Obama Does Damage Control; European Romance Shattered; China & Russia On A Boat; Muslim Brotherhood Digs In For Morsi; Dems Run For The Hills As Obamacare Looms — Tuesday Morning News Roundup 7-2-2013

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

  • President Barack Obama has sought to limit the damage from the growing transatlantic espionage row after Germany and France denounced the major snooping activities of U.S. agencies and warned of a possible delay in the launch next week of ambitious free-trade talks between Europe and the U.S. Source: The Guardian… 
  • It has taken a long time, but the world’s fantasies about Barack Obama are finally crumbling. In Europe, once the headquarters of the global cult of Obama, Monday’s newspapers were full of savage quotes about the perfidy of the Obama-led U.S. Source: Financial Times…
  • China will join Russia later this week for its largest-ever naval drills with a foreign partner, underlining deepening ties between the former Cold War rivals along with Beijing’s desire for closer links with regional militaries. Source: The Guardian… 
  • A member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party addressed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s supporters on Tuesday, calling on them to sacrifice themselves in defense of Morsi’s legitimacy in the face of millions of demonstrators who demand an end to his rule. Source: Egypt Independent… 
  • With just three months away from the Oct. 1 enrollment start date, nothing about the Obamacare implementation process should be politically encouraging for Democrats. In fact, the more people learn about Obamacare, the more frightened they become. Source: Washington Post…

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Concealed Carry Dawns In Violent, ‘Gun-Free’ Chicago

Over the objection of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, it will soon be legal to carry a concealed weapon on the streets of Chicago.

The change in the law comes via the actions of conservatives in the Illinois Legislature, as well as from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that discarded a Chicago “carve-out” exemption that would have continued to allow Cook County and its municipalities to pass broad gun bans. A supermajority of the State Legislature passed a “veto-proof” concealed carry bill in January, making Illinois a “shall-issue” State in spite of the Governor’s strident opposition. Under the law, the State police are responsible for the licensing process, a prerogative that can’t be usurped by municipal fiat.

While 2nd Amendment supporters aren’t crazy about Illinois’ gun laws in general, those among Cook County’s 358,000 gun owners (yes, that number represents those who are “registered”) can at least expect the same measure of protection (or infringement) under the State’s mechanism for regulating gun ownership as that enjoyed by residents everywhere else in Illinois.

Under the new law, the Illinois State Police shall issue a concealed carry license to “any gun owner with a state-issued Firearm Owners Identification [FOI] card, who passes a background check, pays a $150 fee, and undergoes 16 hours of training.” FOI permits must be renewed every five years, and guns are still outlawed in government buildings and on college and school campuses.

On the bright side, any municipality that takes steps to add its own regulations on top of the State gun law faces a per-day penalty of $10,000 per occurrence — even Chicago.

Palin: Leaving GOP An Option For Conservatives Who’ve Had Enough

Conservatives’ frustration over mainstream Republican response to expanded government surveillance, immigration reform, and financial and administrative bloat leaves them with few options for effecting fundamental changes via the traditional political process — at least as long as that process is dominated by two political parties that are, especially on the national level, often indistinguishable.

Sarah Palin intimated Saturday on FOX News that the time may be near when conservatives disenfranchised by elected leaders who represent their interests less poorly than a more liberal opponent, but still not well, may wake up and realize that the modern American political landscape is a product of citizens’ own making and that it should be changed.

 

Palin reminded viewers that Republican and Democrat are appellations affixed to private political parties, that they don’t entwine with any founding document or Constitutional charter, and that nothing prevents Americans from organizing new parties and movements if they’re fed up with how far the collective ideology of the ruling class has strayed from its primary role of enacting the will of the people.

“Remember, these are private parties, and no one’s forcing us to be enlisted in either party,” she said. “If the GOP continues to back away from the planks in our platform, then, yeah, more and more of us are gonna start saying, ‘You know, what’s wrong with being an independent?’ — kind of that libertarian streak that much of us have.

“In other words, we want government to back off and not infringe upon our rights. I think there will be a lot of us who start saying, ‘GOP, if you abandon us, we have nowhere else to go except to become more independent and not enlisted in one or the other of the private majority parties that rule in our Nation — either Democrat or Republican.’”

Palin pointed to the Senate’s hasty passage of a bipartisan immigration bill, which lawmakers passed without having read through it, as a prime example of both parties’ summary disregard for the electors who placed them in Washington, D.C.

“I think that Republicans who caved, along with Democrats who caved in to [President Barack] Obama’s wishes to legalize illegal aliens, is a matter of a lack of principle and respect for the rule of law. This was an absolute betrayal of working-class Americans who do respect the rule of law and [of] legal immigrant who have come here, stood in line and paid their dues — that’s some of the hypocrisy of our permanent political class in Washington, D.C., which is such an indication of such a problem about abandonment of what we, the people, expect from our representatives and those whom we elect to fulfill the will of the people.”

The stranglehold the two-party system has had on the quadrennial popularity contest known as the Presidential election showed brief signs of weakening in 2008 and in subsequent midterm elections. But even though the Tea Party movement drove a wedge between some RINO politicians and their conservative constituents, it often meant different things (Is the Tea Party about small government only, or does it embrace social conservatism across the board?) to people in different States.

Going forward, can conservatives’ frustrations galvanize future leaders — and their electors — in a more organized fashion? And, if so, will the idealism of a conservative party’s constituents get in the way of the necessary bureaucratic operational mechanics required for a modern political party to function on a national scale? Or will conservatives, as Palin suggests, be content with a grass-roots approach, backing independent candidates and winning small political victories here and there, biding their time until there’s finally sufficient will among our elected leaders to reform the underpinnings of America’s morally bankrupt two-party system?

Obama’s $7 Billion “Power Africa” Energy Scheme

President Barack Obama revealed a plan to bring electricity to sub-Saharan Africa on a massive scale Sunday, pledging $7 billion in Federal funds to a new program he said will bring “light where there is currently darkness.”

Under the President’s “Power Africa” program, the U.S. will commit to funding the expansion of the region’s infrastructure by undertaking projects that ambitiously seek to double the reach of the electrical grid. The President’s own assessment of the project pinpoints the overall capital investment needed to accomplish that goal at $300 billion.

Obama announced the initiative Sunday at a stop on his African itinerary in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age,” said the President. “It’s the light that children study by, the energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business. It’s the lifeline for families to meet their most basic needs, and it’s the connection that’s needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy.”

More than 85 percent of rural sub-Saharan Africa has no electrical infrastructure, affecting approximately two-thirds of the population.

Critics fret that such massive American investment in an area with a history of political instability (to say the least) could result in giving power players in regional conflicts a new, high-stakes trophy to justify more civil strife.

California Sheriff Strips Feds Of Enforcement Authority Over 2nd Amendment Rights

John D’Agostini, Sheriff of El Dorado County, Calif., has revoked the authority of U.S. Forest Service officers to enforce State law within his countywide jurisdiction. The new policy is set to kick in July 22.

D’Agostini said he made the decision after hearing numerous complaints from visitors to the El Dorado National Forest who reported being stopped by Forestry officers and questioned about their activities on Federal public lands. Complainants said the Federal officers showed particular interest in whether they were carrying guns.

“They want to know what you’re doing here, where you’re going, do you have any firearms on board?” park visitor Cory Ward told CBS Sacramento.

D’Agostini said he takes seriously the “style and manner of service we provide” to citizens and visitors, and that the Forest Service, “after many attempts and given many opportunities, has failed to meet that standard.”

A Forest Service representative is set to meet with D’Agostini this Wednesday in an attempt to resolve the standoff, but legal experts say the Sheriff is within his rights to supersede the Feds on determining whether they can enforce State law in his county.

‘A Victory For Common Sense’: Charges Dropped Against Teen Who Wore NRA Shirt To School

More than two months after 14-year-old West Virginia student Jared Marcum wore a National Rifle Association T-shirt to Logan Middle School, criminal charges stemming from his refusal to take off the shirt have been dropped.

Logan County Circuit Judge Eric O’Briant dismissed a charge of obstruction last Thursday, following an agreement struck with prosecutors and school faculty that there was no point in creating a criminal record for Jared, whose behavioral record as a student was previously unblemished.

(Side note: It took two months for adults to reach that conclusion?)

Prosecutors had been forging ahead in the case as recently as Monday of last week, when Jared was summoned back into court after the State had requested a gag order against both Jared and his father, Allen Lardieri, who had appeared on several television stations discussing the case.

Prosecutors had claimed the order was for the defendant’s own protection, but defense attorney Ben White found that a risible argument, saying it was simply a PR move designed “to take it [the case] out of the court of public opinion.”

Jared was immediately suspended following the T-shirt incident, during which he continued talking about how his 1st Amendment rights were being violated after band teacher David Burroway, who evidently wasn’t too keen on the 2nd Amendment, told him to stop arguing about changing shirts. But the then-eighth-grader’s persistence in voicing his beliefs incurred an obstruction charge.

Upon his return to school, Jared’s fellow students signaled their solidarity by wearing their own NRA T-shirts to class, with no opposition from school administrators.

“I think, with the gun issue, with what is going on, this is a victory for common sense,” White told WOWK-TV after the charges had been dropped. Jared’s parents have indicated they will file a civil suit against the school system.

Sanity Prevails: Traffic Cams Come Down; Judge Holds Ohio Town In Contempt

An Ohio judge has slapped town leaders in the Village of Elmwood Place, a Cincinnati suburb, with a contempt charge and has ordered the county sheriff’s office to dismantle and impound the traffic monitoring cameras the town had been using to ticket speeders.

Elmwood Place must also pay for storage fees incurred by the impoundment, and it must refund money it has collected from alleged speeders “caught” by the cameras since they were installed in September.

Judge Robert Ruehlman made the ruling last week at a contempt hearing in which he found both the town and the camera company — Maryland-based Optotraffic — in violation of an injunction in place since March. That’s when Ruehlman found the cameras UnConstitutional and barred the town from operating the cameras and collecting any more fees from motorists.

Under its service contract, the town was collecting 60 percent of revenues from the camera-generated tickets, with Optotraffic taking the rest. But the judge slammed both parties after learning the town had turned the cameras back on, ostensibly only to collect traffic data, and had continued to accept an additional $48,000 in fines from motorists who had come in to pay off outstanding tickets, at $105 a pop, after the date of the original injunction.

Drivers paid their fines through Optotraffic, and town officials said refunds will have to be issued from data the company maintains, since no one in Elmwood Place has any record of who received a ticket. Overall, the town and contractor have collected more than $1.7 million in camera-based ticket fines since the devices were installed.

Ruehlman called the ticketing program “a scam that the motorists can’t win.”

“The entire case against the motorist is stacked because the speed monitoring device is calibrated and controlled by Optotraffic,” he wrote.

The Ohio House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a ban on red light and speeding camera enforcement last Wednesday, sending the legislation to the State Senate for approval. If passed, only mobile camera enforcement within school zones, during restricted hours, would be permitted.

The Columbus Dispatch lamented the House vote in an editorial, calling the ban “reckless lawmaking” that places individual freedom over public safety.

[T]he Ohio House on Wednesday threw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s now up to the Senate to block House Bill 69, a wholesale ban of an important law-enforcement tool… Sure, many drivers hate these cameras. But as a result, most change their driving behavior for the better. For lawmakers to cave to populist sentiment by helping people skirt safety laws is bad policy.

An untold number of Ohioans have been spared accidents and are still around to complain about their tickets. The Senate should recognize that it is being asked to make roads less safe and reject this bill.

A leading Senate Republican said he favors banning the cameras, but can’t predict how the bill will fare in the Senate.

Bloomberg: Stop-And-Frisk Is Great; Start Targeting Blacks More, Whites Less

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the city police department’s unConstitutional stop-and-frisk policy on his weekly radio show Friday, but confused his fellow liberals when he stopped to add this:

I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they say. I don’t know where they [opponents of the policy] went to school but they certainly didn’t take a math course. Or a logic course.

Ouch. Bloomberg was basing his comments on statistics that point to blacks and Hispanics as the suspected perpetrators of 90 percent of murders in New York last year. The same stats estimate 87 percent of all stop-and-frisk stops targeted blacks and Hispanics, while 9 percent targeted whites.

Stop-and-frisk authorizes NYPD officers to stop citizens in public without probable cause and search their persons and their belongings.

Senate Panel: Is NSA Watching Americans Buy Guns? Books? Tools? Aspirin?

A group of Senators from both political parties is investigating whether the National Security Agency (NSA) has been mining data on Americans’ purchasing habits, focusing especially on firearms and media consumption.

The 26-member group sent a letter Thursday to NSA Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, asking him to explain how, and to what extent, the agency grabs up data generated from citizens’ network-based credit transactions, banking data, library records and pharmacy visits.

Asserting that the U.S. Patriot Act authorized surveillance methods that hid government’s broad reach from both American citizens and the limiting influence of Congressional oversight, the Senators question both the efficacy and the legality of relying on the Patriot Act as a rubber-stamp search tool for the vast majority of Americans who aren’t suspected of a crime.

The PATRIOT Act’s business records authority is very broad in its scope. It can be used to collect information on credit card purchases, pharmacy records, library records, firearm sales records, financial information, and a range of other sensitive subjects. And the bulk collection authority could potentially be used to supersede bans on maintaining gun owner databases, or laws protecting the privacy of medical records, financial records, and records of book and movie purchases. These other types of bulk collection could clearly have a significant impact on Americans’ privacy and liberties as well.

It has been suggested that the privacy impact of particular methods of domestic surveillance should be weighed against the degree to which the surveillance enhances our national security. With this in mind, we are interested in hearing more details about why you believe that the bulk phone records collection program provides any unique value.

…[W]e are concerned that by depending on secret interpretations of the PATRIOT Act that differed from an intuitive reading of the statute, this program essentially relied for years on a secret body of law. Statements from senior officials that the PATRIOT Act authority is “analogous to a grand jury subpoena” and that the NSA “[doesn’t] hold data on US citizens” had the effect of misleading the public about how the law was being interpreted and implemented.

This prevented our constituents from evaluating the decisions that their government was making, and will unfortunately undermine trust in government more broadly.

The letter is blunt in asking many of the same questions Americans outraged by the (known) scope of the NSA’s surveillance methods want to ask:

  • How long has the NSA used PATRIOT Act authorities to engage in bulk collection of Americans’ records? Was this collection underway when the law was reauthorized in 2006?
  • Has the NSA used USA PATRIOT Act authorities to conduct bulk collection of any other types of records pertaining to Americans, beyond phone records?
  • Has the NSA collected or made any plans to collect Americans’ cell-site location data in bulk?
  • Have there been any violations of the court orders permitting this bulk collection, or of the rules governing access to these records? If so, please describe these violations.
  • Please identify any specific examples of instances in which intelligence gained by reviewing phone records obtained through Section 215 bulk collection proved useful in thwarting a particular terrorist plot.
  • Please provide specific examples of instances in which useful intelligence was gained by reviewing phone records that could not have been obtained without the bulk collection authority, if such examples exist.
  • Please describe the employment status of all persons with conceivable access to this data, including IT professionals, and detail whether they are federal employees, civilian or military, or contractors.

 

House Republicans Scorn Senate Immigration Bill; Say They’ll Craft Their Own

House Republicans haven’t had time to read through the massive omnibus immigration reform bill their Senate colleagues passed on Thursday.

Judging by their comments about the bill, which creates a path to amnesty for illegal aliens in the U.S. and authorizes completion of a border fence that the DHS Secretary can choose to terminate, they’re much more likely to craft their own version – or smaller, bite-sized versions – of immigration legislation than to spend time and energy reading through the Senate package, which most of them have already dismissed.

Regard for the Senate bill in the Republican-majority House is almost universally scornful, with Congressmen insinuating the House has become the “smarter” legislative chamber, offering a moral and intellectual salve for the hasty, unconsidered and self-defeating approach to immigration reform they feel their Senate peers have taken.

Here’s a sampling of House members’ spoken disdain for the Senate bill:

  • “Just like all the Senators, I haven’t read it yet.” – Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.)
  • “The Corker-Hoeven [border security] amendment is terrible.” – John Fleming (R-La.)
  • “More work on the border is good, but it doesn’t solve all the problems with that bill.” – Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)
  • “It is a pipe dream to think that that bill is going to the floor and be voted on.” – Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)
  • “[F]old it up into a paper airplane and throw it out the window.” – Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.)
  • “If you think that the House is going to cave and bring up the Senate bill, that is idiotic.” – Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)
  • “The Senate is, at this point, irrelevant.” – Ted Poe (R-Texas)

H/T: National Review

Press Coddles Obama In Africa; Army Censors NSA Scandal; N.C. Drops Federal Unemployment; Pelosi’s Obamacare 4th Of July; National Park Police: Dude, Where’s My Gun?! — Friday Morning News Roundup 6-28-2013

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

  • While flying Air Force One to South Africa, the press had a chance to ask President Barack Obama about major issues concerning Americans: the scandals, the controversial Supreme Court decisions, immigration, and many others. Instead, the press asked about Obama’s Africa legacy (or lack thereof), China’s relationship with Africa, the commitment of U.S. companies to Africa, and whether he’ll visit the ailing Nelson Mandela. Source: The Weekly Standard
  • The Army is blocking all access to The Guardian newspaper’s reports about the National Security Agency’s sweeping collection of data about Americans’ email and phone communications, an Army spokesman said Thursday. Source: U.S. News
  • With changes to its unemployment law taking effect this weekend, North Carolina not only is cutting benefits for those who file new claims, it will become the first state disqualified from a federal compensation program for the long-term jobless. Source: CBS Charlotte… 
  • According to Nancy Pelosi, Democrats won’t only celebrate American independence on July 4, but will also be celebrating “health independence” thanks to Obamacare. The House minority leader tied the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the healthcare law to the July 4 holiday. Source: National Review… 
  • The U.S. Park Police, the law enforcement agency responsible for safeguarding the National Mall and critical American landmarks, has lost track of a large supply of handguns, rifles and shotguns, according to a harshly critical report issued Thursday. Source: NBC Washington…

Tea Party A ‘Terror Threat’ Equal To Muslim Extremists, For Obama Backers

A new Rasmussen Reports survey reveals that American voters who identify with President Barack Obama now consider the Tea Party just about as sinister a terrorist threat as radical Muslim extremists.

But take away the filter of political allegiances, and the survey demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of Americans still regard Islamic terrorists with anti-American agendas as a greater threat than small-government conservatives, with 51 percent of all those surveyed saying islamofascism represents the Nation’s greatest threat, compared with 13 percent who view the Tea Party in the same fashion.

Another 13 percent view political and religious extremism — evidently of the non-Islamic sort — as most significant, with militia groups attracting the concern of another 6 percent. Two percent said the Occupy Wall Street movement threatens America the most.

The survey, which polled 1,000 “likely voters” by phone this week, showed that Americans who approve of the job Obama is doing have a severely different outlook on what constitutes a threat to American interest. Among Obama supporters, 29 percent identified Muslim extremists as the top threat, compared with a close 26 percent who evidently fear a conservative cross-section of natural-born American citizens: Tea Party conservatives. Those who responded that they “strongly approve” of the Obama Administration actually fear the Tea Party more than they fear Islamist violence.

On the other hand, 75 percent of those who disapprove of Obama named Muslim radicals as the biggest threat, compared with 1 percent who cited the Tea Party.

Interestingly, a connection appears between working for the government and fretting over the Tea Party. Among government workers, 20 percent said the Tea Party should be the Nation’s chief terrorist concern, compared with 12 percent of private sector employees who hold the same view.

Terrorism represented only one focus of the survey, though. Overall, 57 percent of respondents in a February Rasmussen poll said economic challenges present the most significant threat to America — compared with only 27 percent who identified the biggest threat to be terrorism.

License Plate Scanners Saturating U.S. Police Departments, With No Limits On Data Hoarding, Privacy

In early May, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) were hit with a lawsuit over their refusal to release information the agencies had collected through the use of license plate scanners.

Plate scanners are small devices mounted atop police patrol vehicles. They digitally “read” license plates continuously, with no need for direct input from the officer inside the car. They scan all the time; and, if so configured, they can accompany each scan with a color photograph of the vehicle, its occupant(s) and, of course, the license plate itself.

There are no Federal or State laws — or even standards and guidelines — that require police departments to handle the data they collect in any specific fashion, and there are no restrictions that limit the sharing of data between agencies across all levels of law enforcement: local, Federal and State. If law enforcement wants to compile data over a period of years, never disposing of any of it, they can.

Using only the data collected from license plate scanners, police can piece together a very accurate narrative — complete with pictures — of who you are, what you drive, who accompanies you, where you go, how you dress — even whether you have any obnoxious political or ephemeral bumper stickers.

In areas where patrol cars are equipped with scanners, individual vehicles are recurrently scanned with amazing frequency.

An incredible story by the Center for Investigative Reporting describes the experience of Michael Katz-Lacabe, a San Leandro, Calif., resident who works in the computer security consulting field. Leery of the city’s adoption of the license plate scanners in 2008, he asked the city for a record of all the times his car had been scanned and photographed:

The results shocked him.

The paperback-size device, installed on the outside of police cars, can log thousands of license plates in an eight-hour patrol shift. Katz-Lacabe said it had photographed his two cars on 112 occasions, including one image from 2009 that shows him and his daughters stepping out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway.

That photograph, Katz-Lacabe said, made him “frightened and concerned about the magnitude of police surveillance and data collection.” The single patrol car in San Leandro equipped with a plate reader had logged his car once a week on average, photographing his license plate and documenting the time and location.

License plate scans are held for as long as the agency responsible for handling the information wants to hold them. And the independent third-party tech companies they hire to deploy and catalog the data are few enough, and capable enough, to be employed by layers of government, from the State of California to the CIA to the Department of Defense. You can see the potential (likely already very fully realized) for cross-pollination these separate-but-related government agreements hold. Mega-banks hold contracts with the same companies that develop the license plate technology, using numbers and location-based data-gathering as an analytical tool.

Precipitating the Los Angeles police lawsuit were the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which last year had requested one week’s worth of license plate scanning records from the LAPD and LASD. Both agencies refused, claiming it formed a component in the body of evidence used in ongoing police investigations.

But this is not probable-cause evidence. This is full-scale surveillance of people who’ve done nothing wrong; people who aren’t suspects. The ACLU predicts there will be license plate scanners in use by 85 percent of the Nation’s law enforcement agencies, and that law enforcement is already pursuing the development of a proprietary, Google-style search engine to unify and link all motorist data, enabling police everywhere to know your motoring habits simply by tapping on a keyboard and hitting “return.”

Obama’s Batting .370 Before SCOTUS – Half The Success Rate Of His Predecessors

This year’s Supreme Court session hasn’t been kind to the Administration of President Barack Obama.

In an analysis of cases pleaded before the High Court between 1985 and 1997, Economics Professor Linda R. Cohen and Law Professor Matthew L. Spitzer found:

Studies of public litigation at the Supreme Court find that the government tends to prevail and that it is more successful than the petitioner or respondent…The pattern is striking: the government wins in over 70 percent of the cases where it is the petitioner, and it wins in just under 60 percent of the cases where it is the respondent.

The Obama Administration, however, can only dream of those kinds of numbers. The Daily Beast has pegged his batting average at .370 before SCOTUS over this year’s court session, which started last October and ended this week. Not so hot, especially when you consider how well other Presidents have fared.

Worse, though, is the disproportionate number of times the Supreme Court’s decisions against the President haven’t featured even a single dissenting opinion, as noted Wednesday in the Washington Times:

Ilya Somin, a constitutional law professor at George Mason University, said it is striking to take into account the number of times the Obama administration has been on the losing end of unanimous decisions.

“When the administration loses significant cases in unanimous decisions and cannot even hold the votes of its own appointees — Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — it is an indication that they adopted such an extreme position on the scope of federal power that even generally sympathetic judges could not even support it,” said Mr. Somin, adding that presidents from both parties have a tendency to make sweeping claims of federal power. “This is actually something that George W. Bush and Obama have in common.”

That observation corroborates one of the central features of bipartisan American politics: fundamentally, party politicians differ only over how most effectively to manipulate public opinion – and, it appears, judicial opinion – to their benefit. Obama has successfully gamed the public in consecutive Presidential elections. But he stinks at gaming his intellectual peers (or, perhaps, his superiors) on the bench who, like the President, hold J.D.s with specialization in Constitutional law.

IRS Auditor Affirms Tea Party Targeting; Obama Sells Gays Rights In Africa; Mooch’s Kampf; Rahm Sees Gay Dollar Signs For Dems; Sad, Straight Chik-fil-A Cows — Thursday Morning News Roundup 6-27-2013

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’s inspector general told Congress this week his office stands by its determination that conservative groups were uniquely singled out for special scrutiny by the tax agency, rebutting Democrats’ contention that liberal groups also were targeted. Source: Washington Times… 
  • President Barack Obama clashed with Senegalese President Macky Sall over whether the gay rights movement must accelerate internationally. Source: Associated Press… 
  • In Dakar, Senegal, speaking at the Martin Luther King Middle School, First Lady Michelle Obama likened her upbringing to the upbringing of the Senegalese children at the school. Obama told the children of her “experience” and how it was similar to theirs. Source: Weekly Standard… 
  • While raising money for Bill Clinton (who signed the Defense of Marriage Act) in 1992, current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaimed, “Gays are the next Jews of fundraising.” Source: Washington Examiner… 
  • Chick fil-A President Dan Cathy is coming under fire again from homosexual groups after speaking out against yesterday’s historic gay marriage ruling. “Sad day for our nation; founding fathers would be ashamed of our gen. to abandon wisdom of the ages re: cornerstone of strong societies,” he tweeted — then later deleted. Will another kiss-in follow? Source: Wall Street Journal… 

 

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Get Ready For Hillary: Weird Campaign Merchandise Coming Your Way

What looks like the first large-scale effort at marketing the still-unofficial campaign to put Mrs. Bill Clinton in the White House has gone live on the Internet.

The Ready For Hillary store appeared online sometime earlier this week, selling promotional T-shirts for a cute price of $20.16. An array of buttons, stickers and iPhone adornments can be had for less, along with a pricey baseball hat or “Ready-to-Go Bag” ($35 for each). If you’re a true pauper, you can at least give the website your information and come away with a free bumper sticker.

The site is the work of a so-called “super” Political Action Committee (PAC) that’s already attracted the support of some recognizable names — like retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who endorsed Clinton after mulling his own bid for the 2008 Presidential nomination. Clinton herself is still coy about her plans for 2016.

However much support the super PAC raises, Ready For Hillary is evidently taking a “do-no-harm” approach in its recruitment efforts, hoping to raise money without damaging Clinton’s reputation. The group is capping donations at $25,000 and has pledged to disclose the source of every donation that exceeds $250.

The kid-gloves approach likely owes to the protracted gossip that surrounding the buildup to Clinton’s candidacy announcement ahead of the 2008 election, which some party analysts believe stagnated her campaign in the face of President Barack Obama’s aggressive, but much briefer, flirtation with voters.

Well and good, but the weird imagery the PAC is using to promote Clinton has some people wondering how to overcome the marketing challenges presented by, as the Daily Caller observes, “an aging female candidate who has been in the public eye for more than two decades and has lots of baggage” and who, for the Democrats, will represent a generational step backward compared with the still-youthful Obama.

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Describing the T-shirt graphic is an aesthetic challenge, but let’s say it looks something like a Gerber-baby label rendering of the terrifying moment Shelley Winters stepped out of the 1960s and re-emerged from a dense, uglifying fog of old age. It’s not exactly inspirational, unless you’re part of some fetishistic subculture… which, come to think of it, is a pretty apt assessment of most Clinton enthusiasts.

By all means, feel free to put your own spin on Clinton’s ad graphics in the comments section; I’ve given it my best shot.

Obamacare Sermons From The TMZ Set

Get ready to see rappers and a desperate housewife hawking President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Already in talks with the NBA and NFL, the White House is now recruiting the TMZ set to serve as ambassadors for Obamacare.

A Clinton-era White House adviser who now works as a “celebrity political adviser” told The Hill Tuesday he has a number of famous clients who are ready to help the President advertise the virtues of his health care mandate to uninformed Americans.

“I think the White House is very wise to identify partners to help market the Affordable Care Act. Just like any good product, when people are aware of the many benefits it provides, there will be increased demand,” said Trevor Neilson.

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, said the goal of slathering Obamacare in celebrity cool is to reach people in front of their TV sets.

“We’re going to be going wherever people are,” she explained. “We’re having discussions – active discussions – right now with a variety of sports affiliates, both in terms of what will end up being paid advertising but hopefully some partnership efforts. The NFL, for instance, in the conversations I’ve had, has been very actively and enthusiastically engaged because they see health promotion as one of the things that is good for them and good for the country.”

On the celebrity side, expect to see Eva Longoria, Oprah, Jay-Z, Sarah Jessica Parker and more making a play for the hearts and minds – and wallets – of Americans in the market for a government-mandated, government-subsidized health care plan.

Rubio On The Defensive After Conservative Outcry On Immigration 180˚

Tea Party conservatives have been hammering Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) this week as the Senate hammers out its own version of the immigration bill he helped craft.

Amnesty and a path to citizenship have been points of outrage among conservatives who believe only immigrants who’ve legally entered the U.S. should have a shot at attaining to the rights and privileges of American citizenship. Rubio, after demonstrating he agreed with that view in 2010, has shifted his stance so dramatically that many conservatives lament he’s not the same candidate they voted for.

So, on Wednesday, Rubio stood before the Senate and directly addressed his critics, appealing to them to see his amity with the Senate’s Gang of Eight as the lesser of two evils. The Daily Caller summarized the pith of his remarks:

“I have received numerous emails and calls from conservatives and Tea Party activists. Their opinions and concerns really matter to me because they stood with me during my election. To hear the worry, anxiety and growing anger in the voices of so many people who helped me get elected to the Senate, who I agree with on virtually every other issue, has been a real trial for me,” he said.

But he said he told them that he would go to Washington to “fight to stop what is bad for America,” and that what we have now is, in fact, hurting America. ”I simply wasn’t going to leave it to Democrats alone to try to figure out how to fix it.”

“I got involved because I knew that if conservatives didn’t get involved in shaping this legislation, it would not have any border security reforms our nation desperately needs,” Rubio said.

Rubio asked tea party conservatives who are upset to understand that he honestly believes “it is the right thing for our country.”

And he assured them he would continue to fight alongside them for “real tax reform, lowering the debt, balancing our budget, reducing regulations, rolling back job-killing environmental policies and repealing the disaster of Obamacare,” and to defend “the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.”

If you’re interested in knowing how that played with nonplussed conservatives, head on over to the Daily Caller’s original story and browse the reader comments.

Obama Launches ‘War On Coal’ In Ill-Fated Energy Initiative

President Barack Obama delivered a much-anticipated speech at Georgetown University Tuesday, pledging to use executive orders to implement Federal regulations on power plant emissions of carbon dioxide after being stonewalled by a Democrat-controlled Congress during his first term.

Calling climate change the “threat of our time,” the President settled the controversy over the existence of human-generated global warming and ended any debate about its relative significance by admonishing:

The question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgment of science, of chemistry and physics — millions of measurements have put all that to rest. Ninety-seven per cent of scientists — including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data — have put that to rest. They have acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity has contributed to it.

As an American; as a president; as a father, I am here to say, “We need to act.” Our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind.

Ahead of Obama’s climate change speech, Harvard Environmental Center Director and White House “climate adviser” Daniel P. Schrag told The New York Times that, for the Obama Administration, “a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

“Everybody is waiting for action,” Schrag said. “The one thing the President really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

Why is Obama doing this? In his stillborn, scandal-plagued second term, there is hardly much current political capital the President can tap for even a benign policy initiative. And taking decisive action against the coal industry — in the form of penalties for power plants that generate electricity through the burning of coal — is about as benign an initiative as instituting a state religion.

“When Democrats controlled both the House and Senate, Obama could not get climate control legislation passed. That explains why he is now seeking to go around Congress to enact anti-coal regulations by fiat,” writes Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, who goes on to argue that nothing Obama could have planned will galvanize his political opponents — as well as make opponents of regular Americans affected by the higher energy prices his policies will yield — than living out an Al Gore-type executive fantasy of implementing regressive, punitive energy goals:

The reason even Democrats balked on climate change regulations in the first term (it stalled in the Senate) is because it is economically debilitating, especially in energy producing states; politically unpopular in red states and among the vast majority of all conservatives nationwide; and useless (so long as China, India, etc. don’t follow suit it does virtually nothing for the planet as a whole — even if one buys the global warming hysteria)…

…Conservatives are once again bonded together in common cause against a president bizarrely antagonistic toward domestic energy production and low energy prices. The gubernatorial campaign of Ken Cuccinelli, in a dog fight with Democrat Terry McAuliffe, let loose on the Democrats’ plans, citing the energy resources in Virginia that directly or indirectly contribute to nearly 20,000 jobs and $2.5 billion toward the state economy. Now, there’s an issue that may turn out his base and get independents riled up.

Whether Obama’s executive actions on coal regulations can be mitigated by a saner President in the future, he’s already arming Republicans with everything they need to make mincemeat of their Democratic opponents in local and State elections.

Dems Play Race Card From SCOTUS Ruling; NSA Scandal Throws Pelosi Off Game; Rubio Comes Full Circle On Amnesty; Nobody Corrupts Like The IRS — Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 6-25-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

Fallout Predictable Over SCOTUS’ Voter Rights Act Ruling

Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Shelby V. Holder case struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965. The Internet went nuts, with ignorant Twitter users firing off lamentations about the end of voting equality in America. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder gave them great fodder. Read More… 

No More Sunshine And Butterflies: NSA Fallout Broadsides Lib Lawmakers

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has had a pretty fail-safe formula for her “preaching to the choir” speaking engagements over the past few years: Praise Obama, demonize conservatives and talk about rainbows, butterflies, abortion and homosexuality. Read More… 

Gang Of Eight Conversion Has Rubio’s Star Falling Among Conservatives

A new poll from the Rasmussen Report shows Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has lost much of the good will he’d cultivated among conservatives since his election during the Tea Party’s 2010 midterm surge. Blame the Gang of Eight. Read More… 

IRS Handed Out Tax Dollars To Friends

House investigators reveal in a recent report that one businessman’s friendship with an IRS official allowed him to accrue $500 million in taxpayer-funded Federal contracts. Read More… 

Fallout Predictable Over SCOTUS’ Voter Rights Act Ruling

Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Shelby V. Holder case struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.

The Internet went nuts, with ignorant Twitter users firing off lamentations about the end of voting equality in America. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder gave them great fodder. Here’s Obama:

I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision today… Today’s decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.

Like Chicago?

Here’s Holder:

Let me be very clear: we will not hesitate to take swift enforcement action – using every legal tool that remains available to us – against any jurisdiction that seeks to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s ruling by hindering eligible citizens’ full and free exercise of the franchise…

…As the President has made clear, Congress needs to act to make sure every American has equal access to the polls.

Here’s Nancy Pelosi:

This decision weakens the cause of voting rights in our time, disregards the challenges of discrimination still facing our country, and undermines our nation’s ongoing effort to protect the promise of equality in our laws.

Not quite. The court simply ruled that Section 4 of the VRA has outlived whatever usefulness it had four decades ago in subjecting States with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to Federal oversight in the drawing of Congressional voting districts.

In effect, the court said, “The law worked. States more or less discriminate at about the same rate now when they draw their maps. Let the VRA States draw their maps the same way the rest of the Nation does — without having to beseech the Federal government for approval.”

Chief Justice John Roberts noted the culturally inculcated belief that the Deep South is a hotbed of institutional racism isn’t recognizable in an examination of the facts of the post-civil rights era.

“If Congress had started from scratch in 2006, it plainly could not have enacted the present coverage formula. It would have been irrational for Congress to distinguish between states in such a fundamental way based on 40-year-old data, when today’s statistics tell an entirely different story.”

The Court didn’t strike down the entire VRA, and racial discrimination against would-be voters remains as illegal as before. Racist liberal politicians know this, but are all too happy to trot out the race card once again in their ongoing, condescending effort to hypnotize minorities into voting blue.

Gang Of Eight Conversion Has Rubio’s Star Falling Among Conservatives

A new poll from the Rasmussen Report shows Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has lost much of the good will he’d cultivated among conservatives since his election during the Tea Party’s 2010 midterm surge.

The poll finds Rubio slipping among his base, with his approval rating among conservatives standing at 58 percent — a drop of 10 percentage points since May, and 15 points since February.

Blame the Gang of Eight. Rubio’s involvement in the push for a bipartisan agreement to effect immigration reform, and especially the inclusion of President Barack Obama’s sine qua non condition to allow amnesty and a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal aliens, has incensed the majority of Rubio’s conservative base.

He also hasn’t helped himself by flip-flopping on his election-year stance, when he famously slammed the immigration plan put forward by his present-day colleague in the Gang of Eight, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). “‘Earned path to citizenship’ is basically code for amnesty,” Rubio had said back then. “It is unfair to the people that have legally entered this country to create an alternative pathway for individuals who entered illegally and knowingly did so.”

Enjoy a walk down memory lane with this helpful graphic produced by the Federation for American Immigration Reform:

Marco Rubio_amnesty_timeline_2-15-2013

Benghazi Subpoenas; Obama’s Climate War; Kerry’s Replacement; The Elusive Snowden; Pork Bullets Send Martyrs To Hell — Monday Morning News Roundup 6-24-2013

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

  • House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who’s investigating last year’s terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, has subpoenaed four State Department officials, saying the department was stalling on efforts to interview them. Source: Washington Times…
  • President Barack Obama is launching fresh battles over climate change with plans to curb emissions using executive powers that sidestep Congress — including controversial rules to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. Source: The Hill…
  • Democratic U.S. Representative Edward Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez face off today in a special election to determine a successor to John Kerry, who left the Senate to lead the Obama Administration’s cabinet as Secretary of State. The race appears to be Markey’s to lose. Source: Reuters…
  • Russia’s foreign minister has said the surveillance whistle-blower Edward Snowden never crossed the border into the country, deepening the mystery over his suspected flight from Hong Kong. Source: The Guardian…
  • An Idaho ammunition manufacturer has developed “Jihawg,” a new line of pork-laced bullets they hope will fight against Islamic terrorists — and keep them from going to heaven. “With Jihawg Ammo, you don’t just kill an Islamist terrorist, you also send him to hell. That should give would-be martyrs something to think about before they launch an attack.” Source: CBS Seattle…

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