‘Judge Shopping’ AG Holder Spurned By Two Judges Before Third Granted Secret Subpoena Warrant

When U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder decided to unleash the hounds on FOX News reporter James Rosen, he had Ronald Machen, U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., go looking for a court order to obtain a warrant that would allow the Department of Justice to subpoena Rosen’s communications without the reporter or his employer ever knowing about it.

Machen was shot down by Judge John M. Facciola, who noted “[T]he subscriber therefore will never know, by being provided a copy of the warrant, for example, that the government secured a warrant and searched the contents of her email account.”

All the DOJ had to do to get the warrant approved was to let the subject — in this case, Rosen — know that a warrant to subpoena his communications records was being served. But then, that wouldn’t have been much of a secret, and the DOJ would have lost its ability to indefinitely monitor Rosen’s records without detection.

So the DOJ went judge shopping, according to an investigation by Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker. Even though two judges had ruled a secret subpoena wasn’t legal, Machen appealed and got Royce C. Lamberth, chief judge in Federal District Court for Washington, D.C., to reverse those decisions.

Incidentally, Lamberth apologized last week for not making records of the Court’s communication with the DOJ public for a full 18 months — an apology that, of course, came only after the Rosen scandal had broken.

At any rate, how can the DOJ, which answers to President Barack Obama, claim it knew of nothing out of the ordinary in the Rosen case? It had to go to extraordinary measures to get the legal permission it needed to monitor a reporter without his knowledge and without a window of time to limit the reach of the secret investigation.

House Judiciary Committee Investigates Whether AG Holder Lied Under Oath

The Hill is reporting that the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is investigating testimony Attorney General Eric gave May 15 concerning his Department’s role in the Associated Press secret surveillance scandal.

Specifically, the committee is looking into the veracity of Holder’s claim, under oath, that he’s “never been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy” for the Department of Justice to target any member of the press who refuses to disclose sources.

But the report notes:

However, NBC News reported last week that Holder personally approved a search warrant that labeled Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen a co-conspirator in a national security leaks case.

The panel is investigating whether NBC’s report contradicts Holder’s claim that he had not looked into or been involved with a possible prosecution of the press in a leaks case.

Interestingly, news of the DOJ’s targeting of Rosen (and even his parents) hadn’t broken at the time Holder gave his AP testimony, highlighting another seemingly recurring characteristic of the Administration of President Barack Obama: the time to be sorry about lying to cover your tracks should come only once you get caught doing it.

IRS Attack Ads, Russia Arms Syria For Peace, Texas Slashes Business Taxes, D.C. Scamming Motorists, Drones In Deutschland, Fear The Chair: Tuesday Morning News Roundup 5-28-2013

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.

  • A group of House Republicans is prepared to launch an ad campaign against four incumbent Democrats this week tying the lawmakers to the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups applying for nonprofit status.
  • Russia is going to deliver anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian government in order to deter “hotheads” from getting involved in the country’s civil war.
  • Look out, liberals. Texas, already the Nation’s strongest State economy, just made it easier for businesses to profit in the Lone Star State. The Legislature passed more than $1 billion in tax cuts before recessing for the summer.
  • “Three golden miles” in Washington, D.C., have reaped the city an average of $30,500 per day in speeding and red light camera fines — $28 million since the start of 2011. The “offenders” are mostly unsuspecting motorists from Maryland and Virginia. New York Avenue is the hot spot, so beware.
  • A German railway is set to roll out miniature drones at night in order to catch people defacing trains with graffiti.
  • Doctors at the University of California at Los Angeles and Ohio State are launching a big PR campaign to declare war on… sitting down. “Sitting is the new smoking,” says Anup Kanodia of Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.

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

–Staff writer Sam Rolley contributed to this report.

Patient Consent At Risk As Genome Sequencing Breakthroughs Divide Medical Community

A forthcoming report in Science magazine argues that patient consent and confidentiality are under fire, after the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) recently adjusted its formal recommendations to doctors that, for the most part, now leave the patient out of the decision-making process over how much data researchers can mine from their unique genetic codes.

According to a summary prepared in advance of the report:

Informed consent is the backbone of patient care. Genetic testing has long required patient consent and patients have had a “right not to know” the results. However, as 21st century medicine now begins to use the tools of genome sequencing, an enormous debate has erupted over whether patients’ rights will continue in an era of medical genomics.

Recent recommendations from the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) suggest no. On March 22, the ACMG released recommendations stating that when clinical sequencing is undertaken for any medical reason, laboratories must examine 57 other specific genes to look for incidental findings. These findings must then be reported to the clinician and the patient. In an April 25 “clarification,” ACMG said that failure to report these findings would be considered “unethical.” The patient has no opportunity to opt-out of the testing of the 57 genes, except to decline all sequencing. The recommendations also apply to children.

The study, a joint effort by Susan M. Wolf of the University of Minnesota, George J. Annas of Boston University and Sherman Elias of Northwestern University, argues that the all-or-nothing sequencing of a patient’s genetic code would be beneficial, if only the patient could have a say over the “all-or-nothing” part.

“The ACMG’s ‘minimum list [of 57 genes]’ includes mutations in genes that patients have long been able to refuse testing for, including cancer risk mutations (such as BRCA1) and cardiovascular risk mutations,” the authors argue. But, they add, there are myriad practical, medical reasons — as well as principled ones — why the control over the reach of genetic sequencing — and the information it yields — should rest solely in patients’ hands.

The patient may already be battling another disease, such as advanced cancer, or be late in life and see more burden than benefit in added genetic information. The patient may also fear that ‘extra’ results in their medical record will invite risk of discrimination.

Ominously, the “minimum list” of 57 genes currently on the table for data mining is expected to grow significantly, according to the ACMG. That, the report warns, places even greater urgency upon lawmakers to craft new legislation, or enforce existing law, if applicable, that strongly favors patients’ rights.

Fitness Is Key To Preparedness

Preparedness is not just about what you can buy or grow, or what you can hoard. It’s not just about how many guns and rounds of ammo you’ve saved up, how finely tailored your bug-out bag is or how many weeks’ worth of food you’ve stored.

It’s about surviving. And if the day comes when you and the people around you can’t rely on technology and the sophisticated infrastructure that supplies the food and comfort to which we’ve become accustomed, you’ll have to rely on yourself — and that means work.

Hard work — a lot harder than most of us are used to — demands that you be in adequate physical shape.

Fitness is something many Americans tend to view as a consumer luxury. People buy gym memberships out of vanity, to socialize or to burn off steam. Often, those gym memberships are abandoned after the thrill of novelty wears off.

But whether you go to a gym, exercise at home or do something active outdoors, it’s important that you don’t neglect your own fitness — because it’s one of the most important parts of any survival strategy.

In fact, it’s arguable that sound physical fitness, anchored by a mind ready to adapt and to lead, is more important than any amount of anticipatory preparedness. What good is four weeks’ worth of freeze-dried food if you aren’t up the challenge of fighting off those who’d seek to take it from you?

You are at the center of whatever contingency plan you’ll enact if things in your world — locally, regionally or nationally — go bad. And that means that your body and mind will be more crucial than any amount of critical consumer goods to your, and your family’s, well-being or survival in the event of a catastrophe that forces a change in the way you live.

Most of us aren’t very physically fit. We live among the world’s most affluent Nations, and consumer culture — despite its benefits as a driver of civilized economic prosperity — has left most Americans bereft of any true understanding of the nasty, brutish and short quality of human life and the default competitiveness of human beings pitted against each other in the hope of acquiring the very finite resources necessary for survival.

That sounds a bit philosophical; and, in your otium, you can intellectually engage the human condition at your leisure. But if something happens that forces you and your family into a new mode of living — one that demands only the cultureless and the necessary, that has no place for leisure and its ephemera — you’re going to be living in a reality that never feels abstract. You’re going to have to be up to the task of coping.

If you’re serious about preparing for the worst, you have to maintain a body that affords you, perhaps literally, a fighting chance. If you’re currently free from chronic maladies, it’s especially crucial that you take seriously your role in whatever prepper plan you’re devising, because you are likely to be one of the linchpins of others’ fortunes. Children, the elderly, the ill, the weak and the physically compromised are not capable of what you’re capable of.

This isn’t a story about how to get in shape. People are physically different, and some bodies respond differently to different stimuli. There are a lot of ways to get in shape and stay that way; and there’s no shortage of good information, and opinions, on the topic. It’s important to note that you don’t have to spend any money or buy a ton of fancy equipment or join a health club to be physically fit — so long as you have the mental discipline to devise and follow an exercise routine. Your body, along with a sound understanding of how to condition it through applying different forms of physical stress, are all that’s required.

So if you’re out of shape and unable to physically defend yourself; walk a long distance and help others travel with you; row a boat; or take point on the cycle of gardening, constructing, all-hours watching, leading and even thinking (which itself exacts a physical, calorie-burning price) on your own — and others’ — behalf, it’s time to regard your body and your mind as the most essential and sacred components of any preparedness plan you’ll ever set in motion. There’s little point in building fences or learning tactical firearms defense if you’re unable to cover ground on your own two feet. Conflict inevitably will come to that, if, as they say, the SHTF.

Besides, being physically fit enriches your life in the here and now — regardless of whether you live to see the Apocalypse.

How do you and your family stay in shape? Let us know what works for you and what doesn’t. And be sure to share any stories about the simple, free and maybe even fun things you do that keep you and your loved ones physically fit.

Palin On Obama’s IRS Attack Dog: ‘Will We Stand For This?’

Sarah Palin has written a few guest columns for Breitbart, but Wednesday’s piece on what the Internal Revenue Service-Tea Party scandal means for every American is by far the best.

Palin talks about how, since the beginning of the Tea Party movement in 2006, Constitutional conservatives have successfully been marginalized in the press, despite the fact that the Administration of President Barack Obama evidently has considered the true conservative movement a far greater threat to his own agenda, and his political ambition, than he ever did mainstream establishment Republicans.

That’s evidenced, a companion story by Craig Shirley points out, by the fact that the IRS targeted only Tea Party-type nonprofits over at least the past two years, passing over run-of-the mill Republican groups — taking for granted  that establishment Republicans were never an impediment to liberalism under Obama:

The unspoken 600-pound gorilla in the room is that the IRS did not go after Republican Party groups. There has been some noise made in that direction, but it is just that — noise. The real IRS vendetta was aimed at the Tea Party movement and not at the myriad GOP inside-the-beltway groups like American Crossroads or Americans for Job Security or any of the other interlocking GOP seen as front groups for corporate America.

…The Republican Establishment is pea green with envy but also embarrassment “that the IRS did not think them worthy of harassing, or even worse, on the same side as the IRS. In other words, the IRS saw the GOP as too feckless to worry about. Either explanation is not very appealing for the national Republicans.”

Now, says Palin, more Americans are seeing the sinister side of enabling the IRS to enforce Obama’s social policies, exactly as the Tea Party called it, back when everyone thought small-government conservatives who bothered to organize were just a bunch of stone-throwing kooks:

Please remember that some of us warned America about the dangers of having the IRS play such a big role with the administration of Obamacare. We were laughed at and mocked relentlessly back then. It sure doesn’t seem funny now, does it?

This IRS scandal is especially terrible because Americans live in fear of the IRS like no other entity because this monstrous bureaucracy has the power to take your hard-earned money. Your wages are the sum of your labors; hence, the IRS has the power to steal the fruits of your labors. Average Americans live in fear of making an error on their tax returns that could cost them massive amounts of money, plus their reputation and good name.  If a small business makes a mistake, the IRS can shut them down and send them to jail.

The IRS has always been the face of intimidating and controlling big government. Now it’s the face of corrupt big government that actively attacks the people it is supposed to serve. This isn’t the change America was hoping for, Mr. President, but it certainly is transformative.

The collective disgust — and it’s coming, now, from true conservatives, liberals and everyone in between — over the ease with which a Presidential Administration can now wield aloof, dispassionate Federal agencies against the people should catalyze a majority against the Orwellian reality of big government power.

These Obama administration scandals are a sad and stark reminder that only limited government can ensure liberty. At our core, we Americans just want to be left alone to live freely, peacefully, and productively.

… It’s time for all Americans to stand together and join in the growing outraged chorus that looks at our out-of-control government and says, “Enough is enough!”

Read the full commentary at Breitbart and pass it along.

‘Budget Cuts’ Leave Attacked Oregon Woman Out Of Luck When She Calls 911

As an ex-boyfriend attempted to break into her home, allegedly intent on assaulting her both physically and sexually, an unidentified Oregon woman did what everybody’s instructed to do: She called 911.

A dispatcher answered. The woman described the situation, saying, “If he gets in the house, I’m done.”

That’s when the dispatcher advised her to… figure it all out herself.

“Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there. You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”

What had actually happened, in the magic phone-land between the 911 call and someone picking up on the other end, was that the woman’s call had been rerouted from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office to the Oregon State Police. That’s because there wasn’t anyone available at the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office to answer, after there had been layoffs that limited local police service only from Monday through Friday, during business hours. This assault occurred over the weekend, in the wee, pre-dawn Sunday morning hours in August 2012.

As the unidentified woman waited for the eventual intrusion, which ultimately culminated in Michael Bellah allegedly throttling the victim by the throat and sexually assaulting her, the dispatcher offered compassionate reassurance:

“It’s unfortunate you guys don’t have any law enforcement out there.”

Bellah was arrested by State police — after the incident, of course — on charges of kidnapping, sex abuse and assault. He pleaded guilty. His victim told the dispatcher, mid-assault, that Bellah had allegedly put her in the hospital once before, in a similar attack.

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office let go of 23 deputies, along with its entire Major Crimes Unit, after it lost a major Federal timber subsidy, according to Oregon Public Radio. The U.S. government owns about 70 percent of the land in the county, and property owners have voted down ad valorem tax increases to fund public services. The sheriff’s department now operates with six deputies, who don’t patrol on weekends. It’s not known whether the victim had access to a firearm.

Sheriff Gil Gilbertson has advised residents who fear domestic assaults, which don’t routinely conform to business hours, to consider moving to an area where law enforcement can protect them around the clock.

The sheriff didn’t say anything about citizens arming themselves. Since protecting and serving in rural Oregon counties has become a carrot-and-stick game with Federal subsidies as the victory prize, it’s evidently more important than ever that citizens at least know they’re on their own when it comes to keeping themselves, and their loved ones, safe.

Oregon’s gun laws, for now, are closer to the spirit of the 2nd Amendment than those in many other States, although recent proposed legislation would place new restrictions on residents’ powers to own so-called assault weapons and limit magazine size to 10 rounds.

Cruz To RINO McCain: I Don’t Trust You, And I Don’t Trust Democrats

On April 26, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told a group of Tea Party supporters in his home State that his Republican colleagues in the Senate had acted like “a bunch of squishes” in cutting gun-control deals with aggressive Democrats ahead of the infamously ill-fated Manchin-Toomey gun control act.

Cruz, along with other libertarian-minded Congressmen like Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.), have been cultivating a reputation for standing on principle, even if it means alienating the party establishment.

But on Wednesday, Cruz took that fight away from friendly audiences and went straight to the Senate floor, sparring with Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) over what’s wrong with conservatives who strike liberally diluted devils’ bargains.

The topic was the Senate’s attempt to pass a budget — its first in four years. Led by McCain, moderate Republicans have been urging holdouts to go along with their Democratic colleagues and set up a budget conference committee to iron out differences between the Senate version of the budget and the one already passed by the House of Representatives.

Cruz and Paul, along with conservatives Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are fine with that approach — if the conference committee can guarantee the budget won’t come back with a provision that raises the Federal debt ceiling, which Democrats, of course, favor.

“If we go to conference without the debt ceiling being taken off the plate, it is a 100 percent certainty that the debt ceiling will be raised,” said Cruz.

McCain knows this. Why else would he, essentially, ask Cruz and his cohort of real conservatives to just take the whole thing on faith? Here’s McCain’s attempt at shaming Cruz into gullibility from the Senate floor:

Let’s put some confidence in — if not in the conferees appointed here, but in the conferees who will be appointed on the other side of the Capitol, who are of our party, who are fiscal conservatives just like we are. Instead of blocking, what I assure my colleagues — all three of them here, that is a minority of the minority of Republicans in the United States Senate — that [the majority] wants to move forward with a budget, which we spent so many hours and so much effort in achieving.

McCain followed that up Wednesday by pretending to be baffled at the idea that principle can trump compromise. “Basically, here, what we’re saying on this side of the aisle is, we don’t trust our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol, who are in the majority,” he said.

Damn straight, said Cruz, whose Jiu-Jitsu retort from the Senate floor used McCain’s words to drive home his own point about the corruption and moral inertia plaguing the leadership of both parties:

The senior senator from Arizona urged this body to trust the Republicans. Let me be clear: I don’t trust the Republicans. And I don’t trust the Democrats. And I think a whole lot of Americans, likewise, don’t trust the Republicans and the Democrats because it is leadership in both parties that has gotten us into this mess.

Unfortunately, one of the reasons we got into this mess is because a lot of Republicans were complicit in this spending spree. And that’s why so many Americans are disgusted with both sides of this house. Because we need leaders on both sides…to roll up our sleeves, to compromise, to work together and fix the problem; fix the enormous fiscal and economic problems. Stop bankrupting our country.

And every Republican who stands against holding the line here is really saying, ‘Let’s give the Democrats a blank check to borrow any money they want with no reforms, no leadership to fix the problem.’”

McCain stopped short of calling Cruz a “wacko bird,” but he did describe the conservatives’ skepticism as “bizarre,” and he preened over his conservative pedigree — all while Senate Democrats reveled in the spectacle of Republicans feuding.

“I’ll match my record against anybody’s on debt and the deficit, and that includes the Senator from Florida [Rubio],” said McCain.

Obama Heckles Heckler, President’s Speech Transcribed, McCain And His Dem Friends, FBI Agents In Boston Arrests Die, Obamacare’s Skimpy Coverage: Afternoon News Links 5-23-2013

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

Obama To Gitmo Speech Heckler: ‘Part Of Free Speech Is…You Listening’

President Barack Obama had a hard time getting through parts of his foreign policy speech at the National Defense University Thursday, thanks to Medea Benjamin, co-founder of left-leaning, female anti-militarism group Code Pink. Read more…

Obama Speech Reveals Possible Foreign Policy Redirect—Transcript Provided

President Barack Obama delivered his first major speech on counterterrorism of his second term Thursday, claiming that he will restrict the use of unmanned drones and making other statements that—if true—represent a dramatic shift in the Administration’s foreign policy approach. Read the full transcript…

McCain Sides With Dems On Budget Debate

Senator John McCain criticized fellow Republicans this week, saying that GOP objections to moving forward with a budget — even one that increases the debt ceiling — could encumber future Republican initiatives. Read more…

Two FBI Agents In Boston Bomber Arrest Die In Fall From Helicopter Training Exercise

The FBI released a statement this week confirming the deaths of two FBI agents who specialized in elite counterterror operations and were involved in the arrest of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Read more…

To Avoid Obamacare Costs, Employers Preparing ‘Skinny’ Insurance Plans

In order to avoid having to pay penalties under Obamacare’s mandatory-coverage rule, many employers are readying a new, lower tier of “skinny” healthcare policies that will cover preventive care, but won’t pay for hospital stays. Read more…

To Avoid Obamacare Costs, Employers Preparing ‘Skinny’ Insurance Plans

In order to avoid having to pay penalties under Obamacare’s mandatory-coverage rule, many employers are readying a new, lower tier of “skinny” healthcare policies that will cover preventive care, but won’t pay for hospital stays.

Under Obamacare, employers who don’t provide employees minimum coverage can face a $2,000 per-worker penalty. But the new cut-rate policies, which won’t cover surgery, prenatal care or diagnostic work such as X-rays, qualify employers as participants in mandatory minimum coverage.

The new tier of low-benefit plans will still subject employers to government penalties, but most are expected to be less than $100 per worker.

Two FBI Agents In Boston Bomber Arrest Die In Fall From Helicopter Training Exercise

The FBI released a statement this week confirming the deaths of two FBI agents who specialized in elite counterterror operations and were involved in the arrest of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The FBI announced the two men — Special Agent Christopher Lorek and Special Agent Stephen Shaw — were killed Monday when they were participating in an offshore training exercise in which officers disembark from a hovering helicopter and land on a seaborne vessel by means of a guide rope.

The only other details the FBI provided about the two agents’ deaths are that the helicopter had undisclosed difficulties and that the men fell a “significant distance.”

A law enforcement officer said weather may have played a role in the accident, which occurred about 12 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.

Obama To Gitmo Speech Heckler: ‘Part Of Free Speech Is…You Listening’

President Barack Obama had a hard time getting through parts of his foreign policy speech at the National Defense University Thursday, thanks to Medea Benjamin, co-founder of left-leaning, female anti-militarism group Code Pink.

Benjamin repeatedly interrupted the President’s remarks, pleading with him to expedite the closing of Guantanamo Bay, where Afghan and Iraqi prisoners have been indefinitely detained for 11 years.

“You are the commander in chief. You can close Guantanamo today,” Benjamin shouted early in the speech.

The President acknowledged Benjamin’s interjections at one point, but after additional cut-ins, he finally told her:

Now, ma’am, let me, let me, let me finish. Let me, let me finish, ma’am. Now, this is part of free speech, is, you being able to speak, but also – you listening. And me being able to speak. [Applause breaks out.] Eh? Thank you.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAYtDWTCm0Y&w=560&h=315]

 

After further interruptions, security dragged Benjamin out of the room. But she got in one last remark for the President, admonishing Obama to “abide by the rule of law – you’re a Constitutional lawyer.”

Top-Down Targeting, Not IRS Rogues, Responsible For Scandal

An Investigative reporter in Cincinnati, the epicenter (so far as we know) of the Internal Revenue Service discrimination conspiracy against conservatives, has all but demolished President Barack Obama’s claim that the two-year hit job was the work of self-willed, autonomously acting “rogue” employees far down the chain of command.

Common sense would naturally tell anyone the same thing; and the known facts in this case do nothing but corroborate the suspicions of both liberals and conservatives convinced that the President was involved in the sandal, which obviously benefitted his re-election campaign, from the beginning.

Cincinnati’s FOX 19 investigative reporter Ben Swann checked into the administrative hierarchy within the IRS to determine where the supposedly “rogue,” low-level IRS grunts, whom the Obama Administration blames for targeting more than 300 Tea Party nonprofit groups, fit in.

Of the six IRS plebes (five IRS “agents” and one “supervisor”) Swann identified by name, none answers to the same manager. Instead, each answers to a separate manager, who in turn is managed by a “territory manager.”

But the process of applying for tax exemption — the very process the IRS used to green-light pro-Obama nonprofits while making sure the wheels fell off their conservative competitors — ultimately ends with one person. That person — Cindy Thomas, Program Manager of the Tax Exempt Division — is the one manager all the low-level agents, as well as their managers and those managers’ managers, have in common.

Swann explains the process:

When an application for tax exempt status comes into the IRS, agents have 270 days to work through that application. If the application is not processed within those 270 days, it automatically triggers flags in the system. When that happens, individual agents are required to input a status update on that individual case once a month, every month until the case is resolved.

Keep in mind, at least 300 groups were targeted out of Cincinnati alone. Those applications spent anywhere from 18 months to nearly three years in the system, and some still don’t have their nonprofit status. Three hundred groups multiplied by at least 18 months for each group means thousands of red flags would have been generated in the system.

Swann goes on to point to the events that have befallen the rest of the IRS chain of command since the scandal went public, noting that former Acting Commissioner Steven Miller and the Commissioner of Tax Exempt Entities, Joseph Grant, have both retired. Above them is Lois Lerner, head of Exempt Organizations, who took the stand Wednesday to tell Congress she’s pleading the Fifth on any questions about the fiasco. And the Director of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations division, Holly Paz, has been subpoenaed and will soon have the same opportunity.

None of the administrators in the preceding paragraph is based in Cincinnati; they are all based in Washington, D.C.

Writing in The Washington Post Wednesday, Ed Rogers related the story of how far up the chain of command the scandal went before being shielded from Obama’s delicate eyes:

My personal favorite of all the new revelations from the Obama IRS scandal is that White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler told White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about the impending IRS inspector general report, but of course the White House chief of staff did not tell the president.

I sat in a White House chief of staff’s office every day for more than two years. The only reason the legal counsel would tell the chief of staff about an impending report or disclosure would be so the chief of staff could tell the president… There are many valid reasons why the chief of staff would tell the president, but I can’t think of a reason why he and the legal counsel would both agree that this news nugget would go no further. It’s very odd.

It’s not just odd; it’s criminal. And everyone knows who the chief perpetrator is.

Obamacare Was Planted As Talking Point For Liberal Graduation Speakers

Earlier this week, we told you about the disproportionate ratio of liberals to conservatives on the annual college graduation commencement speech circuit. Many found a way to sneak in an admonishment for pet liberal issues of one kind or another.

But long before the liberal ambassadors dispersed to stand behind podiums at Harvard (Oprah Winfrey), Princeton (Ben Bernanke), Kenyon College (Michael Bloomberg), Duke (Melinda Gates), Penn (Joe Biden) and, of course, Ohio State (Barack Obama), the President called senior Administration officials together to game plan one especially dear liberal talking point in time for the spring graduation season: Obamacare.

Hand it to Bloomberg Businessweek for walking the talk: The news outlet reported the brainstorming session, including the bit about the campus propagandizing, as the launching point for a Obamacare sales-job strategy the President deployed shortly after winning election to a second term.

Knowing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was already unpopular, off schedule and poorly understood in its proposed implementation, Obama told his second-term cronies it was critical that the healthcare law succeed, because it would long be remembered as “one of his major legacies.”

To counter the criticism, the White House has told all Cabinet members and senior officials to use commencement speeches to drive home for graduating college students and their parents the benefits they gain from a provision of the law that allows young adults to stay on their family’s insurance plans until they turn 26.

Despite having already spent $8 million on selling Obamacare through the machinations of PR firm Weber Shandwick, the President indeed got plenty of dutiful help from the mortarboard orators — and he led from the front, pitching the supposed benefits of the regressive, market-corrupting plan at both Ohio State and, last week, at traditionally black Morehouse College.

More Liberals Slam Obama For Draconian Journalist Surveillance

More liberal talking heads are sassing their greatest benefactor: President Barack Obama. Here’s NBC’s Chuck Todd railing against Barack on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ show Wednesday – or scroll down to read Todd accuse the Obama Administration of treating journalism as a crime:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU_XmGEGQ3c]

TODD: So they want to criminalize journalism. And that’s what it’s coming down, I mean, if you end up essentially criminalizing journalism or when it comes to reporting on the federal government, particularly on national security, and the only place they can; they think they technically can do that is on the issues of national security. What it’s going to do is, the impact that we’ve heard, we heard the AP counsel say this over the weekend. It is going to make whistleblowers, and people that might leak, regular sources. You know, I’ve had different conversations with people over the last week who are sitting there not quite comfortable having certain conversations on the phone. I mean, it just completely…and maybe that’s the intent. I can’t think of any other intent of why they’re going about this in such a broad, harassing sort of way.

Big Sis Deploys DHS ‘Officers’ To Watch Tea Party At Nationwide Protests Tuesday

As Tea Party supporters gathered outside IRS offices Tuesday in planned demonstrations against the agency’s discriminatory thwarting of their attempts at organizing nonprofit groups, armed officers with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stood watching.

They’re easy to spot at this St. Louis rally:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrcZs-ABN-c&w=560&h=315]

 

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano sent out the goon squad to “monitor” Tea Party protests in Missouri, Florida, Indiana and Illinois.

As expected, all the protests went off peacefully nationwide, which is more than can be said for some other high-profile demonstrations that were spared any DHS presence.

Congress Isn’t Done Questioning IRS Exemptions Official Because ‘She Waived’ Right To Invoke 5th Amendment

The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sat down Lois Lerner, who’s in charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Exempt Organizations Unit, for questioning early Wednesday, despite forewarning from her attorney that she would invoke the 5th Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination by not answering any questions.

Later in the afternoon, committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he planned to haul her back before the same committee for more questioning. Why? Because Lerner gave a statement to the committee before pleading the 5th — a move Issa believes waived her right to refuse testimony.

“When I asked her her questions from the very beginning, I did so so she could assert her rights prior to any statement,” Issa told POLITICO. “She chose not to do so — so she waived.”

What did Lerner say in her opening remarks?

I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee.

Issa said Lerner shouldn’t have attempted to squeeze a declaration of innocence into her testimony if she intended to remain silent on any questions the committee had.

“The precedents are clear that this is not something you can turn on and turn off,” he said. “She made testimony after she was sworn in, asserted her innocence in a number of areas, even answered questions asserting that a document was true … So she gave partial testimony and then tried to revoke that.”

The IRS scandal became public after Lerner admitted on May 10 that the agency had discriminated against conservative nonprofits that had applied for tax-exempt status.

M.O. Fleeing Barack’s Mess, Bernanke Leaves The Faucet On, Brains Like Fewer Calories, FEMA Leans On ‘Waffle House Index’ To Triage Disaster, DOJ Went After Conservative Reporter’s Parents: Tuesday Morning News Roundup 5-7-2013

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.

  • First lady Michelle Obama is evidently tiring of the scandal swirling around her husband — so she appears to be planning to get out of the White House, and stay out, all summer long on an extended vacation at Martha’s Vineyard.

 

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to tell Congress today that the U.S. economy is too weak to handle a bump in interest rates or a slowdown in the money-printing, dollar-debasing scheme known as quantitative easing.

 

  • A study reveals that reducing calories prevents the loss of brain cells and cognitive decline through aging, and can help avoid degenerative mental conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

 

  • Craig Fugate, the corpulent director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, apparently likes the Waffle House well enough to take policy cues from the 24-hour restaurant chain. In triaging the scale of the disaster left in the wake of a tornado, he’s come up with something called the “Waffle House Index.”

 

  • The U.S. Justice Department is already stammering excuses for the illegal manner in which it gained access to the communications of conservative-leaning news reporters. But targeting their parents? That’s what allegedly happened to FOX News reporter James Rosen, whose parents’ phone records appear to be part of a broad DOJ investigative dragnet.

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

Tea Party Up, IRS Down In Public Opinion

That the Internal Revenue Service has sunk even lower in the eyes of the general public over the past couple of weeks is no surprise to anyone who follows even mainstream news outlets.

No one likes the IRS, even for its designated function of dispassionately confiscating wealth and offering it up to the government for redistribution. But the idea that the agency is using its power to help the President’s friends and hurt his enemies gives a sharp new bitterness to what’s always been, for most people, a dull hatred.

A joint poll released Tuesday by ABC News and The Washington Post estimates that a majority of Americans blame the IRS hit job not on incompetence or administrative mistakes, but on deliberate targeting ordered by someone or coordinated by a group. Forty-five percent further believe that the Administration of President Barack Obama knows more about who’s to blame for all the discrimination than it’s telling.

What’s more surprising is the corresponding bump in the proportion of Americans who, according to a separate poll released Monday, approve of the Tea Party and its small-government message in the wake of the IRS scandal that gummed up the works (as Obama loves to say) for the conservative groups as they sought tax-exempt status.

Don’t expect the Tea Party to win any vapid mainstream popularity contests anytime soon. But the poll, conducted by CNN, saw public approval for the Tea Party climb from 28 percent only two months ago to 37 percent now — a number almost identical to the conservative movement’s all-time high in 2010.

The number of those who approve is still smaller than the proportion of Americans — 45 percent — who said they still have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party. But with the majority of Americans still getting their news from left-leaning and omissive mainstream media, it’s remarkable that the number’s not much higher — especially considering that both these polls were done by left-leaning and omissive mainstream media outlets.

But if lawsuits, such as the one filed this week against the IRS by a California Tea Party group, bring to light new evidence about who authorized the scandal and who was involved in covering everything up, the Tea Party movement could be welcoming — and educating — many more defectors from the partisan, business-as-usual political PR wars, as more and more regular Americans wake from their complicit indifference to the hidden crimes of the Obama Administration’s first four years.

Florida Governor Yanks Funding For Police ‘Snitch’ Program To Report ‘Suspicious’ Neighbors

Early this month, the sheriff of Palm Beach County, Fla., announced a new, Orwellian “violence prevention” program designed to pit neighbors against each other by having people anonymously call the cops on anyone who doesn’t like the government or takes a picture of a bridge.

Why? Because people who voice their disapproval of the way their leaders are representing them might be terrorists, the kind of people who’d shoot up a school or set off a bomb at a public event or important landmark.

The local program was to receive $1 million in State funds, apportioned by the Legislature, to train deputies, mental health professionals and case workers to respond whenever someone called the 24-hour citizen hotline, so that they could then visit alleged terrorists, at their homes, unannounced, with the goal of diverting their latent violent behavior before they commit an atrocious act.

A bonus: The sheriff’s office would have dirt on people reported to the hotline, stacking the deck against supposed “terrorists” by exposing them to unwarranted scrutiny and making otherwise-innocuous citizens look like festering threats, if ever they should come before the law for any reason.

At the time, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said this:

We want people to call us if the guy down the street says he hates the government, hates the mayor and he’s gonna shoot him. What does it hurt to have somebody knock on a door and ask, “Hey, is everything OK?”

Neighbors helping neighbors, eh? East Germans lent each other a similar helping hand during the Cold War, when the Stasi state security ministry recruited regular people to rat out their neighbors and coworkers for harboring anti-government sentiment.

But folks in Palm Beach eager to turn on their fellow man may have to go back to calling 911 or the police dispatch line, thanks to Republican Governor Rick Scott’s recent veto of the $1 million in State money originally earmarked to subsidize the $3.2 million tattling scheme.

Of course there’s a twist: Scott didn’t veto the Legislature’s earmark on principle; in fact, he called the prevention program “a very well-intended project.” His reason, rather, was that Florida’s taxpayers as a whole were being asked to support a program that “benefits” only the residents of Palm Beach County.

With nearly a third of his funding gone, Bradshaw has said his department is reconsidering deploying the program at all. That’s welcome news to residents who were outraged about the plan — not only on Constitutional grounds, but for its outright stupidity.

“Kill this thing before it grows like a cancer,” an unnamed Tea Party supporter told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The idea may not be dead nationwide, though. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is enabling local enforcement agencies to do, by proxy, what Congress, to the disappointment of George W. Bush, forbade it from doing upon its creation in 2001: acting as an info dump for Stasi-style tipsters. Through nearly $500 million in local “urban area security” grants last year, DHS has primed local agencies, including the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, to mine citizens’ paranoia for information about who’s got it in for their government.

Rand Demands Independent IRS Investigation

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told a New Hampshire audience Monday that Congress shouldn’t let those responsible for perpetrating the IRS Tea Party-targeting scandal get away with a wrist-slapping from the Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Rather, said Paul, the politically-motivated stymieing of conservative nonprofits under the guise of IRS enforcement demands an investigation fully independent of any ties to the Administration of President Barack Obama.

“Any person who would use the power or abuse the power of government to go after their political opponents, I don’t care if you are a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, to take that brute force, that bullying force of government and to use it against your opponents, there is something distinctly and profoundly un-American about that,” he said. “I don’t see any way the president can gain back trust, and for goodness sake, somebody’s got to get fired or go to prison.”