White House Aides Owe $333k In Delinquent Federal Tax

Always lead by example.

If you were brought up to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, hopefully your parents set a good example by paying their taxes.

Evidently, President Barack Obama’s White House staff didn’t get that kind of upbringing. Forty of his White House aides owe a combined $333,485 in back taxes to the entity that cuts their paychecks – the Federal government – this year.

A story at the Investor’s Business Daily website notes that Congress “required the IRS to make the annual report of all federal employees with an eye toward making up-to-date taxes a condition of government employment.

That idea, you’ll be shocked to learn, has not yet passed Congress.”

The article notes this is the third straight year White House aides haven’t met their Federal tax obligations under President Obama. The total owed by 36 aides last year ended up at more than $800,000; the previous year saw similar delinquency.

No wonder they can’t afford to keep giving White House tours.

Tax delinquency among Federal employees is on the increase in general, with 12 percent delinquent filings (or non-filings) in the most recent annual report. Collectively, delinquent Federal employees owe $3.52 billion in unpaid Federal taxes.

Real Wisdom In Rand Paul’s Filibuster Freestyling

Since coming into use in the mid-1800s, Senate filibusters can, and have, been filled with crazy ephemera to draw out their length. Huey Long read Cajun recipies; Al D’Amato sang and read the phone book; Strom Thurmond read other States’ election laws.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said a lot of things Wednesday when he took the Senate floor to get his drone question answered. Over the course of 13 hours, he had to repeat himself a lot, and he filled plenty of time by tediously expounding on his vision of the importance of civil liberties in the United States.

But he didn’t read from the phone book, and he didn’t offer 100 ways to make gumbo. In fact, the more he delved into the “whys” and “hows” of his argument — one that sought a guarantee from the Administration of President Barack Obama that Americans would never, without due process, become drone targets at home — the more opportunities he gave himself to offer true, definitive articles of faith for a Libertarian reading of the U.S. Constitution.

Like these:

An Individual Has The Right…

This is not something that is good for the country. And by relinquishing the power of Congress, we relinquish something very fundamental to our republic, which is the checks and balances that we should have; checks and balances to help and try to prevent one body – or one part of the three parts of government – from obtaining too much power…the bipartisanship that we have now, which many in the media fail to understand, they see us not getting along on taxes and on spending, but they fail to understand that on something very important – on whether or not an individual has a right to a trial by jury, whether an individual has the right to not be detained indefinitely, that there is quite a bit of bipartisanship.

Alarm Bells Should Go Off…

Alarm bells should go off when people tell you that the battlefield’s in America. Why? Because when the battlefield’s in America, we don’t have due process. What they’re talking about is they want the laws of war. They call it the laws of war. Another way to put it is to call it martial law. That’s what they want in the United States when they say the battlefield is here… When people tell you that America is a battlefield, when they tell you that the battlefield is here, realize what they are telling you. They are telling you your Bill of Rights don’t apply…

We Shouldn’t Give Up [on due process] easily…

Certain things rise above partisanship. And I think your right to be secure in your person, the right to be secure in your liberty, the right to be tried by a jury of your peers — these are things that are so important and rise to such a level that we shouldn’t give up on them easily.

We Can’t Have War That Has No Temporal Limits…

War is war. War is hell. But we can’t have perpetual war. We can’t have war that has no temporal limits, and we can’t then have war that is a part of our daily life in our country, that we’re going to say from now on in our country you really don’t have the protections of the Bill of Rights.

Power Itself Is Intoxicating…

They [new Presidents] see the power that the presidency has. It’s enormous. They see themselves as good people, and they say I can’t give up any power because I’m going to do good with that power. The problem they don’t see is that the power itself is intoxicating, and the power someday may be in the hands of someone else who is less inclined to use it in a good way. I think that’s why the power grows, and grows, and grows: because everybody believes themselves to be doing the right thing.

Has The Presidency So Transformed Him That He Has Forgotten What He Stood For?

I’m a Republican. I didn’t vote or support the President either time, but I admired him, particularly in 2007 when he ran. I admired his ability to stand up and say we won’t torture people – that’s not what America does. How does the President’s mind work, though? The President that seemed so honorable; seemed so concerned with our rights; seemed so concerned with the right not to have your phone be tapped, now says he’s not concerned with whether you can be killed without a trial. The leap of logic is so fantastic as to boggle the mind. Where is the Barack Obama of 2007? Has the Presidency so transformed him that he has forgotten his moorings, forgotten what he stood for? Civil libertarians once expected more from the president.

Barack Obama of 2007 would be right down here with me arguing against this drone strike program if he were in the Senate. It amazes and disappoints me how much he has actually changed from what he once stood for.

Due Process – It’s Not Always Easy To Sort Out The Details Of Who Is A Threat…

The Fifth Amendment protects you – it protects from you a king placing you in the tower, but it also should protect from you a President that might kill you with a drone. We were granted due process – it’s not always easy to sort out the details of who is a threat.

The Majority Doesn’t Get To Decide Whom We Execute…

He [the President] was elected by a majority, but the majority doesn’t get to decide whom we execute.

Our Rights Are Gradually…Slipping Away…

Our rights are gradually eroding. I think they are gradually slipping away from us. I think the understanding of the Constitution as a document that restrains your government, that restrains the size and scope of your government has been lost on a lot of people, and I think it’s something we shouldn’t give up on …

…When we’re talking about changing the way that we adjudicate guilt, changing the way we decide someone’s life or death, it’s too important just to say, “Oh, Mr. President, go ahead and do it and as long as you tell me you have no intent of breaking the law or no intent of killing Americans…”

It just simply isn’t enough.

The Bill Of Rights…I think We Give Up Too Easily…

Can you imagine with all the checks and balances of our court system, which I think is the best in the entire world…sometimes you can still get it wrong. If we can get it wrong in the best system in the world, do you think one politician might get it wrong? But you will a never know, because nobody is told who is going to be killed. It is a secret list.

So how do you protest? How do you say, “I’m innocent?” How do you say, “Yes, I email with my cousin who lives in the Middle East, and I didn’t know he was involved in that?” Do you not get a chance to explain yourself in a court of law before you get a hellfire missile dropped on your head? So I think that really, it just amazes me that people are so willing and eager to throw out the Bill of Rights and just say, “Oh, that’s fine. You know, terrorists are a big threat to us. And, you know, I am so fearful that they will attack me that I’m willing to give up my rights; I’m willing to give up on the Bill Of Rights? I think we give up too easily.

You’re Not Allowed To Smoke…

If we believe [President Obama] to be a good man who would never kill noncombatants in a cafe in Houston, sitting out in a sidewalk cafe, smoking — oh, that’s right; you’re not allowed to smoke cigarettes anymore.

Bill Clinton Urges Supreme Court To Reverse Federal Man-Woman Marriage Act He Signed In 1996

In a Thursday opinion piece published in The Washington Post, former Democratic President Bill Clinton called on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) he signed into law 17 years ago.

The Act decreed there would be no Federal protection for any State or political subset in the States whose governments might decide to recognize marriage as a union between same-sex partners. In other words, the Act didn’t ban gay marriage, but it guaranteed that any such marriage ordained by cities, counties and States would be purely civil in nature and that it wouldn’t be recognized by other States or by the Federal government. It secured, for gay “spouses,” the legal protections and obligations afforded anybody who’s going steady.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on two cases dealing with same-sex marriage later this month, and could possibly overturn all or part of the Act. Such a move wouldn’t legalize same-sex marriage, but it would hit the reset button for States where same-sex marriage has been legalized since DOMA passed in 1996. And it’s unclear whether it would automatically validate the marriages of those who’ve already been married under State same-sex marriage laws.

Clinton argued that States’ recent efforts to recognize same-sex marriage reflect the conflicts of a very different Nation, both in law and in culture, than the America of the mid-90s:

Although that was only 17 years ago, it was a very different time. In no state in the union was same-sex marriage recognized, much less available as a legal right, but some were moving in that direction. Washington, as a result, was swirling with all manner of possible responses, some quite draconian…[M]any supporters of the bill known as DOMA believed that its passage “would defuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more.” It was under these circumstances that DOMA came to my desk, opposed by only 81 of the 535 members of Congress…

…As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution.

The 42nd President isn’t the first voice from the political Left to send a message to the Supreme Court before it hears the two cases. The Administration of President Barack Obama filed an amicus brief last month repudiating the present lack of government benefits for same-sex partners. And the 44th President — yes, that’s Obama — had a few things to say on the topic at his second inaugural in January.

Keep Your Dissent Timid Under New N.Y. Town’s Meeting Rules

A Long Island town has a new law that won’t allow citizens to boo or hiss their disapproval of proceedings during council meetings.

CBS 2 of New York reports the five-member Riverhead town council approved the no-booing resolution when it adopted rules of procedure at its March 5 meeting.

One councilman voted against the new rule, saying: “I don’t really need somebody or a policy telling me how I should behave in public.” The measure passed 4-1 anyway.

The council in the 33,000-person town admitted it intends to enforce the rule only with words, since the resolution provides no penalty for transgressors. If you “engage in any disruptive demonstration, booing or otherwise disrupt the formality of a Town Board meeting,” you’ll simply be told to quit.

Many American towns and county governments have similar clauses in their rules of procedure; others cover civil-but-disruptive dissent under ordinances, which can be enforced with penalties.

In Riverhead, every council meeting begins with an invocation, and the council is more generous than many municipal governments with its five-minute speaking limit during each meeting’s public comments portion.

Perhaps the local attention Riverhead has gotten over its disruption clause actually serves to illustrate the overhaul that’s needed for so many other municipalities’ rules of procedure.

TSA Gives Employee Security Clearance To Former Perps; Some ‘May Still Have Access’

According to a report presented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) permitted airport employee security badges to be issued to 11 people with criminal records. In five of those cases, the airports were found to be out of compliance because they didn’t catch their mistake.

The report’s executive summary found the TSA had internal communication issues (discovery!), and it crossed its wires in securing vendors — in this case, vendors “for relaying information used to issue airport security badges” — and that it didn’t “properly plan, manage and implement the project.”

Best part? Just because they caught it doesn’t mean they can fix it:

[A]ccording to records available for our review, at least five airports granted badges to individuals with criminal records, giving them access to secured airport areas. TSA did not track which airports temporarily issued badges to individuals without the required background checks. Therefore, some individuals with criminal records may still have access to secured areas in our Nation’s airports.

With Federal overpolicing this inept, maybe we really don’t have anything to worry about.

Obama Sibling Gets Clobbered In Kenya Race, Most NYC Grads Can’t Read, Billy Bob Says SCOTUS Should Strike Down His DOMA, Obamacare Means IRS Can Pick And Choose Audits, Tax On Email To Prop Up USPS?, TSA Succeeds At Failing: Friday Morning News Roundup 3-8-2013

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.

 

  • Abong’o Malik Obama — yes, the President’s paternal half-brother — got owned in newly established county elections held in Kenya this week. He finished third. Maybe he was too conservative.

 

  • Just graduate from a New York City public school? Good luck reading this post. College officials told CBS 2 in New York they had to remediate 80 percent of local graduates before they could begin college level work. Thank God for Pell Grants.

 

  • As the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, none other than Bill Clinton has weighed in with a guest spot at The Washington Post. His message? Overturn the Act I signed in 1996 and allow same-sex marriage.

 

  • IRS, the Enforcer: The implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act means at least 47 new Federal taxes to fund the mandates. So the Internal Revenue Service is preparing to expand its powers — something one inside official says it has no business doing — in order to start going after the biggest delinquent fish.

 

  • Another novel way to grab revenue for failing Federal programs: Put “a very tiny tax” on email and give the U.S. Postal Service the money. Jurisdiction, schmurisdiction. At least the idea hasn’t (yet) been circulated beyond the California city where a council member thought it up.

 

  • Watching the watchers: The Transportation Security Administration let an undercover inspector walk right through two airport screening checkpoints in New Jersey last month. He had a “bomb” down his pants that the pat-down fellas failed to catch.

 

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

 

Sign The White House Petition To Support Rand Paul On Drone Strikes — But First, Tell Them Who You Are

A new petition went up Wednesday on “We The People,” the White House website created by President Barack Obama as an ostensible direct conduit between individual Americans and the Oval Office.

The petition is a challenge to the President, requesting an answer to Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) call for clarity on whether the Commander In Chief can authorize drone strikes against U.S. citizens, without due process, on U.S. soil.

The petition has a goal of 100,000 signatures. As of Thursday afternoon, it had a long way to go.

One of the staffers here at Personal Liberty went to the page, intending to sign the petition, but was stopped dead in his tracks when he realized he’d first have to create a whitehouse.gov account and fill out an online form requiring his full name and a valid email address (with an optional field for ZIP code).

That’s a standing requirement; one that isn’t unique to the Paul petition. Some (certainly not all) petitioners may find that step innocuous enough, if they’re visiting the site to sign a petition calling for an end to Daylight Savings Time.

But there’s irony in requiring a handover even of basic personal information — information that offers a reasonable chance of revealing to the Executive Branch the way in which your identity and your views on public policy entwine — when the very topic under discussion essentially seeks an assurance from the President that he won’t violate the Constitution and have you killed.

Since its September 2011 launch, We The People has twice raised the 30-day signature threshold needed before the White House would acknowledge or respond to a petition. The threshold originally stood at 5,000 signatures but was raised to 25,000 within a month of launching. It was raised to 100,000 in January.

The Obama Administration, through Attorney General Eric Holder, did respond to Senator Paul Thursday in a snarky two-sentence letter, assuring him that “no,” the President doesn’t have “authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.” But at the time of this writing, the petition remained active.

A Porn-Free Europe? The EU Is Considering It

A Swedish member of the European Parliament blogged Wednesday that he’d be voting against a resolution that would call on 27 countries to legislate a ban on pornography across all media in the European Union.

The proposed resolution, the “Report on Eliminating Gender Stereotypes in the EU,” notes the pervasiveness of pornography throughout much of European commercial culture and “[c]alls on the EU and its Member States to take concrete action” to begin enforcing a 1997 resolution that would place a “ban on all forms of pornography in the media and on the advertising of sex tourism.”

According to the proposal, the ban is necessary to protect both men and women from comfortably associating European women with social roles that are defined primarily by sex. It makes several presumptions about the extent to which that’s happening in its long laundry list of qualifiers:

…[w]hereas young women and men are most affected by pornography’s new cultural status; whereas the ‘mainstreaming of pornography’, i.e. the current cultural process whereby pornography is slipping into our everyday lives as an evermore universally accepted, often idealised, cultural element, manifests itself particularly clearly within youth culture: from teenage television and lifestyle magazines to music videos and commercials targeted at the young…

And so on.

Christian Engstrom, the Swedish delegate who’s among a handful opposed to the resolution, expects that it will pass when voted on next week. Even if it does, the resolution is a first-step “own initiative report” and won’t automatically become law across the EU. Rather, it paves the way for the parliament to develop a more technical, crafted piece of legislation at a later date — or, perhaps, to do nothing.

Engstrom explains:

[T]he purpose of these own initiative reports are [sic] to serve as the basis for the Commission when it decides to present legislative proposals to the parliament. If this own initiative report is adopted by the parliament, it will strengthen the Commission’s position if and when it wants to propose various ”self-regulation” schemes in the future.

Although I completely agree that eliminating outdated gender stereotypes in the EU is a worthwhile goal, I will be voting against this resolution next week.

We see the threat our current gun-grabbing President and Congressional leaders are mounting to the 2nd Amendment. The next time 1st Amendment issues flare up into a National controversy, whether porn or some other so-called gray area of “free speech” is at issue, will our elected leaders in Congress and the White House use the moment as an opportunity to further legislate the Bill of Rights into irrelevance?

Rand Paul’s Filibuster, Preserved For Posterity

Still can’t get enough Rand Paul (R-Ky.)?

An hour-by-hour transcript of all 13 hours of the Senator’s epic filibuster Wednesday is now available at his website’s press release page.

The unaffiliated Daily Paul website also links to the transcript, in an easier-to-access list. Each link includes both the text and video of the filibuster, which Paul himself described Thursday afternoon as evincing a “major victory for American civil liberties.”

Perhaps Paul’s filibuster will start a movement among young libertarians; perhaps some erudite young scholars are already studying every word, culling salient statements of principle for codification into an abridged version. Watching the filibuster unfold in real time lent that sort of historic, “something’s happening here” kind of feel to the proceedings.

Then again, maybe it will all be forgotten amid tomorrow’s tangle of headline-grabbing fights, gaffes and grandstanding on Capitol Hill.

If so, at least The Atlantic has already codified the filibuster’s high points into Cliff’s Notes — you know, for posterity.

 

 

Rand Masterstroke Moves Even Liberals To Damn Obama Drones; Al Gore And Al-Jazeera — A Sour Deal; Iowa School Plays Into President’s Sequestration Snare; North Korea Plans ‘Pre-emptive Nuclear Attack’ On America; IF The Superbug Doesn’t Get Us First: Thursday Morning News Roundup 3-7-2013

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

  • Rand Paul’s well-played filibuster Wednesday drew kudos from The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart and had liberal actor John Cusack calling on Democrats to stand with the Republican Senator against President “regressive corporate warlord” Barack Obama.

 

  • Al Gore. Al-Jazeera. All kinds of screwed up. Gore faces a $5 million lawsuit after selling his half-billion-dollar TV network to Al-Jazeera, then allegedly leaving a key player with his pockets inside out.

 

  • More sequester PR hijinks: Iowa kids make the Internet rounds with a heart-wrenching plea to the President to not cancel their White House tour. These are the moments Obama has longed for since sequestration started. Boo hoo.

 

  • North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un is pledging a nuclear attack on the United States — a pre-emptive one. Is there really such a thing? North Korea recently tested an underground nuke and caused an earthquake.

 

  • No fear — if the hermit kingdom doesn’t kill us, the superbugs will. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that new “untreatable” bacteria are spreading in the United States at an accelerated rate. Not much advice, though — just malaise.

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

Sequester Email: ‘Make Sure You Are Not Contradicting What We Said The Impact Would Be’

An administrator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) was cautioned by superiors this week not to distribute reduced funding from last week’s sequestration spending cuts in a way that mitigates the measure’s supposedly dire effects.

The Washington Times reports that Charles Brown, APHIS eastern regional director of wildlife services, instead was told, in so many words, to bring the pain.

According to the report, an internal email exchange between Brown and the APHIS Budget and Program Analysis office (BPAS) began when Brown asked whether he could equitably distribute sequester-mandated spending cuts throughout his region in order to ensure none of the programs under his administration would experience any undue operating hardships.

He was advised not to do anything that would make the White House’s predictions about the harmful effects of sequestration look foolish:

“We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that ‘APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 states in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.’ So it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.”

Senator Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) coaxed some backtracking out of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack when she grilled him Tuesday about the email and its sinister implications:
 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wzST-BBtQs&w=420&h=315]
 

And so the Administration of President Barack Obama continues its casting about for high-profile illustrations of how badly sequestration hurts regular people — even if it has to manufacture them. CBS News notes three instances in the past 10 days of White House officials putting their foots in their mouths (i.e., lying) when pressed to describe how not spending Federal money as quickly as Obama wishes translates into real moments of doom and gloom.

Nevertheless, a poll CBS released Monday revealed that 53 percent of Americans who responded feel the sequestration cuts will affect them personally. To the Obama Administration’s undoubted relief, most of them blame Congressional Republicans’ intransigence in agreeing to a deficit-reduction package.

Proof: Obama’s Always Wanted To Grab Your Guns

A former academic peer occasionally used to talk public policy with President Barack Obama, back when the two were faculty members at the University of Chicago in the mid-1990s.

Now he writes books about the President’s cataclysmic foreign, economic and social policies, reflecting what he says is a more-populist evolution of deeply liberal views Obama held, with more extremity and conviction, before Oprah Winfrey ever introduced him on a national stage.

In At The Brink, John Lott Jr.’s new book, the President’s former colleague reveals how quickly his efforts to engage Obama in genial academic discussion about their differing 2nd Amendment views were always dismissed — with prejudice.

CNS News reports that Lott, who’s used his publishing career to assiduously carry the flag for the protection of Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights, was flatly rejected when he asked Obama to swap ideas on the topic over lunch.

Obama reportedly “grimaced and turned away,” a typical response coming from a man Lott said “preferred silent, scowling disdain to collegiality.”

One day, Obama told Lott, “I don’t believe people should be able to own guns.”

There it is, short and sweet.

As Commander in Chief, clearly the President does believe that governments should be allowed to own guns. He certainly has some experience in instructing agents of our government to use some pretty big ones.

The CNS report breaks down a segment of Lott’s book that tracks Obama’s on-record gun control stance over the years:

  • In 1996, Obama supported a ban on handguns
  • In 1998, he supported a ban on the sale of all semi-automatic guns
  • In 2004, he advocated banning gun sales within five miles of a school or park, which would have shut down nearly all gun stores

Lott also noted the President could exert greater long-term influence over 2nd Amendment policy though his power to appoint Supreme Court justices who make free with revisionist interpretations of the Bill of Rights.

“The greatest threat is in his power to reshape the federal courts,” he writes. “Each appointment to the Supreme Court could determine whether the people are allowed to keep their guns.”

Trending: Don’t Get Mad, But You Could Need Anger Management To Buy Bullets In Florida

If a Florida State Senator gets her way, residents will need to prove they’ve conquered an anger management class every decade before the State will allow them to buy bullets from stores.

The Florida Times-Union is reporting a bill filed over the weekend by Senator Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) would make it a second-degree felony to purchase ammo without having completed a two-hour anger management course every 10 years.

The bill would also force residents to sit out a three-day waiting period before buying a handgun.

Gibson said the proposed law “encourages introspection before purchasing ammunition.”

No word on whether the Senator did any soul-searching before writing a bill that could make felons out of thousands of current law-abiding gun owners.

The Left Cries For Chavez, Feds Take A Snow Day, NY Senator Says Congress Should Be 51 Percent Female, Sequestration Won’t Slow Obamacare Juggernaut, NYSE Says ‘What Sequester?!’: Wednesday Morning News Roundup 3-6-2013

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.

  • Jimmy Carter, Michael Moore, Sean Penn and Oliver Stone: the Left Isn’t taking the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez well. Shocker.
  • Not a shocker: Real Venezuelans in the U.S. exclaim, “He’s gone!”
  • Possibly the best thing to happen in Washington since 2008? Weather puts a temporary halt to the madness in D.C. today.
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) knows how to fix Congress: Let its demographics favor women.
  • The Sequestration isn’t about to slow the implementation of Obamacare — or hamstring the Federal government’s resources (read: Internal Revenue Service) to collect your money.
  • Last week: sequestration. This week: record day on Wall Street. Investors knew from the start sequestration is “a distraction” that has “no impact other than on the microphones in Washington.” Meanwhile, bashful White House Democrats “don’t comment on markets.”

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

Airports Refute Big Sister’s Claim Of Long Delays Following Sequester

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told interviewers at a POLITICO event Monday that the onset of sequestration made for a rough weekend at airport security checkpoints nationwide.

Napolitano told interviewers at a breakfast celebrating the anniversary of the DHS that security lines at airport Transportation Security Administration checkpoints were “150 to 200 percent as long as we would normally expect” over the first weekend of sequestration.

“Now that we are having to reduce or eliminate basically overtime both for TSA and for customs; now that we have instituted a hiring freeze… we will begin today sending out furlough notices,” she said. “We are already seeing the effects at some of the ports of entry; some of the big airports, for example. Some of them had very long lines this weekend.”

The off-camera interviewer cut in quickly: “Specifically where?”

“I wanna say O’Hare; I wanna say LAX; ahm, I want to say Atlanta but I’d have to check. The New York airports got through OK, but that is gonna be temporary, so we will see these effects cascade over the next week.”

The Daily Telegraph got hold of Napolitano’s comments and called security chiefs at the airports she mentioned.

A Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) spokesman who worked through the weekend said there hadn’t been “any slowdowns at all.”

The director of media relations at Chicago’s O’Hare said there had been “no unusual delays or cancellations” and that the weekend’s lines had been “normal.”

The spokesman for Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta went into refutation overkill, saying: “There have been no abnormally long lines at the security checkpoint nor unusual aircraft delays at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as a result of sequestration.”

The Telegraph also checked with travel industry representatives to see if anecdotes from actual travelers would uncover information the airport representatives had overlooked. They got the same story.

“I can only tell you what we’ve heard from our members, which is they have not seen any abnormal delays,” said a spokeswoman for airline industry trade group Airlines for America.

“We’re on a mailing list for LAX that tells us whether there are any security delays and we have meet-and-greet people at the airport who tell us if there are any delays and at the moment we haven’t heard anything,” offered a Los Angeles-based travel agent.

Obama Administration Reportedly Draconian And Vile In Efforts To Work The Press

More White House reporters have begun filing through the crack opened by Watergate reporting icon Bob Woodward, who last week claimed he had been threatened by a White House adviser for publishing an unfavorable opinion of the President’s handling of the sequestration fiasco.

Perhaps emboldened by Woodward’s revelation, less-famous White House correspondents have begun relating anecdotes alleging the Administration of President Barack Obama has verbally abused, bullied, retaliated, spoon-fed and marginalized them in a way the press hasn’t experienced under any other President.

In a searing New York Post story this week, a number of Washington reporters — some named, others anonymous — reveal how the Administration has pressured them to report or not report the news; how it has attempted to influence reporters’ judgment in determining whether a topic should be covered; and how, when things don’t go Obama’s way in the press, there are consequences.

One longtime Washington journalist related how he’d assigned a young reporter to cover an Obama cabinet secretary. The reporter was asking “tough, important” questions and got the bully treatment for doing her job.

“…[T]hey were trying to bully her. In an email, they called her the vilest names – bitch, c—t, a—hole.”

After getting the runaround from the email’s author, the senior reporter confronted that person, saying: “From now on, every email you send this reporter will be on the record, and you will be speaking on behalf of the President of the United States.”

Good for him. But that account hints at an underlying problem with the way the press has always dealt with the Obama Administration — or, rather, how it’s allowed the Obama Administration to deal with it. Those emails could have been on the record without that reporter having to make it plain. The author of those emails was already speaking on behalf of the President of the United States. The White House press has handled this President with kid gloves, and, like any classic relationship based on disingenuous and insincere motives, it’s reaping abuse for the service.

And in the Internet Age, the White House is often finding it easier to control its own media through press releases, tweets and Facebook postings than to float information before reporters who can talk back. As a February piece in Vanity Fair explains, it’s essentially a form of state-controlled media:

In a real sense, the most powerful and pervasive news outlet “covering” the White House is the White House itself. That is a legitimate cause for concern. No American wants to live in a world of state television or sanitized photo handouts.

The press corps has been primed since 2008 to remain pliable to the wishes of an Administration it’s wanted to admire, an Administration that issues press releases through social media while dodging questions from the press. It’s hard to say which side deserves more what it’s getting; but Americans who’ve been getting their political news from TV, radio and boilerplate print media are still the biggest losers.

Chavez’ Successor TBD By Elections

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died Tuesday, left behind a nation that holds one of the world’s largest known reserves of oil.

His successor, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, announced his death on Venezuelan television – likely to many poor Venezuelans accustomed to receiving various subsidies from the redistribution of wealth from the country’s nationalized oil industry.

And, though Chavez helped prime Maduro as his eventual successor, it’s not clear whether circumstances in Venezuela will afford him that opportunity.

Venezuela’s constitution requires that an election be held to replace Chavez within 30 days. Maduro isn’t the only likely candidate; National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, who heads the country’s military, may also seek the office. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, whom Chavez defeated in the 2012 elections, could also run again.

A February poll conducted by Reuters placed Maduro in front of Caprilles in a hypothetical election. Cabello was not included in the polling.

Farrakhan Says White Americans Using Birth Control To Outnumber Blacks

At times, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan can sound like something of a social engineer.

Last month, he encouraged gang members to learn military tactics and then go serve as resident security guards for rural property the Nation of Islam is buying in Georgia.

In a Michigan speech over the weekend, he criticized white Americans for manipulating society in the hope of continuing as the Nation’s majority racial demographic.

How? Birth control for black women. Apparently, black women knew nothing of birth control until whites decided it was time to introduce it to them, “because they don’t want no more black babies.” By his calculation, blacks will outnumber whites in the United States by 2050, in part because the Nation of Islam plans to revolutionize the role blacks play in American society.

Farrakhan said black people face a defeatist culture in American public schools and universities, one that conditions them only to remain malleable and expendable to what he characterized as the white-controlled status quo.

“Do you think they are really educating and training you to do something with yourself, or are they training you to be subservient?” he admonished.

Like any good ideologue, not all of Farrakhan’s remarks were inflammatory, nor aimed at easy targets. He continued his ongoing general criticism of black Americans for making what he said are bad choices with their diets, relationships and spending habits.

He followed up those exhortations with tweets Sunday urging black people to consider farming their own land as a starting point for economic self-sufficiency.

Biden Regrets Not Being In Selma; Holder Says South Still Needs Voter Law Oversight

Flanked by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (as well as a few people who actually don’t use racial conflict for personal gain) Vice President Joe Biden told Southerners he felt guilty for not having been a part of the original Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marches almost 50 years ago.

Biden was in Selma, Ala., Sunday, visiting the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 48th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” police attacks, which helped draw national attention to institutional racism in the South during the late 1960s.

“I regret — and although it’s not a part of what I’m supposed to say — I apologize it took me 48 years to get here… I should have been here,” said a contrite Biden.

This year’s Bloody Sunday anniversary came only a week after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on both sides of a challenge to eliminate a portion of the Voting Rights Act, a piece of civil rights-era legislation that has tasked nine States (seven in the South) with seeking permission from the U.S. Department of Justice anytime their legislatures take up voter redistricting or similar electoral changes.

The Act, including the nine-State “preclearance” provision, was most recently reaffirmed by Congress in 2006. Except for a few individual counties named in the Act, the other 41 racism-free states can change their elections laws without permission from the DOJ.

Biden kept his comments on target, and he never condescended to present-day Southerners by indicating racism is endemic to only one part of the Nation. Neither did he use the occasion to overtly promote any current White House policy agenda.

But U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who also made the trip, did just that, drafting a speech with a not-so-subtle message from the Administration of President Barack Obama that the Supreme Court shouldn’t strike down the preclearance requirement:

“Let me be clear:  although our nation has indeed changed, although the South is far different now, and although progress has indeed been made, we are not yet at the point where the most vital part of the Voting Rights Act can be deemed unnecessary. The struggle for voting rights for all Americans must continue – and it will.”

Holder’s remarks pleased Jackson, who later said a Voting Rights Act requiring the same electoral diligence from all 50 States would be “terribly damaging to democracy,” and that a Supreme Court ruling invalidating the preclearance requirement would amount to a “judicial scheme” that once again invites racist gerrymandering in the South.

Wealthiest Americans Pay More Tax Than Ever; Would Pay More Under Obama’s Path Out Of Sequestration

As lawmakers continue to argue about whether wealthy Americans should take on a heavier tax burden, it turns out wealthy families are already paying the highest tax bills in three decades — even as the rest of the Nation continues to pay historically low rates.

A new analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a research arm of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution , reveals average taxes for wealthy families are higher now than at any time since the Congressional Budget Office began crunching the numbers in 1979. Families from middle and low-income brackets are paying less in Federal taxes than in the past.

According to an Associated Press breakdown of the data, if you’re among the top 20 percent of income earners, you’re in a group that will average 27.2 percent in Federal tax this year. If you earn $1.4 million, you’ll pay an average of 35.5 percent.

Taxes included in the cumulative assessment include income, payroll, corporate and estate taxes.

On the other hand, the bottom 20 percent of income earners will pay no Federal taxes, receiving instead Federal credits that not only zero out all their tax liability, but in fact give them a “negative” tax rate.

The report comes as Congressional Republicans continue fighting Democratic proposals to raise Federal revenues through a package of tax rate increases that affect the highest-earning segment of the population.

Read the full AP story here.

Asian Billionaires Now Outnumber Those In North America

Chinese luxe finance magazine The Hurun Report revealed last week that more billionaires hail from Asia than from North America, a first since the publication was founded in 1999.

In Asia, 608 individuals have a net worth in excess of $1 billion (all figures are adjusted to U.S. dollars), followed by North America with 440 and Europe with 324.

The U.S. still has more billionaires — 409 — than any other country, followed distantly by China, whose 317 billionaires make up just more than half of all those throughout Asia. But Asia’s diverse and burgeoning economies have produced more newly rich individuals, nearly all of whom have made their own fortunes.

That’s a contrast with Europe — where a disproportionate amount of billionaires’ wealth is generational and inherited — and with North America, whose billionaires have found varying paths to fortune.

All of China’s billionaires have become wealthy in their own lifetimes through real estate transactions. Noting the trend reflects “the [Chinese] urbanization boom of the last generation,” Hurun reports seven of the world’s top 10 real estate billionaires reside either in Hong Kong or in China.

With 76 billionaires (every one of them self-made), Moscow is home to more than any other world city, including second-place New York, which has 70. Like the rest of Asia, a significant portion of Russia’s wealthiest residents have ties to real estate, along with manufacturing and energy.

Most European billionaires are either majority owners of industrial or retail concerns, or scions of luxury fashion brands: Louis Vuitton, Hermes, BMW and Patek Philippe, to sample a (very) few. Of the 31 billionaires worldwide whose wealth was made in luxury goods, only seven reside outside Europe. Two more brands — DeBeers and Cartier, both South African — deliver diamonds, a “luxury commodity” with close ties to the European luxury market. A third, the OCTEA mining group, is based in Israel.

Americans who top the list generated their money primarily through investments; technology, media and telecommunications; and the retail market. Berkshire Hathaway primary shareholder Warren Buffett remained the richest man in the United States (second worldwide), followed by Microsoft’s Bill Gates (fourth worldwide).

Mexican investor and diversified shareholder Carlos Slim remained the richest man in the world, with a personal fortune worth an estimated $66 billion.

The United States remains atop the billionaire list in another aspect: combined wealth. The 409 American billionaires on the Hurun list retain a total net worth of $1.712 trillion. Hurun did not disclose a researched figure for the combined wealth of billionaires in second-place China.

Chinese ambition fuels the publication’s interest in compiling the list, with Hurun Report Chairman and founder Rupert Hoogewerf noting that “China’s entrepreneurs want to see the global context of their recent success. This is why Hurun Report, a media headquartered in Shanghai, China, has set out on this quest to track down and rank the world’s billionaires.”

Interestingly, the publication freely admits it hasn’t succeeded in enumerating every billionaire worldwide, with Hoogewerf estimating there may be twice as many as were listed in this year’s Hurun Report list.

View the complete list as well as supporting statistics and billionaire demographics here.