Oil Drives ‘New Trade Axis’ Between Iraq And No. 1 Customer China

China’s thirst for Iraqi oil is propelling an alliance between the two Nations that, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), promises to send 80 percent of Iraq’s future petroleum exports to China.

The agency’s chief economist said there’s “a new trade axis being formed between Baghdad and Beijing” at a time when American interests in Iraqi oil are as low as they’ve been in the 10 years since U.S. troops first occupied the country.

Couple China’s aggressive search for a generous petroleum reserve with the American oil industry’s reluctance to brave the instability of Iraq’s infrastructure, safety and political climate, and the Iraqi-Chinese “axis” comes into clearer focus.

“The fact that [Chinese oil company] PetroChina is expanding in Iraq is not to me a sign of their strength; it’s a sign of their weakness,” said a New York-based energy consultant.

That’s because, despite the massive public investment that went into the United States’ invasion and reconfiguration of the Iraqi regime, American companies have the luxury of choosing more attractive petroleum mining options elsewhere (including on their home soil), rather than deal with the postwar headache that Iraqi oil logistics has become.

China, meanwhile, has far fewer options, and currently lacks the technology to explore recent and unconventional extraction methods that are benefitting U.S. companies at home and in West Africa.

 

 

Newark Mayor Says Late-Night Businesses Invite Violence, Shouldn’t Just ‘Have Their Way’

The Newark, N.J., mayor who once opposed regulating local businesses to death in the name of safety appears to be softening, suggesting now that the city should stop allowing businesses that stay open late at night to “have their way.”

CBS New York quotes Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s apparent change of heart in the wake of two deadly late-night shootings: one at a local IHOP, the other at a convenience store.

“Irvington closes their bars an hour before we do. East Orange closes restaurants at 10 p.m., so why in Newark [do] we let folks kind of have their way and go a lot later?” he asked. “We also want people to be safe and we’ve got to strike the balance. We need to start talking, questioning that. And if you want to stay open later, maybe there should be certain requirements.”

McCain And Gang Tweet Immigrant’s Pain, Gold Can’t Save You?, Mainstream Media=Robot Reporting, Dodgeball Breeds Psychopaths, Snail Sex Is Worth Your Money : Thursday Morning News Roundup 3-28-2013

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.

  • Gang-of-Eight RINO John McCain hung out around Nogales, Ariz., and allegedly watched someone try to scale an 18-foot border fence into the United States. He allegedly took a picture Johnny-on-the-spot, tweeted it and then tweeted again that the poor soul allegedly had been caught.

 

  • Global bank larceny has gotten so out of hand that financial seer Marc Faber is now warning investors not even gold will suffice as a haven to abide the coming meltdown. “My concern is that we are going to have a systemic crisis where it is going to be very difficult to hide,” Faber explains. “Even in gold. It will be difficult to hide.”

 

  • Finally, they’re carrying one of the de facto truths of mainstream media to its logical conclusion: Computers are starting to robo-report the news in place of mainstream media journalists. The Los Angeles Times is doing it (though another paper, of course, reported the story.) May the droids fare better.

 

  • A local school board in New Hampshire is getting tough on dodgeball and other “human target” recreational mainstays. Drawing a line between the childhood staple and bullying, aggression and violent tendencies that carry over into adulthood, the board voted to ban the playground and street games — over the opposition of some parents who called the vote a “nanny state” move.

 

  • Priorities: The University of Iowa is spending nearly 1 million Federally awarded dollars to study whether New Zealand mud snails get anything more than kids out of having sex. It’s been ongoing since 2011; but, you know, with snails, these things take time.

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

What’s This? Healthcare Premiums Could Rise Under Obamacare?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — you know it as Obamacare — inches closer and closer to revealing itself as the social-engineering bill of goods many Americans saw it for, from the moment it first passed in 2010.

This week’s revelation? That coverage premiums will actually rise — for the demographic most in need of the so-called affordable care — as the new law comes online.

That admission comes from no less than a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet: Kathleen Sebelius, secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Next year is the first fiscal cycle that many of the Obamacare plan’s most sweeping provisions are set to take effect. Ahead of the changes, insurance companies are due to start making their 2014 rates known in coming weeks.

“As a former insurance commissioner I have watched what transparency does to a market. This is the first time ever in the history of the United States that insurance companies have to file their rates, it has to be very transparent, they have to offer the same kind of coverage without 5,000 tiny little lines and internal caps, and they have to compete for customers,” Sebelius told reporters Tuesday. “And I am a believer in the market strategies that in and of itself will minimize the rate impact.”

The idea that Obamacare “forces” insurers to be transparent in their rates schemes, and thereby introduces a self-correcting bit of market competitiveness that’s supposed to drive coverage prices down, has been a major point of contention. From Day One, the Obama Administration has put its full faith in the idea that insurers will reduce their prices in order to stay competitive.

But then, according to The Wall Street Journal, Sibelius said this of young people and others who are currently either without healthcare coverage, or who are underserved by their current insurance:

These folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time, and so there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market. But we feel pretty strongly that with subsidies available to a lot of that population that they are really going to see much better benefit for the money that they’re spending.

Truth is, no one knows what insurers’ rates will look like for customers new to the Obamacare-influenced market next year; but there’s a lot of reason to start saving now. A study released this month indicates that per-person medical claim costs under individually insured plans could jump 32 percent, on average, once the law is in full effect. Add to that a separate WSJ report last week that insurance companies are already cautioning brokers to get ready for a steep increase in individual and small business-sponsored healthcare plan premiums in 2014.

Sibelius’ comments Tuesday simply mark her as one of the first Obama officials to actually acknowledge that plain fact — however grudgingly.

NYPD’s UnConstitutional Stop-And-Frisk Game

Imagine walking down the street in some less-traveled part of Manhattan — say, the Morningside Heights neighborhood. You’re enjoying the mild weather and urban hum of an early April evening. Maybe you’re a visitor who wants a street-level view of residential life in the big city. Maybe you’re a Columbia University student, walking to the bus stop after a day in the classroom.

Or maybe you’re a run-of-the-mill native New Yorker, one of millions of city dwellers whose parents or grandparents put down roots in the Nation’s greatest ethnic melting pot, all in a bid to realize the American dream.

Now imagine a squad car pulling up and a pair of NYPD’s finest pouncing out of the vehicle with their guns drawn — on you. Imagine being thrown against a wall, your pockets emptied, the contents of your backpack dumped on the ground, the feel of pistol steel against the back of your head. Imagine not knowing a thing about why it happened, having no inkling of what was about to happen — or why. It just happened, and then you’re back on your way.

Oh, and imagine that every bit of that happened less than a block from your own home.

That’s the stop-and-frisk experience for many New Yorkers each day, as it has been since 1971, when the policy was first allowed under a court-established legal precedent. The city has come under increased criticism in recent years for allowing the police to rely more heavily on the policy than in the past.

Now, police testimony in a class-action lawsuit against the city confirms what many already knew: The cops are targeting minorities and using a quota system that’s driven from the top down. The Guardian describes the testimony of two New York Police Department officers who testified in Federal court last week, noting the stop-and-frisk program is “driven by a high-pressure quota system imposed upon lower-ranking officers.”

One of the cops, officer Adhyl Polanco, said Tuesday that “there’s a difference” between what the police are supposed to do and “what goes on out there.” He also said cops in his Bronx precinct had been expected to issue 20 summonses and make one arrest every month, with tangible repercussions for failure. If they couldn’t, a senior officer would hop in the squad car with them, take them out into the streets and show the younger cop how it’s done.

“We were handcuffing kids for no reason,” he added.

There’s an undeniable connection between the jump in residents’ stop-and-frisk complaints over the past decade and the tenures of both Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Stop and frisk has seen its search count increase by 600 percent since Bloomberg became mayor. Since it began, the program has accounted for more than 5 million impromptu searches, a dubious honor it acquired just last week.

While crime has declined in New York City, plaintiffs in the lawsuit point out that it’s not an exceptional trend, that crime in most U.S. urban centers has experienced similar declines — without policies in place that authorize unConstitutional searches.

The lawsuit understandably seeks an end to stop-and-frisk on 4th Amendment grounds. Nearly 90 percent of all stop-and-frisk searches end with no arrest, summons or citation. By far, most of those who’ve been searched have been black or Hispanic. The Guardian article references one cop who described the target demographic for stop and frisk as “male blacks 14 to 21.”

A Republican Congress In 2014? GOP Senate Takeover Gains Momentum

In the years in between Congressional elections, punditry over each party’s bid to control the U.S. House and Senate tends to die down. But with the announced retirement of one Senate Democrat who hails from a largely red state, political forecasters are reviving the 2012 election-season talk that predicts a GOP takeover when the 2014 elections roll around.

Senator Tim Johnson (D-S.C.) announced Tuesday he won’t run again when his Senate seat comes open in 2014. That brings to 21 the total number of Senate seats currently held by Democrats that will come up in the 2014 election cycle. Five of those 21 will be available because Democratic incumbents like Johnson retired.

That’s double trouble for the Democratic Party, because retiring Democrats from Republican-leaning States often take with them a measure of moderate, crossover rapport that dries up as younger and, often, more liberal candidates come on board. Johnson’s retirement marks the second instance of a Democrat — one representing a State that voted Republican in the 2012 Presidential race — stepping away from the Senate after his current term.

In contrast with the Democrats’ bid to retain 21 seats in 2014, Republicans must retain only 14.

Right now, there are 53 Democrats in the Senate and 45 Republicans. Two more independent Senators caucus with the Democrats. That means the GOP must gain at least six seats to form a simple majority. There might be other political eras when those kinds of numbers would present a tremendous challenge to GOP leaders. But in the lame-duck days of President Barack Obama, Republicans are already sharpening their knives.

“It’s murderous in 2014,” said The Washington Post of Democrats’ chances, back before the 2012 elections had even taken place.

The Obama voter-backlash factor could be decisive on a national scale this time, expanding far beyond the 2010 and 2012 backlash witnessed in conservative regions, where polls saw an abundance of straight-ticket GOP voting. Voters everywhere will finally be getting their first real taste of Obamacare — a big wild card that could strongly affect public opinion going into the 2014 season. And in order to retain some good will among even Democratic voters in all but a handful of predominantly urban states, the President would have to swerve course dramatically, between now and next year, on hard-line gun control, civil liberties, spending and White House transparency.

“The playing field and weather conditions are great for us,” a GOP spokesman told The Hill Tuesday. “Now we have to go out and execute.”

Hunters Threaten Boycott While Gun Grabbers Run Colorado

Following last week’s passage of three pieces of legislation making Colorado a pretty unfriendly place for guns owners and the exercise of 2nd Amendment powers, some hunters are uniting to deny the State something very empowering indeed: revenue.

Websites where gun and hunting enthusiasts share ideas have now become bulletin boards where word of the boycott has begun gaining momentum, according to a Gazette story Wednesday.

Outfitters have also begun reporting cancelled trips from out-of-State hunters, though not in devastating numbers — so far. One hunting guide said it’s likely the trend will grow.

“There’s a united front of sportsmen that are tired of having their freedoms and liberties and fundamental rights taken away from them,” said Chris Jurney, who offers support and guidance for hunters in the State’s northwest corner. “That kind of unity among sportsmen is going to be big, and unfortunately for those of us who live here, we’re going to suffer the consequences of this misguided legislation.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signed the three pieces of controversial gun control legislation into law on March 20. The laws limit the size of ammo magazines to 15 rounds, require universal background checks for gun transactions and force customers to pay for the background checks.

You already know about Magpul, the Erie-based business who’s in the process of moving its operations out of the State in response to the ban. The Outdoor Channel’s Michael Bane is following suit, declining to film his hunting programs in Colorado while the State’s new gun laws remain.

Pardon Me, Mr. President?

An irony of the Administration of President Barack Obama is the President’s parsimonious attitude toward one of the office’s most distinguished powers: the Presidential pardon.

According to an analysis by Reason, Obama’s record on extending clemency is unmatched for stinginess.

Of the 43 U.S. Presidents who preceded Obama, only George Washington, William Henry Harrison and James Garfield pardoned fewer people than the current President has done through a single term in office.

An Illinois political science professor explains that those three examples would be hard for any President to match: as our Nation’s first President, Washington likely didn’t receive many clemency requests; Harrison died after serving one month in office; and Garfield made it four months before he was shot.

Where does that leave Obama?

Way behind Republican bulldogs like Richard Nixon and George (take your pick) Bush:

The odds of winning a pardon from Obama so far are 1 in 59, compared to 1 in 2 under Richard Nixon, 1 in 3 under Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, 1 in 5 under Ronald Reagan, 1 in 10 under George H.W. Bush, 1 in 5 under Bill Clinton, and 1 in 13 under George W. Bush.

The President of social compassion and second chances is one tough customer when it comes to clemency.

TSA And Pepper Spray Don’t Mix

Good grief.

A Transportation Security Administration agent sent six people, including himself, to the hospital this week by being an idiot. (He’s clearly not alone.)

The New York Post reports the agent, Chris Yves Dabel, spotted a pepper spray container at a security checkpoint and evidently mistook it for a laser pointer.

Well, everybody knows how fun those are to play with — especially while in the employ of a government security agency whose sole mission seems to be letting would-be bad guys get onto planes while making the flying experience nearly unbearable for everyone else.

So Dabel started “playing around with it,” according to an official at Kennedy Airport. He ended up squirting himself and five of his good TSA buddies, and they all went to the hospital together.

Mercifully, no passengers were injured. The security lines at Kennedy were delayed about 15 minutes.

SCOTUS Hesitant On Nixing Prop 8, Cyprus Thugs Ready To Impose State Control, Gorbachev Says Putin Has ‘Destroyed’ Progress, Gun Rights Supporter Flips Jim Carrey Autograph To Buy Handgun: Wednesday Morning News Roundup 3-27-2013

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.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court may have sent a signal during Tuesday’s oral arguments that it’s in no hurry to play the role of lawmaker when it comes to overturning California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy cautioned that same-sex marriage advocates are asking the high court to “go into uncharted waters.”

 

  • You knew this was coming: Cyprus is contracting with a giant British security company to deploy guards to control the mobs angry that they’ve been ripped off. State-sanctioned theft and brutality: The system works!

 

  • A candid Mikhail Gorbachev says the reforms he tried to institute after the former Soviet Union dissolved have been “distorted or completely violated, destroyed” under the hawkish Vladimir Putin, a man who thinks the breakup of the USSR was the biggest “geopolitical catastrophe” of the past hundred years.

 

  • One enterprising gun rights supporter (and former Jim Carrey fan) decided he’d had enough of Carrey after watching the actor’s gun-grabbing “Cold Dead Hands” propaganda video. So he put his autographed photo of Carrey up for sale on eBay.  His goal? $640 to buy a Glock.

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

 

SCOTUS Rules Cops Can’t Just Show Up With A Dog And No Warrant

A majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court this week frustrated the State of Florida (as well as the Federal government and 26 other States) by ruling that police who bring a sniff dog onto a homeowner’s property and turn up evidence related to the dog’s signaling are conducting a “search” as defined by the 4th Amendment.

That means cops can’t suspect you of growing marijuana in a house, turn up casually at your front door with a dog — you know, just to ask a few questions — and thereafter develop probable cause to search the house, as the dog sniffs around at the front door and begins indicating there’s something illegal inside.

That’s exactly what happened to one homeowner in the Miami area in 2006, when police acting on an unverified tip visited the home of Joelis Jardines, with Drug Enforcement Administration agents waiting in the wings. They didn’t have a warrant, and the tip alone wasn’t sufficient probable cause to obtain a search warrant. The cops let the dog sniff at the front door. The dog signaled that narcotics were somewhere nearby. And the cops then applied for and received a search warrant.

The police had initiated no contact with Jardines during this episode. That contact came only when they returned to the house with the search warrant, found the marijuana being grown inside and arrested Jardines.

The Florida Supreme Court had already sided with Jardines after he appealed a lower court’s ruling that dog searches aren’t covered under the 4th Amendment. Realizing the broad implications the decision could have to limit search powers, the State then appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And lost.

It’s worth culling the high points from Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion:

Since the officers’ investigation took place in a constitutionally protected area, we turn to the question of whether it was accomplished through an unlicensed physical intrusion…

…As it is undisputed that the detectives had all four of their feet firmly planted on the constitutionally protected extension of Jardines’ home, the only question is whether he had given his leave (even implicitly) for them to do so. He had not.

…We have accordingly recognized that “the knocker on the front door is treated as an invitation or license to attempt an entry, justifying ingress to the home by solicitors, hawkers and peddlers of all kinds.” This implicit license typically permits the visitor to approach the home by the front path, knock promptly, wait briefly to be received, and then (absent invitation to linger longer) leave.

Complying with the terms of that traditional invitation does not require fine-grained legal knowledge; it is generally managed without incident by the Nation’s Girl Scouts and trick-or-treaters. Thus, a police officer not armed with a warrant may approach a home and knock, precisely because that is “no more than any private citizen might do.”

But introducing a trained police dog to explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence is something else. There is no customary invitation to do that. An invitation to engage in canine forensic investigation assuredly does not inhere in the very act of hanging a knocker. To find a visitor knocking on the door is routine (even if sometimes unwelcome); to spot that same visitor exploring the front path with a metal detector, or marching his bloodhound into the garden before saying hello and asking permission, would inspire most of us to — well, call the police.

Well said.

Two disappointments, though, about Tuesday’s decision:

  • It was close. The majority decision came after a 5-4 vote.
  • Tuesday’s victory for 4th-Amendment freedom stands in contrast to a misstep the court made in January, when it held that police dogs’ training and certification is itself sufficient grounds for courts to admit evidence based on the accuracy of their signaling. That decision came in spite of evidence that “real-world data demonstrate that even trained or certified dogs have a high rate of false alerts” and can take their signaling cues from handlers or from other stimuli in their environments.

Big Sis Eyeing The White House?

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was coy this week when asked about her Presidential ambitions in 2016.

The former Arizona Governor — beloved by Democrats for checking off all the right Pavlovian, heuristic boxes (she’s a woman; she appears “tough,” she had political success in a traditionally Republican western State) that often fuel low-information voting — has already received early buzz as a possible 2016 stand-in, should Hillary Clinton decide not to run.

The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard explains Big Sis may appeal to moderate Democrats who’ve historically wanted a “centrist” candidate:

Some Democrats are excited about her potential candidacy because of her ability to win often in Republican Arizona and because she has been progressive in pushing for immigration reform. She also presents a non-nonsense, law and order demeanor attractive to independents.

As governor, Time Magazine in 2005 called her one of the best in the nation. “Positioning herself as a no-nonsense, pro-business centrist, she has worked outside party lines since coming to office in January 2003 to re-energize a state that, under her predecessors, was marked by recession and scandal.”

Napolitano deflected questions about a Presidential bid Tuesday at a Washington, D.C., breakfast gathering:

“I think my plate is so full right now that I think that contemplation would be the kind of thing that would keep me up at night,” she said. “And I lose enough sleep as it is.”

So is she saying there’s a chance?

From outside the mainstream media, the idea of Big Sis as President may look risible. But one thing Napolitano might have going in her favor is her potential appeal — depending on how her Department enacts the current President’s efforts at border and immigration reform — to the growing demographic of Hispanic voters.

Those voters overwhelmingly swung left in the 2012 general election, and they will likely to continue favoring Democratic candidates until Republicans figure out a way either to capture a chunk of the Latino vote or relegate their bloc voting power by cultivating other voting blocs to offset the numbers.

One question: If and when she leaves her DHS post, will Big Sis take all her bullets with her, or will she leave them for her successor?

Poll Finds Fading Support For Federal Gun-Grabbing Legislation

Mass murders like the December 2012 shooting in Connecticut may provide perverse political fodder for gun-control advocates like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to push for more restrictive Federal gun-ownership laws; but in the eyes of the American public, it appears their gun-grabbing agenda is losing momentum.

Results of a CBS News poll released this week show 47 percent of those questioned now believe Congress should approve stricter laws on gun ownership — a number that’s gone down from 57 percent in a December survey conducted shortly after the Connecticut elementary school shooting.

By political party, 52 percent of those who identified themselves as Republicans said current gun laws should continue without changes, while 66 percent of Democrats believed gun control laws should be made stricter. Overall, 39 percent of those surveyed said current gun-ownership laws are sufficient and shouldn’t be changed.

Women surveyed were more likely to favor making guns harder to obtain, with 55 percent of women saying current laws aren’t strict enough — as opposed to 39 percent of men.

By region, Northerners still are buying into the gun-control talk in higher proportion to Americans throughout the rest of the country. Of those respondents who live in northern States, 58 percent support more regulation, while 44 percent of people in the South and Midwest agreed. In the western part of the United States, 47 percent of respondents favor tougher gun legislation.

Among those who’ve sought the national spotlight in the hope of eroding citizens’ 2nd Amendment powers, Bloomberg especially has demonstrated a readiness to seize upon the public outrage over mass shootings as an opportunity to sell American lawmakers on the idea that they need to strip all citizens of their Constitutionally protected freedoms pertaining to the owning of firearms.

With no supporting outside funding, Bloomberg created the Independence USA super PAC (political action committee) last October, vowing to use money he’s put into the fund to help support gun-grabbing legislative candidates nationwide, as well as to buy advertising that pushes his agenda in so-called “battleground” States. Bloomberg has contributed about $12 million to the PAC so far.

He has also funded anti-gun advertisements through his Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization. The televised ads are currently airing in 13 States viewed as “swing States” in next month’s Senate battle over a Democrat-sponsored bill aiming to expand background checks for gun buyers.

Alabama School Censors ‘Easter’ (The Word) And ‘Egg’ (The Shape) From Easter Egg Hunt Party

An elementary school in Madison, Ala., has managed to go forward with a planned Easter-themed school event while simultaneously banning any mention of the word “Easter.” In the interest of skirting any accusations that they still weren’t going far enough to preserve the appearance of religious diversity, school officials played it safe and went ahead and banned Easter egg-shaped objects from the festivities, too.

WHNT reported last week that Heritage Elementary in Madison — an affluent, mostly white suburb of Huntsville — had abandoned plans this year to hold an “academic egg hunt” for kindergartners and second-graders.

Principal Lydia Davenport said the school had, in previous years, received some communications from a parent who raised the issue of religious diversity, prompting the administration this year to forego any reference not only to Easter, Christianity or resurrections, but also to eggs, things shaped like eggs and bunnies identified by use of proper adjectives… as in “Easter bunnies.”

“Kids love the bunny, and we just make sure we don’t say ‘the Easter bunny’ so that we don’t infringe on the rights of others because people relate the Easter bunny to religion: a bunny is a bunny and a rabbit is a rabbit,” the principal explained.

Bloomberg Says ‘There Are Certain Times We Should Infringe On Your Freedom’ Ahead Of Anti-NRA Spending Spree

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to spend far more than the $12 million he’s already spent on ad campaigns castigating Congressmen who’ve paused at the idea that infringing on personal freedoms is unConstitutional.

Bloomberg, who contributes millions out of his personal fortune to organizations and political action committees (he actually started his own anti-gun PAC last year), is helping drum up funds for a multi-State ad blitz this week targeting Senators he feels might be persuaded into acting on gun control legislation during the current Congressional session.

He’s making a play for the hearts and minds of low-information voters, with an eye toward offsetting the spending power of the National Rifle Association in the run-up to Congressional elections in 2014:

If I can do that by spending some money, and taking the NRA from being the only voice to being one of the voices, so the public can really understand the issues, then I think my money will be well spent and I think I have an obligation to do that.

Laudably quixotic as ever, Bloomberg’s idea of helping the public “really understand the issues” involves telling people they want something they don’t want — whether it be small sodas, hidden baby formula or gun bans — and then asking that they trust him to protect their safety instead of trusting the Constitution to protect their liberty.

That’s not a rant; Bloomberg said it himself Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet The Press” (full video here): “I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom.”

So many ominous things in that statement:

Telling Americans it’s appropriate that the state “infringe” on the freedoms of all citizens — not those few who’ve forfeited their freedoms through the due process of law.

Perversely appropriating that word, “infringe,” straight from his most despised passage in the Bill of Rights (that’s the 2nd Amendment, guaranteeing the right to bear arms) — in order to subvert the very freedoms it was created to secure.

“We” versus “you.”

Bloomberg’s comments came as he defended his failed attempt to ban large sodas in New York. At one point, he called the whole soda-ban fiasco just a big “public awareness” campaign — one he still says the city’s health department “has the legal ability to do.”

But his remarks, and his dogged commitment to his social engineering daydream, reveal Bloomberg’s Orwellian attitude toward individual freedoms on every front. In the coming months and years, he will spend many millions of dollars to sell a hypocritical message of gun control not only to New Yorkers, but to all Americans.

How hypocritical? Bloomberg himself brings along a retinue of on-the-clock New York Police Department guards for armed protection every time he flies to Bermuda. For personal protection.

Arguments For, Against Gay Marriage Laws Before SCOTUS Today

A pair of cases in which challenges to existing laws have made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court will inch closer to resolutions this week, with possible implications for sweeping changes to the way same-sex marriage is treated, both by the Federal government and by each State.

Beginning today, the high court will hear arguments on whether California’s Proposition 8 — a voter referendum that approved modifying the California State constitution so that only marriages between men and women would be recognized by the State — stands in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Since its passage in 2008, Proposition 8 has effectively banned same-sex marriage in California.

On Wednesday, the court will also hear arguments in a challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a Federal law signed by President Bill Clinton. The DOMA defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman in the eyes of the Federal government.

Both cases present the potential to effect enormous changes in the way the state treats marriage.

While homosexuals in California have largely gotten around the implications of Proposition 8 through that State’s recognizing of same-sex “domestic partnerships” instead of marriage, the outcome of the Proposition 8 case still asks the high court to determine a Constitutional issue that would apply to all 50 States. The Proposition 8 case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court because the plaintiffs asked for a ruling on whether the U.S. Constitution prohibits the States from legislating that marriage can mean only the joining of a man and a woman.

The DOMA also challenges the Constitutionality of how the government recognizes marriage — at the Federal level. The case that brought a challenge to the DOMA involves a New York widow who was “married” to the same female partner for four decades, yet was not allowed, under DOMA, to claim a Federal estate tax exemption when her deceased partner’s property passed to her.

The DOMA case doesn’t address whether gays have a Constitutional right to marry; it simply asks the Supreme Court to decide whether Congress and the President have the power to withhold Federal benefits to same-sex partners that heterosexual partners receive.

Dozens of Congressmen, the Administration of President Barack Obama and the U.S. Attorney General’s office have all weighed in, asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. So has Clinton, who said he’s had a change of heart since signing the original legislation into law.

An opinion in both cases is expected in June.

Actor In Gun Grab TV Ad Violates Basic Gun Safety

An actor who portrays a hunter in a new pair of ads pushing for Federal gun control doesn’t exactly know how to handle that shotgun he’s holding.

The man, who claims he’s a hunter, sits on the tailgate of a pickup and talks about how hunting is a big part of his family history. He talks about why background checks are a good thing and says no one’s trying to take your guns away. He’s got the requisite mountain-man facial hair, and he’s holding a shotgun.

But critics who’ve paid attention point out the guy is clueless when it comes to gun safety. His onscreen behavior seems to violate the National Rifle Association’s three fundamental rules of gun safety.

He’s holding the gun in a way that suggests the kids in the ad’s background could move into in its line of fire: a no-no. He’s got his finger on the trigger of the gun, even though he clearly isn’t ready to shoot at anything: a big no-no. And he’s holding his pump-action shotgun with the bolt closed, so there’s no way to know if he’s breaking another fundamental rule: keep a gun unloaded until you’re ready to use it.

The ad was paid for by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a project organization partially created and funded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg has committed $12 million of his own money to help push the ads in 13 States where Senators on the fence about gun control might be swayed to vote on a slew of gun restrictions the Senate will take up after Easter.

 

Local Cops See Ammo Shortage While Congress Asks Big Sis: Bullets? Why You Need Those Stinkin’ Bullets?

Maybe something will give soon. More and more members of Congress are beginning to dial up the heat on the Department of Homeland Security to divulge its justification for taking steps to amass an alleged 20 years’ worth of ammunition.

Infowars reported Friday that Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and 14 other House members have written DHS to determine what all these bullets are really for, and whether the big buy is part of an effort to artificially choke supply and drive up prices.

The letter comes on the heels of bipartisan clamoring for DHS head Janet “Big Sis” Napolitano to speak plainly on the topic — something she so far hasn’t done.

The Congressmen should be helped along by emerging reports that city and county cops across the United States are having to ration bullets, be put on waiting lists or even barter with other agencies in order to avoid running out of ammunition for both training and patrol use.

CNS News compiles several such reports in the past two months, from Texas to Montana to Tennessee to Wisconsin. One Ohio city is applying for an ammo grant.

As you likely know, DHS isn’t military; it’s an agency ostensibly preoccupied with domestic safety. A February analysis determined the United States would have had to extend the most heated portion of its Iraq war for an additional 24 years to expend the amount of ammo our supposed Homeland protectors have snatched up.

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.