Released Benghazi Emails ‘Directly Contradict’ White House Narrative Of Events

According to Weekly Standard blogger Stephen F. Hayes, who’s perused all 94 pages of post-Benghazi internal email communications the White House finally released on Wednesday, the Barack Obama Administration’s official, public narrative immediately following the Benghazi, Libya, attacks has zilch in common with what Administration and intelligence officials were saying among themselves as they came up with talking points to frame the President’s immediate response.

“The documents… directly contradict claims by White House press secretary Jay Carney and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the revisions of those talking points were driven by the intelligence community and [instead] show heavy input from top Obama administration officials, particularly those at the State Department,” notes Hayes.

And guess what? There is no mention of the inflammatory Youtube video that Obama, in the immediate aftermath, continually blamed for outraging mobs of Muslims and inspiring the Benghazi attack. Well, no mention except one: in a subject line of an email dealing with revisions to the Administration’s talking points.

Later on, Obama shifted that blame to organized terrorists, saying that he’d called the attack an act of terror from the beginning.

Four people, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, died during the Sept. 11 attack.

‘Audit This’ — Philadelphia Eagles’ OL Evan Mathis Literally Pees On The IRS

What a relief! It’s finally OK to publicly ridicule the Internal Revenue Service, now that the scandal-plagued agency has made a parody of itself through its discriminatory, election-season stonewalling of President Barack Obama’s political enemies.

In that spirit, Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Evan Mathis posted an Instagram photo Thursday showing Mathis doing what a lot of Americans would like to do: taking a wizz on the IRS.

IRS PEE

Looks like it’s not just the Department of Justice that’s preoccupied with leaks.

Tingles Numbs To Obama, Conservatives Are Tough And Liberals Are Weak, Mandatory $250,000 Insurance For D.C. Gun Owners?, None For The Road, Venezuela Out Of Toilet Paper: Tuesday Morning News Roundup 5-14-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • Say it ain’t so. The Barack Obama-inspired tingle that ran up Chris Matthews’ leg five years ago trickled back down it Wednesday night, after the MSNBC host cracked up and began berating the President’s responses to recent scandals like the Internal Revenue Service and Benghazi, Libya.
  • According to new research, tough guys are more likely to be conservatives. Scientists believe that the link may reflect psychological traits that evolved in response to our early ancestral environments and continue to influence behavior today.
  • The Washington, D.C., City Council may force residents to buy at least $250,000 in liability insurance before allowing them to apply for a license to own a firearm — this, in a city that already has some of the Nation’s most restrictive gun laws (including an outright ban on handguns).
  • The National Transportation Safety Board is lobbying for U.S. States to lower the legal blood alcohol limit for driving to .05. Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving doesn’t think it is a great idea.
  • Citing “excessive demand,” Venezuela’s government is having to import an emergency supply of 50 million rolls of toilet paper. New President Nicolas Maduro blames anti-government forces and the private sector, who evidently are using TP to destabilize the country. Who would have thought that after Hugo Chavez died, the whole nation would instantly go to sh!t?

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

TAZED: Police In California Caught On Video Brutalizing Cooperative Couple In Their Home

When was the last time you heard a story about police who’d gone to the trouble of ganging up at someone’s front door simply walking away when their suspicions turned out to be unfounded?

Don’t add the story of this California couple to your short list.

Far, far better informed about the Constitutional relationship of the citizen to the state than most victims of police violence, these homeowners knew their rights, and they said so.

That makes what ensued all the more outrageous, because it’s obvious from the video that the cops’ knowledgeable quarry, who recited portions of the 4th Amendment, had the goon squad very frustrated.

On May 10, cops in Cotati, Calif., received a domestic violence call — an alleged complaint that evidently didn’t come from either of the people inside the home — and converged on the residence. There were four of them.

There was a child playing happily in the front yard. The homeowners informed police their other child was with them in the home.

The cops knocked on the door and announced they were there because they’d gotten a domestic violence call. The husband and wife both reply, without opening the door, that there hadn’t been any violence at all — simply an argument “with yelling.” That assertion would jibe with the circumstances: There was the happy child out front, who didn’t appear traumatized by whatever had recently transpired.

As the police persisted in their demand to be allowed access, the homeowners became alarmed and began recording everything, at first while speaking to police through the window, then later at much closer range. The homeowner reiterates that there hadn’t been any domestic violence, that there had simply been an argument.

 

 

On the video, what appears to be the alpha cop tells the family, still from outside the home, that they’re coming in if someone doesn’t open the door.

Another cop asks the couple why they won’t come out.

“Because we don’t live in a police state, sir — martial law has not been established in this country,” came the reply.

Agitated cops typically don’t walk away from someone’s front door once their blood is hot — whether they have a right to be there or not — without extracting a cathartic pound of flesh. What cop can be expected to abide a citizen who stands his legal ground, to perceive a citizen’s conscientious and well-informed acquittal of his own rights as anything but mockery and sass?

Not these ones.

Despite the fact that the police had no warrant and had no probable cause to enter, the police ordered the couple to go ahead and get down on the ground and put their hands in the “cuff me” position behind them, because “we’re gonna kick in the door.”

And that’s what they did. The couple hadn’t gotten on the ground and they didn’t have their hands behind their backs; nor did they offer any physical resistance — even though their home had just been illegally invaded by armed strangers hiding behind dark sunglasses and a badge. The cops used a Tazer on the wife first, then used a Tazer on the husband.

That’s when the video gets shaky, before ending abruptly.

Cotati Police Chief Michael Parish said a criminal investigation is ongoing, though he didn’t say whether his own thugs were the subjects of the investigation. He also said there would be an “administrative review” of the cops’ adherence to policy and procedure.

Former AG Says Department Of Justice Under George W. Bush Could Have Done What Holder’s Office Did To AP, But Didn’t

On MSNBC Wednesday, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who served from 2005-2007 under President George W. Bush, said the Administration weighed whether it could subpoena information from an undisclosed source without telling that source about it — just as the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice has done in the scandal it created by doing the same thing to The Associated Press.

The only difference, though, is that Gonzalez and those in the Bush Administration close to the investigation decided against it:

There was at least one occasion in which we were engaged in a very serious leak investigation and we had to make some very difficult choices about whether or not to move forward, going after the reporters in order to try to figure out where the source of the leak is.

And sometimes, the department finds itself in a situation where they have exhausted all means and they have to make a very hard determination as to whether or not they want to subpoena the reporter, if they want to subpoena the reporter’s notes. So yes, I’ve had that situation. In the instance that I have in mind, we ultimately decided not to move forward.

He didn’t elaborate further, but Gonzalez did opine that the DOJ could probably get away with issuing a far-reaching subpoena to a press source, so long as the President knew about it and promised not to interfere. “It would surprise me that the White House would not have received some type of heads up,” he said of the current scandal.

The Obama Administration has denied any prior knowledge that the DOJ, under current Attorney General Eric Holder, had issued a subpoena that gave the DOJ access to phones used by more than 100 AP reporters.

The Dems Aren’t Happy: Rangel Calls On Obama To Explain Role In IRS, AP Scandals

Senator Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) got on MSNBC Wednesday and went as far as a disgraced liberal Congressman can to castigate his party’s most influential member, telling Joe Scarborough that President Barack Obama hasn’t told the American people nearly as much as he knows about scandals involving both the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service.

““I don’t think anyone truly believes that the president has given us a sufficient answer for America, much less the press,” said Rangel. “I think this is just the beginning, and the whole idea of comparing this with Nixon — I really think is just, it doesn’t make much sense.

“But the president has to come forward and share why he did not alert the press they were going to do this [secret data mining of The Associated Press]. He has to tell the Americans, including me: What was this ‘national security’ question? You just can’t raise the flag and expect to salute it every time, without any reason — and the same thing applies to the IRS.”

Rangel is among House Ways and Means Committee members set to hear testimony this Friday on the unfolding IRS scandal, in which the agency strategically placed undue hardships on conservative political nonprofits that threatened to mobilize against Obama ahead of the 2012 election.

The Worm Has Turned, Don’t Delay Me, Bro!, IRS Vs. Son Of A Preacher Man, ‘Assume You’re Being Watched’ Says Drudge, March Of The Magical Gay Elves: Wednesday Morning News Roundup 5-15-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • POLITICO isn’t known for Barack Obama bashing. That’s what makes this analysis, released late Tuesday, all the more fascinating. The President’s own party kin are jumping ship on his Administration, as scandals pile up and the Democratic rank and file sickens of his petulant “holier-than-thou rhetoric.”
  • The President’s half-brother got the expeditious treatment when his “charity,” the Barack H. Obama Foundation, applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status back in 2011 — as conservative nonprofits sat on the sidelines, waiting for the same approval. Worse, Malik Obama’s group got retroactive tax exemption dating back to late 2008.
  • The son of Billy Graham came forward Tuesday, revealing that the nonprofit bearing his father’s name was among the conservative groups stonewalled by the IRS’ artificially Kafkaesque demands for documentation before granting the group tax-exempt status.
  • Matt Drudge, he of the venerable Drudge Report, has a warning for anybody with anything significant to say — especially about the government — following news that the U.S. Department of Justice had secretly and illegally culled two months’ worth of data from the AP’s phone records: “Assume all your communications are being monitored.”
  • Tired of all the confessional, self-segregating coming-out parties the media throws for gay celebrities who Must Be Good Because They’re Gay? So’s Bret Easton Ellis, the self-confessed, sorta-gay author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho. Writing against the grain in Out magazine, Ellis said the media-maudlin “reign of the Gay Man as Magical Elf” is much ado over “what should be considered just another neutral fact that is nobody’s business.”

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

It Goes Deeper: IRS Shared Conservatives’ Confidential Info With ProPublica Journalism Group

ProPublica, the nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative journalism, revealed Wednesday that the same Internal Revenue Service office alleged to have intentionally bogged down Tea Party nonprofits and other conservative groups with needless documentation demands during the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election also shared the still-pending, confidential tax-exemption applications of nine of those groups with — you guessed it — ProPublica.

According to a story posted to ProPublica’s website late Monday, the group had, for months, reported on the activities of several political nonprofits — with the financial information redacted — because the general topic was newsworthy during election season.

But in light of the ongoing IRS scandal involving alleged sabotage of the Obama Administration’s potential enemies, the agency also admitted it’s only fair play to disclose, now, that the IRS supplied much of the information ProPublica had used in its earlier reports:

In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved–meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)

… Before the 2012 election, ProPublica devoted months to showing how dozens of social-welfare nonprofits had misled the IRS about their political activity on their applications and tax returns. Social-welfare nonprofits are allowed to spend money to influence elections, as long as their primary purpose is improving social welfare. Unlike super PACs and regular political action committees, they do not have to identify their donors.

Applications for tax-exempt status are not allowed to be made public until after the IRS has approved a nonprofit group’s tax-exempt status. Notably, the agency reports that the IRS never offered up any liberal nonprofits’ applications for tax-exempt status. And the IRS hasn’t gotten back with ProPublica after the group requested to know who at the IRS is responsible for originally sharing the off-limits information.

ProPublica was launched with funding from the Sandler Foundation to “strengthen the progressive infrastructure” in investigative journalism. It received $125,000 from the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations, an amalgam of other international foundations that, themselves, also are predominantly funded by Soros.

Rand Sums It Up: Obama Is Drunk On Power

Whatever your party ideology is, whatever the ideals — left or right — you profess as critical to the understanding of how America’s ongoing experiment in free Constitutional Republicanism will continually emerge successful, you have to hew to what you believe.

Elected leaders whose explanations of their vision for the Nation resonated with enough voters to put them in office actually have to enact their visions, or at least do things, once in office, that don’t subvert the principles they sold to the people at the time they campaigned for their favor.

President Barack Obama had a lot of political raw material to work with in 2008, positioning himself as a transparent, open and accessible answer to the cultivated perception of the George W. Bush White House as a devilish, secretive, power-mad boys’ club — a pillaging cabal of Statists who appeared on TV news shows as guys who reveled in the expansion of power to achieve honorable aims by sinister, ignoble, illegal means.

Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Ari Fleischer, Condoleezza Rice: The names still conjure, in the memory, the indelible image of the unique power culture that emerged in the W. era.

So what if you have to give up your privacy? Did you see what just happened to those two towers, all those people? So what if you’re inconvenienced by a little roughhousing at the airport? Don’t you want to play even a passive role in securing the homeland? So what if there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction? We ended up taking out a real bad guy, didn’t we? Hey, we don’t make the weather; but don’t you want the Federal Emergency Management Agency to nail things down while the Corps of Engineers hires some guys I know to make sure your polluted, depressed industrial corridor doesn’t have to be relocated to the Atchafalaya basin? And so it goes.

But none of that surprised anyone. The Republican White House of 2000-2008 walked as it talked. If the Feds wanted to snoop on you and if they wanted you to bleed a little for the greater good, Fleischer and Scott McClellan got out in front of a Presidential Seal symbol and told you why their boss thought it was a good idea. In so many ways, they said: “This is the President’s agenda, and this is why he thinks it’s the best thing for the Nation. We know we’ve got the power; now watch us use it.”

Nothing remotely approaching even that degree of openness has emanated from the White House since 2008, when Obama said this to the leaders of Federal agencies:

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

With each snoop scandal; with each cover-up; with each wiretap amendment or backdoor cybersurveillance revelation; with each executive order to keep documents classified; with each internal memo telling department heads to make spending cuts painful on Americans; with every silence on whether Americans are fair game for drone strikes; with each coordinated attack on the 2nd Amendment or quiet assault on the firearms free market; with each inexplicable concession to the Saudi terrorist-birthing regime; with each flush of a Freedom of Information Act request down the toilet; with each unresolved, unaddressed lie about what the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was doing tracking guns in Mexico: With each of these revelations, and more, the Obama White House adds another spectacular dollop of hypocrisy to a crooked Presidential legacy unparalleled, so far as we know, since the administration of Richard Nixon.

Obama does not walk his talk. The message is diametrically opposed to the deed. And there is no way on Earth it’s inadvertent, no way to cobble together an apology of such hypocrisy as simple misplaced idealism or the seeking of noble goals by ignoble means. Hell, no one — but no one — knows what the goals are anymore. Talking points are hollow.

And it’s gotten too egregious to seem rooted in rationality. The inconsistencies between talk and action are just too perplexing. The delusional pathology presents similarly to that of an addict or a drunk.

On Monday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told FOX News:

I think of what Lincoln said. He said … if you really want to test a man, give him power.

I think, in that sense, the president is failing that test of power, because he has extraordinary power and he’s supposed to be able to be wise enough to restrain himself.

But he’s using the power of government to investigate his enemies. He’s tapping the phones of the press. And it turns out last year he signed legislation that allows him to detain an American without a trial and send them to Guantanamo Bay.

This sounds like a president somewhat drunk on power — not cautious about how he uses his power.

Can a bender this wild last four more years?

Obama Gets Washington Post’s Top ‘Honor’ For Lying On Benghazi

The Washington Post dismantled President Barack Obama’s insistence on Monday that his administration has, from the beginning, acknowledged last year’s Benghazi, Libya embassy assault as a terrorist attack.

At a Monday news conference, Obama told reporters, “The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.”

The paper put that statement through its venerable “Pinocchio Test,” a sort of tongue-in-cheek star-rating system (they use Pinocchios instead of stars) that assesses the degree of B.S. in various officials’ public promises.

The Pinocchio Test found Obama’s verbal legerdemain to be worthy of the most dubious of honors: Four lying Pinocchios out of a possible four:

During the [2012 Presidential] campaign, the president could just get away with claiming he said “act of terror,” since he did use those words — though not in the way he often claimed. It seemed like a bit of after-the-fact spin, but those were his actual words — to the surprise of Mitt Romney in the debate.

But the president’s claim that he said “act of terrorism” is taking revisionist history too far, given that he repeatedly refused to commit to that phrase when asked directly by reporters in the weeks after the attack. He appears to have gone out of his way to avoid saying it was a terrorist attack, so he has little standing to make that claim now.

Indeed, the initial unedited talking points did not call it an act of terrorism. Instead of pretending the right words were uttered, it would be far better to acknowledge that he was echoing what the intelligence community believed at the time – and that the administration’s phrasing could have been clearer and more forthright from the start.

IRS Silent In Face Of Congressional Demand For Discriminatory Documents

Last Friday, the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives demanded the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) turn over copies of all internal communication that referred to self-styled conservative groups that contained words like “conservative,” patriot” or “tea party.”

As of Tuesday, despite mounting revelations that the IRS may be guilty of more than just discriminating against conservatives during an election season, the agency hadn’t replied. CNS News reports that Wednesday is the deadline that the Ways and Means committee had established for the IRS to come clean.

The agency’s acting commissioner is set to testify before the Ways and Means Committee this Friday, at a hearing that also will hear testimony from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Jay Carney: ‘People’ In The White House ‘Were Aware’ IRS Targeted Conservatives, But No One Acted

Is there even a script anymore?

Presidential press secretary Jay Carney admitted Tuesday that there were “people” in the White House who knew conservative nonprofits were complaining that the Internal Revenue Service had been, to borrow the President’s phrase, “gumming up the works” as they attempted to achieve the same timely tax-exempt status their liberal-leaning peers enjoyed ahead of the 2012 Presidential election.

But, he said, nobody troubled themselves to do anything.

“I’m sure people were aware of, and knew, some of the stories that had been reported about the complaints, but we were not aware of any activity or of any review conducted by the inspector general until several weeks ago,” Carney said, responding to a question by Chuck Todd of MSNBC.

Todd wasn’t satisfied with an answer like that, so he pressed Carney further. That elicited this from the President’s mouthpiece:

Let’s just say that — well, first of all, for all the reasons why distance between — you know, why the IRS should not be politicized, you know — there has to be that distance.

But on the specific question that you had, I want to wait and see what the report says and wait and see what we actually know happened and what the facts are before we comment beyond what the president said yesterday on this matter, and before we make any decisions or pronouncements about what actions should be taken. I mean, you heard the president say what he believed and what he feels what is reported about specific targeting turned out to be true. But we need to see if that’s actually the case.

Tough-guy actor Claude Akins once hawked a product on TV by famously tossing aside his lines to go straight into testimonial mode, telling the director, “I don’t need this script.”

The same thing evidently happened a while back at the White House, somewhere between the 2012 campaign and the President’s crazy trip to Texas last week.

But the Obama Administration does need a script. Carney can’t take much more.

Barack Passes The Buck, It’s Gonna Blow!, Pelosi Loves IRS Scandal, Spies Like This?, Black Gold Back Again: Tuesday Morning News Roundup 5-14-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

 

  • President Barack Obama used White House press secretary Jay Carney to dissemble on Monday’s damning news that the Department of Justice had secretly monitored phone communications at The Associated Press. “We are not involved,” said Carney, who told reporters to go ask the DOJ.

 

  • A volcano near Mexico City has officials preparing to evacuate tens of thousands of people, as the 17,887-foot “Popo,” which lies 40 miles South of North America’s most populous city, has begun showing signs of life.

 

  • Instead of condemning the Internal Revenue Service for targeting conservative nonprofits during the 2010 election season, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is running straight at the controversy with arms wide open. She thinks the scandal provides an opportunity to take down more conservative groups.

 

  • Russia arrested an American named Ryan Fogle in Moscow early Tuesday on suspicion of spying for the CIA after agents allegedly encountered him with two wigs, three pairs of sunglasses, a microphone, a knife and a bunch of money.

 

  • The United States is expected to generate one-third of the world’s new oil over the next five years, slowing dependence on Mideast petroleum and proffering lower domestic energy costs. Will American economic policy over the same period deal with flush times better than in the past?

 

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

Senator On Guns: ‘Confiscate, Confiscate, Confiscate!’

It’s always nice when gun grabbers out their agenda in ways that belie their intentions.

Audio from a Senate hearing on gun control last week outed three State Senators who lingered after talks were finished, with each sharing a slice of elitist thought that has little to do with upholding Constitutional oaths, but lots to do with expanding the state’s control over individual freedoms and widening the cultural gap between citizens and the elected class.

From the May 9 meeting of the Senate Budget and Appropriation Committee, three or four women can be heard discussing a renewed strategy for gun control, following the defeat of the Manchin-Toomey Act in the Senate last month.

The audio quality is spotty, but the tone of the conversation — as well as the unambiguous nature of that portion of the talk that was clearly captured — reveals a smug and condescending take on just what the 2nd Amendment really means to the Americans it was conceived to protect.

“We needed a bill that is going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate,” the first woman, whose identity still isn’t known, appears to say.

“They want to keep the guns out of the hands of the bad guys, but they don’t have any regulations to do it,” responds State Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-N.J.).

“They don’t care about the bad guys. All they want to do is to have their little guns and do whatever they want with them,” intones State Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-N.J.).

“That’s the line they’ve developed,” finishes State Senator Linda Greenstein (D-N.J.).

It doesn’t matter who said it. Perhaps the strongest indictment of the gun-control agenda comes not from that remark, but from Cunningham’s belittling attitude toward American gun owners who, she scorns, want to “have their little guns and do whatever they want with them.”

Well, actually — yeah. They do want to have their little guns and do whatever they want with them. To deride that conviction is just another way of mocking the 2nd Amendment’s guarantee that the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.”

IRS Double Standard Tax Dragnet Also Sought Out Advocates of Constitutional And Government Reform

It wasn’t just Tea Party types whom the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) singled out for extra tax scrutiny over the past two years. The politically driven effort to stymie the goals of suspected conservatives extended to nonprofits and social-welfare groups that advocate for changes in government spending and educating the public on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

On Friday, the IRS apologized for going after more than 70 groups that had “patriot” and “Tea Party” in their names — groups that, starting ahead of the 2012 election season, had become deluged with extra paperwork demands after applying to the agency for tax-exempt status.

In all, though, there were about 300 groups that faced similar stonewalling. All of them had applications that were “flagged” by the IRS for extra documentation and investigation as they sought nonprofit tax exemption. And they all had a lot in common: They all betrayed some dissatisfaction with the U.S. government or the desire to educate the public about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which functions independently within the treasury Department to audit IRS practices, is investigating the origin of the agency’s discrimination, including how it was authorized, by whom and when it all started.

FOX News reported Monday the Inspector General’s office has a rudimentary timeline of events that political opponents of both President Barack Obama and moderate RINOs were already being harassed in early 2010. But:

[I]t shows that the list of criteria [was] drastically expanding by the time a June 2011 briefing was held. It then included groups focused on government spending, government debt, taxes, and education on ways to “make America a better place to live.” It even flagged groups whose file included criticism of “how the country is being run.”

By early 2012, the criteria were updated to include organizations involved in “limiting/expanding government,” education on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and social economic reform.

Under Obama, the IRS is looking more like a policy deployment and enforcement arm of for the executive branch than a dispassionate and aloof tax-collection agency.

For elected chief executives who aspire to dictatorship, it makes sense. That’s because, if a President wants to enact his extraConstitutional whims with an absolute minimum of resistance, there’s no other government agency that possesses such a unique combination of fear-inspiring absolutism and ubiquity. Everyone (in theory) pays taxes, and almost everyone is too afraid of criminal and financial repercussions to view the IRS as that part of government that can be reasoned with. Perfect.

Take the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) as one example.

“Obamacare relies very heavily on the IRS,” said former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich Monday. “Why would you trust the bureaucracy with your health if you can’t trust the bureaucracy with your politics? … There are bureaucrats in the IRS who are capable of ruining your life while lying about it.”

In 2014, when Obamacare is the law of the land, taxpayers will have to complete an additional IRS form that will require their personal identifying health information, including information about their health insurance provider and how long they’ve been covered.

Gosnell The Murderer, Feds Spying On the AP, Senate Majority Leader Defends IRS, Courts Rubber-Stamp Classified Info, Pot’s OK In Vermont: Afternoon News Links 5-13-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s afternoon update.

  • Kermit Gosnell, who severed the spinal cords of infants born in spite of abortion attempts at his West Philadelphia clinic, was convicted Monday of three counts of first-degree murder. Read more…
  • In what is being called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” by the news organization’s top executive, The Associated Press has discovered that the Justice Department secretly acquired two months’ of phone records on its reporters and editors. Read more…
  • Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has urged his fellow lawmakers to avoid jumping to conclusions with regard to allegations that the Internal Revenue Service singled out conservative nonprofits for excess filing requirements. Read more…
  • One Federal judge told fellow government employees Monday that courts are too lax in considering the actual merit of most Presidential claims that information should remain classified for the sake of national security. Read more…
  • The Vermont House of Representatives voted Monday on a bill, already amended by the State Senate, that would decriminalize marijuana if approved by the Governor. Read more…

Vermont House Moves To Decriminalize Marijuana

The Vermont House of Representatives voted Monday on a bill, already amended by the State Senate, that would decriminalize marijuana if approved by the Governor.

The bill would remove criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce, instead imposing a civil fine after the same fashion as a traffic ticket. Anyone under 21 caught with marijuana would be ordered to submit to a substance abuse screening and would face no jail time.

Governor Peter Shmulin, a Democrat, is expected to approve the bill later in the current Legislative session.

Federal Judge Says President Gets His Way Too Easily With Courts When Hiding ‘Classified’ Documents

One Federal judge told fellow government employees Monday that courts are too lax in considering the actual merit of most Presidential claims that information should remain classified for the sake of national security.

According to a POLITICO report, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said most Federal courts are “far too deferential” to the executive branch when determining whether information is legitimately classified.

“It bothers me that judges, in general, are far too deferential to Exemption 1 claims,” said Lamberth. Exemption 1 claims can allow information, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), to be withheld under executive order.

Lamberth, who was addressing a crowd of employees gathered at a conference for employees who handle FOIA requests, explained he’d observed instances of egregious abuse of the FOIA policy by U.S. intelligence agencies and that courts should be more diligent in considering the merits of future classification claims made by the executive branch.

Entitlement-Inflated University Costs May Soon Succumb To Market Forces

Ever since the first round of ex-soldiers went to college for free on the post-World War II G.I. Bill, the U.S. higher-education network of public and private universities has had its own miniature Federal Reserve-style money printer, in the form of Federal student aid entitlements.

Pell grants, subsidized student loans and an array of other demographically restricted entitlements, targeted at students, have kept free market forces out of the pricing equation for both students and universities, a 50 year-old phenomenon that has incrementally — and artificially — driven up the cost of tuition at schools whose financial aid offices serve as pass-through centers for Federal student aid.

For the universities, the “extra” money brought in by inflated tuition — paid in full, by and large, through a combination of students, Federal aid and, to a lesser extent, university endowments — has been nice. They’ve been able to keep the focus on education for those students and faculty who’ve been serious about the reasons for pursuing a college or postgraduate degree, while simultaneously blurring the meaning of what college is really all about by enticing future students with lavish amenities.

In a column last week, Washington Examiner Senior Analyst Michael Barone made a compelling argument that this financial fantasy world — one that’s coddled the universities and deceived students into believing they’ve gotten real, dollar-for-dollar value from their Federal subsidies — has already gone bust:

Government helped to produce an ever-increasing demand for higher education. So higher education administrators saw no need to compete on price. Higher tuitions just gave your school more prestige.

Now the higher education bubble has burst. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that that the average “tuition discount rate” offered incoming freshmen last fall by private colleges and universities has reached an all-time high of 45 percent.

At the same time, their “sticker price” tuitions have increased by the smallest amount in the last dozen years. Tuitions for in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities also increased by the smallest amount during that period.

Applicants are negotiating bigger discounts than they used to. Market competition has kicked in.

What has happened is that in a recessionary and sluggish economy potential customers have been figuring out that a college diploma may not be a good investment — particularly if it entails six-figure college loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Back in 2011, the cumulative total of outstanding student loan debt in the United States surpassed the $1 trillion milestone — more than Americans collectively owe on credit cards. What have students been getting for the money they owe, as well as the money the Feds are paying their schools on students’ behalf? More administrators. “The scariest number I’ve seen is that in the Cal State system between 1970 and 2008… the number of faculty only went up 3 percent, but the number of administrators went up 237 percent,” said Sean Flynn, a Scripps Economics professor. “The entire educational system has had massive amounts of money thrown at it and most of it has gone to things that have not improved the actual educational outcomes.”

Market forces are starting to kick in, as college costs finally soar too high to make attendance feasible for parents and students. Yet even with Federal aid “discounts,” the blot doesn’t mean tuition will be dropping. Rather, it’s likely to settle out and grow at a rate that resembles the rest of the Nation’s free market.

Hillsdale College, a private school in Michigan, bucked the Federal Aid carrot-and-stick game way back in 1985, ending all participation in Federal financial aid programs after a decade-long tussle with the Feds. Hillsdale did it in order to remain truly independent from Federal controls handed down in the form of contingency-based subsidies:

In 1975, the federal government said that Hillsdale had to sign a form stating that we did not discriminate on the basis of sex. Hillsdale College had never discriminated on any basis, and had never accepted federal taxpayer subsidies of any sort, so the College felt no obligation to comply, fearing that doing so would open the door to additional federal mandates and control. Our trustees pledged two things: first, that the College would continue its long-standing policy of non-discrimination, and second, that it would not accept any encroachments on its independence. The case went to court…To avoid the hassles of government control, Hillsdale College announced its decision to end participation in all federal financial aid programs in 1985.

Hillsdale College’s 2013 asking price of $21,390 is a lot of money for students and parents to shell out over four years (or more). But the college still offers financial aid from privately sourced endowments, defraying the expense for students who qualify under terms the college — and not the government — has established. It’s also notable that Hillsdale’s sticker price is substantially less than the Federal-aid inflated $29,056 that private U.S. colleges, on average, are charging in 2013.

Department Of Defense Censors 3-D Print Gun Schematic: ‘The United States Government Claims Control’

One of the key proponents of a technology allowing a plastic gun to be assembled through a three-dimensional printing process has been forced to remove all firearms-related schematics from a personal defense website that had made the designs available for free.

The U.S. Department of Defense sent a letter last Thursday to Defense Distributed, the free speech and 2nd Amendment advocacy group behind the website, demanding all the material be taken down. Defense Distributed had created a companion website known as DEFCAD, a self-described “makeshift” site intended to host firearms-related files previously self-censored by Makerbot, which manufactures 3-D printers and provides info on how to use them.

You can still visit the site and browse all the stuff that, before last week, was available for 3D enthusiasts to download. The “Liberator” schematic was downloaded 100,000 times in only two days. But all the “download” links, for all the schematics, have been changed. It’s now a “look, but don’t touch” affair.

The government censor came only three days after the group announced it had successfully test-fired its first prototype of a 3-D printed weapon it had dubbed the “Liberator,” a device whose only non-plastic component is its metal firing pin:

 

 

The DEFCAD site now has an alert at the top of all its pages:

DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.

When you scroll down to the area of each page where downloads had previously been available, this is what you see:

DEFCAD_DENY

While 3D printers are still more expensive than most guns, the theoretical endgame of the new capability — which essentially democratizes the process of manufacturing firearms and makes it possible to create guns at home, away from the existing infrastructure of dealers, licensing and background checks — is already drawing the wrath of liberals in Congress.

Residents Taking Over Public Services In Financially Crippled Detroit

Residents on lawn mowers have formed a “Mower Gang” in Detroit, determined to maintain public aesthetics in a city where there’s not enough public money to pay enough workers to keep overgrown parks, roadsides and medians usable and clean.

TheBlaze reported Friday that many people who’ve chosen to persevere in their near-bankrupt city, whether wealthy or not, are contributing their money, skills and time to keep up many of the public services that the city simply can’t handle.

“When the system fails us, you have to become the system,” one volunteer explained.

In addition to providing landscape maintenance, Detroit volunteers are also equipping the city with new ambulances and squad cars for cops, as well as planting trees in parks and other public spaces.

Detroit came under State control in March, when Governor Rick Snyder appointed a financial manager to navigate the withering city out of an immediate $327 million budget deficit, as well as figure out a way to tackle more than $14 billion in debt.