, the CSP offered the President some advice: “[N]ominate a replacement for Napolitano that takes into account, especially, the failures of her counter-terror strategy.”

The CSP correctly notes that, under Obama, the DHS has actually subverted its stated mission of ferreting out terror threats fueled by Islamist extremism, preferring instead to neglect any investigation that might insinuate a link between a terror cell and Islam:

As Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano oversaw a hyper-partisan leveling of her department’s awareness of the domestic terrorist threats we face, scandalously equating Tea Party conservatives and returning veterans with Islamists intent on advancing shariah in this country.

Under her watch, DHS came in line with the Obama administration’s failed and highly ideological approach to counter-terrorism; its Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) strategy wiped clean any attempts to identify the enemy we face. The imperative of Napolitano’s CVE, in fact, was less to adequately prevent homegrown Islamist terror attacks but to prevent any association of terrorism with Islam, no matter the cost.

Replacing accurate analysis of Islamic jihad with the meaningless “violent extremism” was part of an administration-wide effort to understand and reflect the grievances of local Muslim communities. Community engagement became more important than counter-terror policing, as career subject matter experts who correctly identified the nexus between jihad and acts of terror were silenced and purged. With the makeup of Napolitano’s CVE Advisory Board — including a who’s-who of Muslim Brotherhood-linked individuals — this strategy is unsurprising.

The Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of 9/11 to unify efforts to combat terrorism against Americans. The Center for Security Policy urges President Obama to nominate a replacement for Napolitano that takes into account, especially, the failures of her counter-terror strategy.

That’s a fine suggestion. Here’s another: Abolish the DHS (for starters).

Teamsters Union Balks On Obamacare

Teamsters Union president James Hoffa sent an open letter to President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last week warning them that he’s all but decided to pull his support from the Affordable Care Act if it reneges on the President’s promise that workers happy with their present coverage could continue it once the law takes effect.

Saying Obamacare now threatens to “destroy”Americans’ health and fundamentally change the 40-hour work week, Hoffa’s letter bears the tone of an ultimatum. Here’s the letter in its entirety, printed in a July 12 story for The Wall Street Journal:

Dear Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi:

When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.

Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios:

First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.

Second, millions of Americans are covered by non-profit health insurance plans like the ones in which most of our members participate. These non-profit plans are governed jointly by unions and companies under the Taft-Hartley Act. Our health plans have been built over decades by working men and women. Under the ACA as interpreted by the Administration, our employees will treated differently and not be eligible for subsidies afforded other citizens. As such, many employees will be relegated to second-class status and shut out of the help the law offers to for-profit insurance plans.

And finally, even though non-profit plans like ours won’t receive the same subsidies as for-profit plans, they’ll be taxed to pay for those subsidies. Taken together, these restrictions will make non-profit plans like ours unsustainable, and will undermine the health-care market of viable alternatives to the big health insurance companies.

On behalf of the millions of working men and women we represent and the families they support, we can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.

We believe that there are common-sense corrections that can be made within the existing statute that will allow our members to continue to keep their current health plans and benefits just as you and the President pledged. Unless changes are made, however, that promise is hollow.

We continue to stand behind real health care reform, but the law as it stands will hurt millions of Americans including the members of our respective unions.

We are looking to you to make sure these changes are made.

You know things have gotten bad for Obamacare when the unions – among the law’s most ardent supporters in the early sledding – are now jumping ship.

Is Government Laying The Groundwork For Propagandist State Media?

The law that has long kept government-supported media outlets – such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe – from being broadcast here in the U.S. was repealed on July 2nd with President Barack Obama’s signing of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

In practical terms, that means that propagandist state media outlets ostensibly funded by taxpayers can now be aimed at the very taxpayers who’re funding them, right here in the U.S. Supporters of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 – the embedded legislation that lifted the ban – say the change actually opens the government to greater scrutiny by sharing with all the Nation the propaganda it’s been piping over to Europe, the Middle East and everywhere else but here.

Lynne Weil, a spokesperson for the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (that’s a government agency) said that Americans would now “be able to know more about what they are paying for with their tax dollars – greater transparency is a win-win for all involved.”

Benevolent, no doubt. But John Hudson of Foreign Policy magazine offers a nice reminder of just how inevitable abuse is for government to begin interjecting its own voice in an effort to subvert the domestic enemies of the ruling class or to sell policy with half-truths (or outright lies):

[I]f anyone needed a reminder of the dangers of domestic propaganda efforts, the past 12 months provided ample reasons. Last year, two USA Today journalists were ensnared in a propaganda campaign after reporting about millions of dollars in back taxes owed by the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan. Eventually, one of the co-owners of the firm confessed to creating phony websites and Twitter accounts to smear the journalists anonymously. Additionally, just this month, The Washington Post exposed a counter propaganda program by the Pentagon that recommended posting comments on a U.S. website run by a Somali expat with readers opposing [al-Quaeda group] Al-Shabaab.

 

Most Want Free Market, Not Regulations, To Dictate Healthcare Costs

A poll that sampled 1,000 Americans last week revealed that 62 percent don’t want healthcare prices set by government mandates or well-intentioned policies, and that the free market offers a better opportunity for striking a desirable balance between healthcare quality and healthcare costs.

That’s hardly a revelation. It’s just another dollop of evidence atop a mountain of studies and surveys, as well as editorials, talk-radio rants and millions of anecdotes (just about everyone, it seems, knows a local doctor who’s planning an early retirement to escape the imminent mess) that collectively demonstrate the confusion and destruction Obamacare is set to wreak not only on the quality and cost of healthcare, but on patient choice as well.

For all the injustice evident in our current, corrupt feedback loop of doctors, insurers and Big Pharma, there’s still a reason Americans don’t like socialized medicine. It limits quality of care, asks people who aren’t sick to pay for treating people who are and takes crucial liberties out of patients’ (and even doctors’) hands.

Look across the Atlantic, where a prominent member of the British Medical Association said the country’s debt-ridden National Health Service (NHS) is worse than “communist China” in leashing doctors and handing bureaucrats the decision-making control over operational policies that directly affect what diagnoses and treatments patients can receive.

The NHS system faces a shutdown of 20 hospitals throughout Britain as it struggles under a growing debt set to top $50 billion within the next decade. The impact of the financial crunch has meant three-month waits (often the difference between life and death) for cancer treatments and warnings that a present-day bailout of British healthcare would dwarf that of Cyprus — not of Cypriot hospitals, but the whole country.

Reading British healthcare officials’ comments is a depressingly Kafkaesque trudge through the lamentations of administrative bosses set within hierarchies pitched against one another in ridiculous power struggles, white noise about what a disservice everything is to the patients and vindictive glances to the past to assign blame along partisan lines. Kind of like watching C-SPAN when the U.S. Senate is in session. Expect the same sort of buzz to filter to these shores, for good, unless Obamacare is repealed.

James Clapper Lies to Congress; Congress Says ‘That’s Cool’

Back in March, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied when asked by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) whether the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting “any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans” by saying, “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not willingly.”

That was before the NSA PRISM scandal broke and exposed the obvious lie.

Clapper spent the next couple of months getting beat up by mostly-conservative online media before issuing a ridiculous apology last week in which he claimed, when answering Wyden, he “simply didn’t think of” the Patriot Act and its broad authorizations (and expansions upon its original powers) that either permit or forgive almost any warrantless spying the Federal government undertakes.

But as the scandal has turned into a circus, it appears the threat of perjury some GOP Congressmen had rhetorically threatened has fallen by the wayside. Wyden and other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee appear to have taken the side of Big Brother in vilifying leaker Edward Snowden, while closing ranks in giving both Clapper and the NSA a pass.

Ben Shapiro of Breitbart wrote Friday:

 Both parties in Congress have declined to do anything about Clapper’s possible perjury. Sen. Wyden and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) did not call for his removal; Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Reps. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-CA) have all declined to comment. “This administration views [NSA leaker Edward] Snowden as the problem, not Gen. Clapper,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

Spying on millions of Americans and lying about it to Congressional overseers? Hey, we’re all friends. Go home; relax.

Allegedly lying to Congress about getting an extra spring in your step while you played a silly children’s game with a bat and ball? Indictment.

 

Selling Public Office: Presidential Campaign Donors Rewarded With Posh Embassy Appointments

President Barack Obama’s penchant for appointing top campaign fundraisers to cherry positions inside luxe American embassies in the capitals of allied nations isn’t a new abuse of American Presidential power; it’s simply an expansion on a trend that’s begun to tick off our friends and frustrate advocates for reform here at home.

Nile Gardiner of Britain’s The Telegraph summed up the feeling in a column indicting the Obama Administration’s “selling of public office” Wednesday:

The Obama administration will claim this is no big deal. After all, previous US administrations, both Democrat and Republican, have also rewarded major donors with plum diplomatic posts.

But long-standing precedent doesn’t mean the practice of rewarding party fundraisers is in any way ethical or right, and it certainly doesn’t serve American interests.

The appointment of Matthew Barzun and other major fundraisers to key diplomatic posts is an insult to the American people, as well as an insult to the countries to which they are being sent.

Who’s Matthew Barzun? Well, for one thing, he’s not a diplomat; and he certainly lacks any connection to Britain. He’s a former Obama campaign finance chairman who helped the President raise $700 million for his re-election bid, including $2.3 million out of his own funds. That all happened after Obama had rewarded him for similar work in the 2008 race by appointing him as ambassador to Sweden, another honorific that placed Barzun at the front of a line of vastly more qualified career diplomats. Barzun’s nomination still must be confirmed by the Senate.

In all, Obama has sent 18 of his biggest fundraisers to American embassy posts since 2009. But his friends don’t end up in dangerous, destabilized places (like, say, Benghazi, Libya); they go to London, Paris and Rome.

For conservatives, lambasting Obama has become a straw man pastime; it’s too easy. But this sort of abuse of office has been slowly creeping into the culture of the American Presidency, and Obama is only building on a perverse tradition laid down by immediate predecessors hailing from both major parties.

According to the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), 89 of Obama’s 276 ambassador nominations — 32 percent — have been “political” appointees, with the rest going to “real” diplomats. Slain Libya ambassador Christopher Stevens was one such “real” diplomat, having joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1991 and having served in multiple roles in several Mideast countries.

Those numbers are very much in keeping with precedents set by George W. Bush (28 percent political, 72 percent diplomatic); Bill Clinton (26 percent political, 74 percent diplomatic); George H. W. Bush (31 percent political, 69 percent diplomatic); and Ronald Reagan (33 percent political, 67 percent diplomatic).

“Now is the time to end the spoils system and the de facto ‘three-year rental’ of ambassadorships,” the AFSA asserts in a statement on its website. “The United States is alone in this practice; no other major democracy routinely appoints non-diplomats to serve as envoys to other countries.”

GOP To Harry Reid: Go Nuclear, And It’ll Bite You In 2014

Republican Senators have threatened Majority Leader Harry Reid that they’ll stall every attempt at passing legislation until after midterm elections, if he invokes the so-called “nuclear option” that would change Senate rules to allow a simple 51-vote majority vote to end a Republican-threatened filibuster.

“If Senator Reid changes the character of the Senate, then the Senate ceases to function. We’ll take our case to the people, we’ll argue for a new majority and then Republicans will be in a position to do whatever Republicans with 51 votes want to do,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) Thursday.

Reid’s “nuclear” threat stems from GOP Senators’ warnings that they’ll use a filibuster to halt the nomination of several of President Barack Obama’s nominees.

In other words, turnabout is fair play – and if the Republican Party regains control of the full Congress in 2014, expect Obama’s final two years in office to be a prison sentence, as the President watches Congress dismantle signature legislation like the Dodd-Frank Act and Obamacare.

H/T: The Hill

Ohio School System Allows Concealed Carry For Teachers

The board of education for an Ohio school district has approved a concealed carry policy for teachers in the 1,300-student system.

The school board of the Newcomerstown Exempted Village school district approved the change for the upcoming academic year after parents of students attending the system’s four schools urged changes that would equip faculty and staff to answer a hypothetical active-shooter scenario by shooting back.

In order for selected employees of the school system to carry a concealed weapon on campus, they must complete training and certification by the local sheriff’s department each year, and must possess a concealed carry permit.

In order to ensure the program assuages possible criticism that teachers aren’t supposed to double as law enforcement officers, or that bad guys could plan a mass shooting around knowledge they might gain about how the program is carried out among the faculty, the board is keeping quiet about specifics.

“Our school safety plan is not public record for obvious reasons,” said Board President Jerry Lahmers “We also want to protect the safety of the individuals [carrying guns], so that they don’t become targets, if such a situation does occur. We hope that this policy will act as a deterrent. The policy is intended to provide that extra last margin of safety.”

H/T: Reason

Charging Zimmerman; Texas Gold; Britain’s Panopticon; ‘High’ Taxes; Secession In The Wild West – Thursday Morning News Roundup 7-11-2013

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

  • Prosecutors in George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial want to ask jurors to consider lesser charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter as closing statements are underway today. Source: Associated Press
  • Texas’ oil output has doubled in less than three years, putting it in the ranks of OPEC heavy-hitters like Venezuela, Kuwait and Nigeria. Source: FuelFix
  • The British Security Industry Authority (BSIA) estimated there are up to 5.9 million closed-circuit television cameras in the country, including 750,000 in “sensitive locations” such as schools, hospitals and care homes. That’s one per 11 people. Source: The Telegraph
  • The taxes on recreational marijuana might go a lot higher than first thought. Smokers buying at shops in Denver may pay up to 35 percent in taxes. Source: CBS Denver
  • More From Colorado: Secessionists are pushing to create a 51st state out of parts of northeast Colorado, as this year’s legislative session underscored a growing urban-rural divide over State policy on a number of issues – but especially gun control. Source: CBS Denver

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

Schools Expelling Michelle O’s Austere, Expensive Lunch Program

Michelle Obama pushed hard to get the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFK) passed by Congress in 2010. And it did pass. Who wants kids to be hungry?

The Act authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USAD) to revamp the nutritional criteria for public school lunches and expanded the free school lunch program. The USDA estimates it will cost $3.2 billion to completely implement the nutritional changes nationwide over a five-year span. The free lunch expansion increases the Federal government’s $11 billion annual allotment for lunch subsidies by more than $1 billion per year.

But as quickly as many public schools have begun adopting new standards that replace traditional menu offerings with things like “part of” a chicken patty on a little croissant and arugula pizza, they’ve often just as quickly abandoned the program.

Why? Because kids hate it, it’s too expensive for the schools, the lunches themselves cost more for paying students, and cafeterias are losing money as kids continue to resort to bringing lunch from home in order to stave off hunger and eat what they choose.

It was reported Tuesday that the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district in New York dropped the program after losing $100,000 implementing the new Federal menu, but it’s only the most recent district to have left Obama’s attempted food fiat in the dust. Schools in Wisconsin, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Iowa, Kansas — pretty much everywhere, in other words — are either ditching the program or wrestling with angry students and parents in an effort to stay the course.

As with all nanny programs, the 850 calorie-maximum school lunch scheme is fraught with hypocrisy.

“The voluminous menu that’s good enough for the federal bureaucrats’ cafeteria should be good enough for our children’s school lunchroom,” said Senator Tim Huselkamp (R-Kan.), an ardent HHFK opponent, in April. “If USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack thinks the federal government should dictate what local governments put on their school lunchroom menus, why isn’t he leading by example? Secretary Vilsack should impose his ‘Nutrition Nanny’ standards on the USDA buildings’ cafeteria menus before the USDA seizes control of lunchroom menus in 100,000 school districts.”