J-Schools Hold Up Mirror To Current Domestic Drone Policy, Teach Use Of Tiny Devices To Gather News

If the Feds can use drones to watch what’s going on, so can everybody else.

That’s essentially the thinking that lies behind a recent surge in new coursework at a handful of journalism schools, where future reporters are learning how to use observation drones to get close to events in a way an individual often can’t.

Under the present iteration of the FAA Reauthorization Act, it’s illegal for commercial entities (well, at least those without a defense contract) to fly drones until 2015. But public universities such as the University of Nebraska and the University of Missouri don’t fall under that restriction. These and other universities engage drone technology across several of their academic departments — mostly those dealing in applied sciences, but journalism is starting to get in on the action.

At the University of Missouri’s prestigious journalism school, students and faculty describe potential news-gathering uses for drone technology in pretty benign terms. One of the Missouri professors keeps his comments on how the media can use drone tech pretty far on this side of the invisible line that, doubtless, the current President and the Department of Justice are carefully waiting for someone to test on 1st Amendment grounds.

“We have a class here of journalism students who are learning to fly J-bots, for journalism robots, or drones,” Professor William Allen told ABC News. “So they learn to fly them, and also do what reporters do: brainstorm ideas, go out and do reporting, do drone based photography and video. We’re trying to see if this is going to be useful for journalism.”

He knows it will be useful for journalism, if lawmakers don’t snatch away the ability for media (or any inquisitive citizen) to begin employing drones in similar watchful fashion as law enforcement already is doing.

The question, though, is whether lawmakers will let it happen. Can Congress treat domestic drone policy with the fair play required to preserve Americans’ rights to keep pace with what it allows the executive branch to get away with?

Remarkably, Congressional talk (in these post-Rand-Paul-filibuster days) over where America’s domestic drone policy is heading has tended toward bipartisan concern over how the coming proliferation of drones threatens to infringe citizens’ Constitutional liberties. The Senate Judiciary Committee discussed domestic drones’ future Wednesday, with Republican and Democratic Senators (including Dianne Feinstein) alike voicing their skepticism that drones and individual liberty can easily coexist.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed resignedly accommodating of all forms of Orwellian surveillance when he asked a local radio audience on Friday: “It’s scary, but what’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building? I mean, intellectually, I’d have trouble making the distinction.”

Access and mobility for starters, moron: That’s, intellectually, the distinction. Drones can follow you. Some of them can do far, far more than watch you.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to coax an updated list of entities presently authorized to maintain and use drones. An interactive map describing each location can be accessed here; it is current through October of last year. Under present laws, it’s of course filled with public entities of various kinds.

Here’s hoping it either disappears entirely (not likely) or becomes a bit more balanced, once Federal Aviation Administration guidelines have been revised.

Survey Shows Doctors Pessimistic About Obamacare

A peer survey of practicing doctors reveals a growing apprehension among the medical profession of the coming implementation of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

According to the survey, conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, more than 60 percent of doctors said they, or peers they know, plan to retire within the next one to three years.

Nearly as many said they believed they would begin cutting their own hours as they move toward “team-based” models of providing healthcare services.

Four out of 10 surveyed said their net income decreased last fiscal year, with 40 percent of those saying Obamacare is the reason. Nearly half of all surveyed said they expect their income to go down again this year as more of the Act’s measures come online.

Just more than half reported they feel that Obamacare will also harm the doctor-patient relationship, due to the opening of admitting privileges to more patients who qualify for treatment under the Act.

Rangel Claims ‘Millions Of Kids Dying’ From Assault Weapons

Representative Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) toed the company line in admirable fashion in an interview on MSNBC this week, spicing up his gun control rhetoric with a helping of hyperbole so big it might get him banned for excess in his home State’s largest city.

Asked his thoughts on Democratic Senators’ failure at preserving a proposed ban on assault weapons, Rangel offered this:

We’re talking about millions of kids dying – being shot down by assault weapons, were talking about handguns easier in the inner cities, to get these guns in the inner cities, than to get computers. This is not just a political issue, it’s a moral issue and so when we condemn the NRA we should not ignore the fact that a lot of people that have taken moral positions have been solid on this big one.

Don’t bother searching MSNBC’s site for a pullout quote on this one. It took other news outlets to point out Rangel’s exaggeration.

By the way, here’s some info on what’s being used to kill people in domestic murders, and in what quantity. And here’s a pretty well-done analysis of some of those numbers.

Even if you combine all types of murder methods (strangling, slashing, shooting, beating, poison, getting pushed off cliffs and all the rest), the number of weapons involved in all U.S. murders over the past is a couple of orders of magnitude beneath Rangel’s “millions” — try a high of 14,916 in 2007 (a figure that’s reliably gone down every year since).

T-S-A! T-S-A!, Student Suspended For Refusing To Step On Jesus, Big Sis Mum Before Congress On Billion-Bullet Stash, Israeli Leader Calls Obama’s Speech ‘Filth,’ Prez Tweets Bloody Beatle’s Glasses Pic To Woo Support For Gun Grab: Friday Morning News Roundup 3-22-2013

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 61-year-old French national donned an Air France outfit and made it all the way to a comfortable seat in the cockpit before airline personnel — not the Transportation Security Administration — checked his credentials and gave him the boot. “He had an Air France shirt. He had an Air France bag. He had some identification that looked like he was a crew member from Air France,” a local cop said afterward.
  • A Mormon student taking a course in Intercultural Communications at Florida Atlantic University was suspended from class after refusing to participate in an “exercise” in which the professor asked everyone to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, fold it up and stomp on it. Universities and free thought, eh?
  • A couple of Congressmen say Janet Napolitano and other Department of Homeland Security officials “refuse to answer” why DHS has horded enough gun ammo to wage a 20-year war. “[C]ongress has a responsibility to ask Secretary Napolitano as to exactly why these purchases have occurred,” said one.
  • Members of the Knesset, Israel’s lawmaking body, are reflecting on President Barack Obama’s visit to the Mideast with musings like “I thought Obama had a greater understanding of the diplomatic process between us and the Palestinians.” One said the President’s speech had “a lot of filth in the middle.”
  • Obama’s Twitter account retweeted a picture from Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, showing some gore smeared across the dead Beatle’s glasses, taken the day he was murdered. The photo is accompanied by a reminder that more than 1 million people have been killed by guns since Lennon’s death in 1980.

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

President Wants New Fund To Prop Up Green Energy Projects ‘Too Risky’ For Marketplace

An undeterred President Barack Obama, heavily criticized for his Administration’s support of spectacularly unsuccessful green energy start-ups, told an Illinois audience last week the government should expand its role in helping fund private green projects that wouldn’t survive in a free market.

Obama expanded on a topic he’d mentioned in his State of the Union address: the creation of an Energy Security Trust, funded from revenues the Federal government collects on oil and gas leases on Federally owned lands.

Its purpose? To destroy the oil-and-gas economy and replace it with other sources of energy, nearly all of which are still in development.

“So we’re making progress, but the only way to really break this cycle of spiking gas prices, the only way to break that cycle for good is to shift our cars entirely — our cars and trucks — off oil,” he said.

Crediting “a coalition that includes retired generals and admirals and leading CEOs” with the idea, Obama proposed the fund as an alternative way of subsidizing green projects — one that perhaps might anger the public less than the series of tax-funded venture capital green energy debacles during his Administration.

But why dwell on the past? Obama maintains that green energy is an idea whose time has come, if only it can develop a production and supply infrastructure to rival that of oil and gas. And since the marketplace often rejects green projects for one reason or another (or several), it’s the job of government to shoulder the economic risk.

[A]nd, by the way, the private sector on its own will not invest in this research because it’s too expensive. It’s too risky. They can’t afford it in terms of their bottom lines.

So we’ve got to support it. And we’ll all benefit from it, and our kids will benefit from it, and our grandkids will benefit from it. That’s who we are. That’s been the American story.

Wait, what? The executive branch forcing citizens to support venture capital (without giving us so much as a prospectus) is the American story?

Late last year, The Heritage Foundation compiled a “Green Graveyard,” a list of 19 companies that have declared — or were in the process of declaring — bankruptcy since receiving a combined $2.6 billion in government loans and “taxpayer-funded handouts” as part of Obama’s stimulus package. The list, it cautioned, will likely continue to grow.

Background Check Stats Reveal Gun Sales Higher Than Ever

An analysis of FBI-maintained data on the volume of background checks conducted when stores sell  firearms reveals that Americans are buying more guns than at any time since the agency began keeping track of the numbers.

Of particular interest is the dramatic spike in sales since late last year.

Through 2012, the number of background checks run on retail gun customers already was on pace to be higher than in previous years. But in the weeks following the Newtown, Conn., mass murder (as well as the liberal-backed crescendo in anti-gun policy), people bought a lot of guns.

The FBI began keeping track of background check numbers after implementing the point-of-sale National Instant Criminal Background Check System in 1998. In the 14 years since, nine of the 10 days of greatest background check volume occurred on, or in the time following, Dec. 14, the date of the Newtown killings.

In addition, the 10 heaviest-volume weeks have all happened since Newtown:

The highest week of all time was the one immediately following the tragedy; the week of the tragedy itself ranks fifth, even though the massacre occurred on Friday…The Sandy Hook massacre lit a fuse — and even at the site of the tragedy itself sales have spiked. Gun shops in Newtown are seeing sales at a rate at least double normal.

The analysis cautions that the numbers can only reveal so much information. For example, many gun buyers may be purchasing more than one weapon after passing their background checks. Also, there’s no way to be sure that all purchases requiring a background check, under Federal law, are ever verified.

And, because non-retail firearms transactions don’t require Federal background checks, there isn’t any way — to the relief of privacy fans everywhere — to measure the frequency with which privately exchanged guns are bought and sold. The liberal rhetoric over restricting private gun sales frequently tosses around the claim that 40 percent of guns bought and sold don’t undergo any kind of check, but that’s been debunked.

Congress Tells USPS It Must Keep Saturday Delivery

The mail will continue to run on Saturday, if President Barack Obama signs into law a continuing resolution Congress approved Thursday.

The U.S. Postal Service, a cost-recovery operation, announced in February it planned to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail this summer, a move intended to save $2 billion a year. USPS lost about $16 billion in 2012. The new schedule would still have allowed for package deliveries on Saturdays.

But Congress, in its passage of a new spending bill Thursday, included with no changes existing language that has mandated that the USPS deliver mail six days per week.

Postal officials maintain that the six-day requirement technically should allow the service to exercise more control over what category of mail it continues to deliver on Saturdays.

Indiana Sheriff’s Video Debunks Obama’s ‘Weapons Of War’ Myth

Ken Campbell, sheriff of Boone County, Ind., began hosting a series of informational videos last month repudiating gun grabbers’ claims about assault weapons.

His latest eight-minute piece debunks the gun grabbers’ fallacious claim that “weapons of war” don’t belong in civilian hands.

Opening with a Feb. 4 quote from President Barack Obama (that “weapons of war have no place on our streets”), the sheriff’s video dismantles the notion that only assault-style weapons qualify as “weapons of war.”

“Virtually all firearms were originally designed for military use,” notes the video:

Campbell compares the tactical, mean-looking AR-15 with the wood-bodied Ruger Mini-14, noting that, save the cosmetic differences, they’re essentially the same gun:

Let’s make a comparison between an AR-15 and a Mini-14. Let’s talk about what the similarities are. First and foremost, both are rifles. Secondly, they both take a detachable magazine. And, third, they fire the same caliber cartridge.

But under legislation pending now in Congress, one of these two rifles is apt to be a banned assault weapon.

(Hint: He’s talking about the AR-15.)

Campbell uses live-fire demonstrations of each weapon (using 20-round magazines) to illustrate that the AR-15’s pistol grip, threaded barrel and other features don’t do much to make its performance stand out above that of the Mini-14. In fact, the AR-15 lagged behind the Mini-14 in its rate of fire, squeezing off all 20 rounds in 14.79 seconds — versus 12.03 seconds for the Mini.

That kind of parity between tough-looking assault weapons and their outdoorsy-looking counterparts points up the absurdity underlying the President’s statement.

“I’ll leave it to you,” said the sheriff. “Does it pass the common sense test to ban one rifle over the other due to their cosmetic differences?”

Campbell goes on to test the efficacy of the shotgun — Vice President Joe Biden’s go-to weapon for when you absolutely, positively must blindly shoot a hole through your front door to stop a bad guy — at handling different self-defense scenarios.

The sheriff’s conclusion? Yeah, a shotgun’s great at helping you protect yourself — so long as your attacker doesn’t bring friends.

Campbell and other sheriffs opposed to knee-jerk Federal gun control measures are, more often than not, willing to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to citizens’ 2nd Amendment powers. The Boone County sheriff’s office doesn’t seem too interested in hoarding weapons and know-how from the public. Rather, Campbell maintains a calendar of firearm training courses for civilians on topics like edged weapons, defensive pistol use and how to use a handgun like a protective agent.

Spurned By SCOTUS, Feds Still Pushing For Warrantless GPS Car Stalking

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court smacked down an argument by the Administration of President Barack Obama claiming police weren’t “searching” criminal suspects when they secretly planted GPS tracking devices on their vehicles and monitored their comings and goings.

The court didn’t opine on whether that kind of secret GPS surveillance can be done only after police have obtained a search warrant or whether it could proceed simply from cops’ developing of probable cause.

But by telling the Department of Justice (DOJ) that law enforcement agencies must regard GPS stalking as an equivalent to other types of traditional police searches, it did ensure that future convictions based on secret GPS surveillance would have a heck of a time surviving legal challenges until laws concerning the technology had set clear boundaries for what the cops can and can’t do with GPS — and at what stage of an investigation they can do it.

With that legal mystery yet to be solved, parties are taking sides in arguments this week before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. There’s the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is appealing a portion of the SCOTUS ruling on behalf of the criminal suspects in the original case. Then there’s the Obama Administration and Attorney General Eric Holder. Can you guess which side they’re on?

The DOJ is staking out as much territory for warrantless law enforcement officer power as it can.

The Obama Administration is now arguing that using GPS data to watch the comings and goings of anyone police deem suspicious, 24 hours a day, for days on end, doesn’t infringe the 4th Amendment’s assurance that people have a right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

The collateral assurance, that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized,” also shouldn’t apply to GPS searches, the DOJ argues.

What’s the basis?

U.S. attorneys are invoking the “automobile exception” to 4th Amendment limitations on warrantless searches and seizures. A precedent rule that’s stood since the rum-running Prohibition era, the automobile exception essentially has allowed cops, provoked by evidence thought to be present in the car at the time they develop probable cause, to go ahead and conduct a search, without a warrant, before a suspect might flee their jurisdiction with contraband in tow.

The ACLU says that’s B.S.; that Obama’s legal goons pretty much know they’re comparing apples with oranges; that secretly watching someone’s every coming and going is exactly the opposite of pulling someone over because he’s believed, either in that moment or through the issuance of a search warrant, to be transporting something illegal.

To apply the automobile exception to GPS searches, as the government urges, would be to radically expand the doctrine. The exception permits stops of moving vehicles upon probable cause and searches of a car for contraband and evidence of crime, not tracking of its driver and passengers. Put otherwise: The automobile exception is about preventing contraband and evidence of crime from absconding; GPS searches are about tracking individual persons as they go about their business.

Thus, the primary justification for the automobile exception, the exigency created when physical evidence of crime might disappear, is wholly absent in the GPS context…

…The overwhelming majority of GPS searches involve no such risk of destruction or removal of evidence. Rather, they involve surreptitious attachment in the dead of night and extended remote monitoring, the very antithesis of exigency. To be sure, in cases of actual exigency, for example, where police have both probable cause to believe that a vehicle contains contraband or evidence of criminal activity and good reason to believe that the vehicle might disappear before a warrant can be obtained, no warrant will be required for the initial attachment.

In the 2011 case (the one that smacked down the Obama Administration’s argument that GPS tracking isn’t a “search” as defined by the 4th Amendment), the justices observed that government GPS stalking could “suddenly produce what sounds like 1984” and that, “If you [the U.S.] win this case then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States.”

A U.S. attorney in that case told the court there was no reason why the Feds couldn’t secretly put GPS trackers on each Supreme Court justice’s car — or on an overcoat — and watch every public move they made.

Massachusetts School Mimics Welfare State By Leveling Playing Field For Kids

Schools aiming to prepare kids for life in entitlement-drunk America might want to start emulating Ipswich Middle School in Massachusetts.

According to FOX News, the school’s principal canceled this year’s Honors Night, an annual even recognizing the achievements of its hardworking and high-performing students.

The reason? It could lead to hurt feelings. The last thing kids who haven’t excelled want to see is kids who did excel being honored for it.

“The Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients’ families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade point average,” explained principal David Fabrizio.

That sort of regressive compassion should serve the lowest common denominator among the schools’ student body well into adulthood, as long as America’s expanding safety net keeps snatching away what’s left of the incentive for its citizens to attain individual success.

Massachusetts School Mimics Welfare State By Leveling Playing Field For Kids

Schools aiming to prepare kids for life in entitlement-drunk America might want to start emulating Ipswich Middle School in Massachusetts.

According to FOX News,the school’s principal canceled this year’s Honors Night, an annual even recognizing the achievements of its hardworking and high-performing students.

The reason? It could lead to hurt feelings. The last thing kids who haven’t excelled want to see is kids who did excel being honored for it.

“The Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients’ families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade point average,” explained principal David Fabrizio.

That sort of regressive compassion should serve the lowest common denominator among the schools’ student body well into adulthood, as long as America’s expanding safety net keeps snatching away what’s left of the incentive for its citizens to attain individual success.

UPDATE: Colorado Governor Signs Gun Control Measures Into Law

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has gone forward with his pledge to sign three pieces of controversial gun control legislation.

The Denver Post reported Hickenlooper signed the bills, approved by the State Legislature, Wednesday morning.

The move has outraged Republican legislators in Colorado, not only for its infringement on 2nd Amendment powers, but also because it may represent the start of an aggressive liberal agenda push on a number of hot-button issues yet to be tackled throughout the remainder of the State’s 2013 legislative session.

Major gun accessory manufacturer Magpul, which has operated in Colorado since 1999, is already getting out of Dodge, saying it won’t do businesses in a State that allows only its cops — not its residents — to own the products it manufactures.

Major Colorado Gun Company Making Good On Threat To Leave If Governor Approves Gun Grab

Colorado-based Magpul, a manufacturer of gun accessories like grips, mounts, sights and magazines, is evidently making good on its pledge to move its operations out of the State if a ban on magazine capacity and other 2nd Amendment infractions is approved by the Legislature and Governor.

The new laws — three separate bills limiting magazine size to 15 rounds, requiring all gun buyers to undergo universal background checks and then requiring them to pay for the privilege — all moved through the State Legislature last week; Governor John Hickenlooper has publicly said he’ll sign each of them into law today.

From the beginning of Colorado’s romance with gun control, Magpul has said it can’t continue to operate in a State that denies its residents the power to own and use its products, even as law enforcement officers remain exempt from the ban.

Likewise, the 14-year-old company has said it’s wrong for Colorado to welcome the tax revenues its estimated $85 million in annual revenues brings in, as well as hundreds of jobs, while hypocritically forcing it to do business outside the State in order to remain viable.

So on Monday, Magpul told its Facebook followers that it had seen enough:

We have said all along that based on the legal problems and uncertainties in the bill, as well as general principle, we will have no choice but to leave if the Governor signs this into law. We will start our transition out of the state almost immediately, and we will prioritize moving magazine manufacturing operations first. We expect the first PMAGs to be made outside CO within 30 days of the signing, with the rest to follow in phases. We will likely become a multi-state operation as a result of this move, and not all locations have been selected. We have made some initial contacts and evaluated a list of new potential locations for additional manufacturing and the new company headquarters, and we will begin talks with various state representatives in earnest if the Governor indeed signs this legislation. Although we are agile for a company of our size, it is still a significant footprint, and we will perform this move in a manner that is best for the company and our employees.

It is disappointing to us that money and a social agenda from outside the state have apparently penetrated the American West to control our legislature and Governor, but we feel confident that Colorado residents can still take the state back through recalls, ballot initiatives, and the 2014 election to undo these wrongs against responsible Citizens.

The company has had no shortage of out-of-State relocation invites from elected officials who respect the Constitutional powers of individual gun ownership. There’s Pennsylvania, Wyoming, South Carolina, Texas — and the list goes on.

The company’s stance has earned it a huge boost from individual gun owners as well. And at least two sheriffs in Colorado have said they won’t enforce the laws.

Pot And Guns: Will Obama Administration Deal Equally With States That Defy Him?

Will The Administration of President Barack Obama turn the same blind eye toward State laws defiant of possible Federal gun-grabbing laws as it has thus far with States that have legalized recreational marijuana?

If the Fix Gun Checks Act (each of which moved through the Senate Judiciary Committee last week) actually wins Congressional approval and become law, most types of private gun purchases would be illegal under Federal law, as is recreational pot.

States that have approved recreational weed smoking and those whose legislatures have, or soon will, approve laws preserving Constitutional gun ownership would then stand, equally, in defiance of the law of the land.

But, as CNS News points out in an interesting weekend piece, it’s difficult to imagine that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) would stay on the sidelines when it comes to guns — even though it has done the same when it comes to marijuana.

A particularly interesting test case could happen in the State of Washington, whose residents approved private marijuana use late last year. Obama himself famously said his Administration has “bigger fish to fry” than to go after Washington and other States where pot has been or soon may be made legal.

But Washington’s Legislature is currently considering a bill that would make any future Federal ban on semiautomatic weapons or magazines, as well as forced gun registration, “unenforceable” throughout the State.

It’s unlikely that Senate Democrats’ gun grabbing proposals will pass through Congress in their present form.

But if they do, the DOJ would be inviting massive ridicule, as well as legal action from every side, if it swoops in to make sure States adhere to the Federal gun ban while letting them slide on permitting their citizens’ enjoyment of good old Mary Jane, which is still a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

ICE Admits Many Jailed Illegals Were DUI Repeat Offenders

The recent flap over the release of more than 2,000 illegal immigrants from U.S. custody only worsened this week after the head of the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) revealed that many of those let go may have been DUI convicts.

In a hearing Tuesday, ICE director John Morton heard an earful from Representative Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who pointedly asked Morton whether ICE had released “recidivist drunk drivers.”

Morton said “yes,” there had been “many individuals who had [repeat] DUI offenses” set free following budget cuts forced upon his agency by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

See the unperturbed Morton take it on the chin in this video:

Cyprus Bank Larceny Is Contagious, Pay-Per (Paper) View In Cali, Maher Leans Right On Taxing The Rich, Thousands Wait To Buy Ammo (In Cali), TSA Makes Marine Amputee Take His Legs Off: Tuesday Morning News Roundup 3-19-2013

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.

  • If California’s State court administration gets it way, you’ll have to pay twice (once in taxes, then again via a $10 fee) for something that’s already yours: public records.


  • Wealthy liberal mouthpiece Bill Maher, an alleged comedian, ain’t so keen on California’s regressive tax structure. He told fellow Lefties “you could lose me” over his 50 percent-plus tax bracket.


  • Cyprus’ bailout scheme to rip off bank depositors apparently has fans: other socialist governments. How much faith do we still have in the FDIC?


  • More from Cali: Thousands of gun owners queued up for hours in Sacramento to buy ammo at a weekend gun show because, they said, the State’s gun laws don’t inspire confidence that bullets for regular folks will always be around.


  • It’s like fish in a barrel, these constant TSA nightmare stories. This time, TSA inspectors are under fire for humiliating a U.S. Marine amputee who lost his legs in an IED explosion. They. Made. Him. Take. His. Legs. Off.

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


Sequester ‘Cuts’ Furlough USDA Meat Inspectors, Protect Food Stamps

Senate Democrats in charge of the budget process won Round One over their GOP counterparts last week in the battle over how to implement sequestration’s spending “cuts,” offering up the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an illustration of just how severely a tiny reduction in Federal spending is supposed to harm real Americans.

Over the vocal objection of Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee, Democrats folded into their budget plan an ongoing agreement with Mexico to fund a USDA-led campaign to raise awareness among legal, non-citizen immigrants over how to access food stamps once they’ve entered  the United States.

But while the George W. Bush-era food stamp promotion made it into the Senate budget proposal, threatened cutbacks on USDA meat inspectors’ man-hours stayed on the chopping block.

While that kind of prioritizing may seem absurd, the real absurdity of the whole sequestration flap is the extent to which the spending cuts — wherever they’re made — are anything but dire.

Reuters reported last week the USDA should have no trouble ensuring that all beef and poultry in the U.S. will continue to undergo inspection, with furloughs likely beginning in July and consisting of 11 non-consecutive furlough days on which all U.S. meat inspectors stay home.

Earlier reports that sequestration threatened to hobble poultry and livestock processors and cause meat shortages across the country appear either to have been exaggerated or simply inaccurate.

While that kind of downtime is no longer expected to make much of a ruckus in the marketplace, Republican critics believe the furloughs still look far too punitive toward more than 9,000 food safety employees to reflect what’s supposed to be a mere 5 percent cut in spending across Federal agencies.

House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) criticized U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week for using furloughs as a first, instead of last, cost-saving resort.

“I do not agree with the position that the secretary has staked out on this issue while traveling around the country with his sky-is-falling mantra,” he said.

Aderholt also pointed out the Food Safety and Inspection Service had seen its budget grow by about $75 million a year for the past five years, whereas the projected “cut” in spending this year would amount to only $54.8 million.

GOP Requires ‘Drastic Change’ To Remain Nationally Relevant, Says RNC Chair

The Republican National Committee (RNC) issued a lengthy report Monday strongly criticizing the party’s inability in recent elections to reach outside an increasingly homogenous and single-minded core of traditional voters.

Essentially telling party members they need to learn how to stop preaching to the choir, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the GOP “needs to stop talking to itself,” according to The Hill.

“We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”

The report, which Priebus also presented to the National Press Corps, is intended to retool the perception that the GOP is intransigent in accommodating younger voters who may not share the old guard’s views on social issues. Priebus ascribed Republican Congressional and Presidential candidates’ failings during the 2012 election season as a function of several factors, including the inflexible platform behind many campaigns. Many would have fared better, he argued, if they had followed the more populist and grass-roots campaign strategy that elected many of their counterparts to state gubernatorial seats.

“The GOP today is a tale of two parties. One of them, the gubernatorial wing, is growing and successful. The other, the federal wing, is increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future,” the reports states. “Public perception of the party is at record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us.”

The report indicates a key part of the RNC’s future strategy will require embracing the libertarian elements that Priebus himself eschewed at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

The RNC alienated supporters of Ron Paul in effectively marginalizing Paul’s 2012 campaign, but the recent popularity of Rand Paul’s smaller-government message has evidently resonated with Priebus.

The Washington Examiner quoted Priebus at last week’s CPAC event saying the party needs to embrace the “new generation” of young Republicans, even though their adherence to the party’s traditionally conservative social platform hasn’t jibed with party faithful in the past.

“I, for one, praise this new generation of liberty-minded Republicans. Just by speaking out, they got the attention and support of people who don’t vote for us,” he said.

Read the full text of Priebus’ vision for the GOP or watch the hour-long speech on C-SPAN.

That Whole ‘Wacko Birds’ Thing? My Bad, Says John McCain

Grudgingly conceding that Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), along with Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.), had all won their Congressional elections by popular vote, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) went on to tell Huffington Post on March 7:

I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone. I think it can be harmful if there is a belief among the American people that those people are reflective of the views of the majority of Republicans. They’re not.

Fast-forward a week. McCain found himself and his fellow RINOs on the outside looking in at the potential future of the GOP, as Paul and the new group of Republican Congressmen seized the momentum — all the while keeping their message not on internal party squabbles, but on those Americans eager for government to shrink into its appropriate role.

By Day One at CPAC, even McCain could see that relegating the surging “wacko bird” libertarian movement within his old-school GOP had been a strategic misstep, so he found himself on TV, eating a little… crow.

“In an interview I said that Sen. Cruz and Sen. Paul were ‘wacko birds,’” McCain told FOX News Friday. “That was inappropriate and I apologize to them for saying that, and I respect them both. I respect what they stand for and what they believe in. They both made an impact…in the United States Senate.”

Even though McCain appears not to have included Amash in his apology, that likely isn’t hurting the 32 year-old Congressman. He quickly co-opted the “wacko bird” appellation last week, using it as a badge of honor on his Twitter account.

10 Years Of Bloomberg Has Doubled Number Of NYC Residents On Food Stamps

The nanny mayor of New York City has managed to dramatically expand the liberal entitlement base — that is, the number of people who look to government as a providing parent — since taking office in 2002.

In the 10 years Michael Bloomberg has run the city, the number of New Yorkers receiving food stamps has more than doubled, according to a report by the New York Post.

By the numbers, that means a jump in city food stamp enrollment from 800,000 at the end of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s term in office to 1.8 million last year. A corollary figure, the number of New Yorkers receiving welfare-to-work and other public assistance, declined slightly over the same period from roughly 450,000 to just less than 400,000.

In 2002, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — the Federal program to assist the elderly, blind or disabled — was by far the biggest (and, arguably, the most justified) entitlement program used by New Yorkers, shelling out $3.01 billion in income subsidies. At the time, food stamp use in the five boroughs amounted to $1.28 billion.

Now, the city’s residents avail themselves of more than $3.4 billion in food stamps, a number that far exceeds the $2.9 billion (down from 2002) devoted to SSI benefits last year.

Chalk it up to aggressive recruiting.

“IBO spokesman Doug Turetsky cited more aggressive outreach to enroll eligible recipients by the Bloomberg administration, in comparison to his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani,” the Post reports.

Although Bloomberg is in his final term as mayor, his policy ambitions are national in scope; and the liberal agenda needs to increase the largesse of free stuff if it wants to continue cultivating its idiot power base.

But as the nanny giveth, so doth the nanny take away — or tries to. Just because Bloomberg may have swollen the food stamp registry in New York doesn’t mean he cares little for his morons’ health. He was incensed when the Feds — whom he generally regards as good, good friends — smacked down his 2011 proposal to ban the use of food stamps for soda purchases.

It’s not going to let up. In his last, lame-duck term, expect Bloomberg to start cashing in his good will with the freeloaders he’s helped suckle. They, along with sane New Yorkers, will all be poorer once it’s over.

New York Gun Grabbing Law Yields First Arrest

The first poor soul unfortunate enough to be snared in the enforcement dragnet of New York’s unConstitutional gun control law faces Class D felony charges for selling what are now “illegal” weapons.

Benjamin Wassell of Silver Creek, N.Y., was arrested after he allegedly sold two semi-automatic rifles and 300 rounds of ammunition to an undercover officer in January and again the following month.

One of the rifles, a DelTon DTI-15, was equipped with a pistol grip and bayonet mount, making it an illegal “assault weapon” under the new law.

According to The Associated Press, the undercover officer playing the buyer’s role had confessed to Wassell before the transaction that he had a felony on his record. Felons aren’t allowed to own firearms under Federal law.

If he’s found guilty, Wassell could spend up to seven years in prison. WBNG quoted a triumphant State police superintendent Joseph D’Amico, who claimed the arrest serves as an example of how New York’s draconian gun laws are already making its residents safer:

The defendant is accused of illegally selling assault weapons not once, but twice. Add to that, he was willing to sell to someone without knowing anything about their background, and it’s exactly the type of dangerous and illegal activity that can lead to more gun violence in our communities. Once again, our partnership with the Attorney General’s office has resulted in taking a dangerous criminal off the streets.

Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo led the rush to sign the State’s “NY SAFE” Act into law in January, weeks after a mass killing in neighboring Connecticut brought the topic to the top of the nationwide liberal agenda.

Among many other restrictions, the law bans high-capacity magazines, creates a registry for pre-existing owners of assault weapons, requires psychiatrists to report patients whom they feel to be a threat and increases sentences for crimes in which a gun is used.