First Recall; Now Repeal: Colorado 2nd Amendment Groups Aim For Overturn Of Gun Laws

Backers of the successful recall of two Colorado State Senators are pledging to continue fighting for the repeal of the same gun control laws that led to the two Senators’ ouster, following their support of the anti-2nd Amendment legislation earlier this year.

On Breitbart’s Sirius XM radio broadcast Sunday, Jennifer Kerns of Basic Freedom Defense Fund (BFDF) – a Colorado nonprofit established earlier this year in response to the State Legislature’s “appalling act of government overreach” – said the group is only halfway done with the task of remedying a Constitutional infringement perpetrated by elected officials.

“We won and now we want more,” she said, adding that the recall effort’s grassroots success will, hopefully, keep the pressure on the State legislature to overturn the pair of new laws, which have been on the books since July.

One of those laws restricts the size of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds; the other expands background checks to include private sales, as well as firearms sales done online. Sheriffs from 54 of the State’s 64 counties have filed a lawsuit, alleging that the laws are unConstitutional.

In a joint press release Friday, BFDF and Pueblo Freedom and Rights, a “grassroots issues committee,” announced the repeal movement “will not be going away silently into the night,” calling on all State legislators to respond to a survey sent by BFDF last week:

In an effort to understand where State legislators stand on Colorado’s new gun laws, we are writing to ask your position on key issues. As you are likely aware, we recently succeeded in the first successful recall of not one, but two, State officials in Colorado history.

As we consider our next endeavors, we wish to know where every legislator stands on a repeal of Colorado’s unlawful new gun restrictions.

Please take a moment to answer this simple, 2-question survey:

Will you vote for a repeal of Colorado’s new gun laws if given the opportunity in the 2014 legislative session? ___ YES or ___ NO

Would you support a Ballot Initiative that would repeal Colorado’s gun laws? ___ YES or ___ NO

“While we consider Tuesday’s election a significant victory, we realize that these egregious gun laws remain and we want to know where each and every Colorado State legislator stands on them,” said Kerns in the statement. “It is a new day in Colorado and constituents expect their legislators to represent the will of the people. No one is immune from the reach of the grassroots efforts which powered these two recall elections.”

In addition, the two groups sent the same survey to every announced candidate planning to run for a State office in 2014. The responses will be made public Oct. 1.

Colorado voters recalled two Democratic state Senators – Angela Giron and Senate President John Morse – last week in a special election that liberals outside the State claim was unfairly weighted in favor of 2nd Amendment advocates – because mail-in ballots were not allowed.

SWAT-Style EPA Raid In Alaska Shines A Light On Federal Agencies With Arrest Power

After EPA agents in tactical gear swarmed a mining operation in the tiny Alaskan outpost of Chicken last week, the State’s governor blasted the Feds, calling the raid an “absolutely unacceptable” example of government resorting to intimidation tactics to enforce something as nonviolent an (alleged) offense as the Clean Water Act.

Now, a new analysis of government data reveals the EPA is only one of dozens of Federal agencies that have self-contained armed divisions.

Looking past the DEA, FBI and, since 2002, the DHS, there are about 12,000 full-time Federal officers across 40 agencies who can carry firearms and arrest suspects, according to a Fox News analysis of a Justice Department report. Of those, at least a dozen agencies aren’t concerned at all with law enforcement, but nonetheless retain enforcement officers with guns.

“Though most Americans know agents within the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons carry guns, agencies such as the Library of Congress and Federal Reserve Board employing armed officers might come as a surprise,” the Fox report states:

The number of federal department [sic] with armed personnel climbs to 73 when adding in the 33 offices of inspector general, the government watchdogs for agencies as large as the Postal Service to the Government Printing Office, whose IG has only five full-time officers.

The late-August raid on Chicken, a small gold mining town near the State’s eastern border, involved officers from the EPA, FBI, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Coast Guard, NOAA and the U.S. Park Service. The Federal agents were allegedly acting in concert with the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force, but the State’s Congressional delegation, as well as the State police, weren’t buying it.

“Their explanation – that there are concerns within the area of rampant drug trafficking and human trafficking going on – sounds wholly concocted to me,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)… This seems to have been a heavy-handed, and heavy-armor approach. Why was it so confrontational? The EPA really didn’t have any good answers for this.”

Chicken is a tiny place, with nothing resembling a block-grid infrastructure. Lying near the State’s Eastern border with Canada, it has a current population of seven. The only year-round access to the town is via a small local airstrip.

An Alaska State Trooper spokesperson also told the Alaska Dispatch that the State police had not advised the EPA of any “dangerous drug activity” in the area. “We do not have evidence to suggest that is occurring,” said Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters.

State Department Employees Hold Private Benghazi Memorial After No Official Event Scheduled

A small group of State Department staffers held their own private memorial ceremony last week to mark the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. With no official ceremony planned, it was the least they could do.

According to political news site Talking Points Memo, the private memorial ceremony came together after employees realized the agency wouldn’t be organizing a formal commemoration of the tragedy, which took the lives of four Americans – including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

“A State Department staffer who worked with Stevens in Libya and asked not to be named told TPM there were about 20 to 25 staffers at the memorial,” TPM’s Hunter Walker wrote. “The informal gathering was put together after staffers inquired and learned the department would not be holding an official event to mark the anniversary.”

State Department employees were among recipients last week of a widely-distributed internal email, sent by Secretary of State John Kerry, with the heading “Remembering September 11.” That email allegedly referenced both the commercial airplane hijackings and the Benghazi attacks.

But one recipient involved in holding the private memorial said no one in the chain of command offered an explanation for why a formal, organized event had not been planned.

“It was very meaningful — we hugged, told stories, laughed, cried. Someone put flowers by the wall, we stood awkwardly, then we went back to work,” the anonymous State Department source told TPM.

Nanny State: Pittsburgh Residents Face Fines For Parking In Their Own Driveways

Pittsburgh zoning enforcers evidently have decided to begin applying a half century-old law in a way its authors probably never intended, angering residents who now face the prospect of being fined for parking in their own driveways, on their own property.

Under an old local ordinance designed to prevent homeowners from turning their front yards into block party-style parking lots, longtime homeowners who’ve never heard a peep from local officials are wondering why they’re the targets of the sudden enforcement effort, and why the law even exists at all.

The so-called “30-foot law” stipulates that cars can’t be parked within 30 feet of the street. Well, they can — but their owners must first apply to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Building Inspection to receive a zoning variance and occupancy permit. That costs $225. Those who don’t get the permit can be fined up to $1,000 per vehicle.

According to CBS Pittsburgh, one 18-year resident of an area known as Squirrel Hill received a warning letter. Another family had to shell out $2,400 in fines and fees. To avoid transgressing the law, a pregnant mother of seven is having to park her van in a narrow area between her home and her neighbors’ house, and she’s having to exit her vehicle from the passenger’s side door.

In all, about two dozen homeowners have been cited under the dumb law so far.

On Friday, columnist Eric Heyl wrote a scathing, sarcastic indictment of the city’s mystifying turn toward regulatory bureaucracy for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, revealing a pent-up frustration with city leaders for holding residents to a standard they make no effort to apply to themselves:

U.S. Census Bureau statistics released in May showed the number of city residents rose in the past year by a staggering 152. Buoyed by those numbers, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s top administrators must have convened a meeting to discuss maintaining the impressive momentum.

The conversation likely went something like this:

“Fellas, if we want even more people to move here, we have to give them something they can’t get if they reside in the tony communities of Cranberry, Mt. Lebanon or Monroeville. Anyone have any ideas? John?”

“Well … this is just a thought. But what if we begin enforcing an obscure, antiquated city ordinance that prevents people from parking in their own driveway?”

“Perfect! They certainly don’t do that in the suburbs!”

… The driveway ordinance enforcement comes after city officials recently tested another inventive plan to attract new residents with an offering the suburbs don’t supply. After street sweepers failed to show in the South Side for nearly three months, about 250 vehicles in the neighborhood were ticketed for being illegally parked on street sweeping day.

(The city ultimately relented and forgave about $14,000 in fines. But only after the realization that were the fines not erased, the sweeper had a very real chance of being firebombed on its next infrequent South Side appearance.)

Not everyone in local government is staying aloof from the people to whom they’re accountable, though. After learning about the building inspection bureau’s newfound zeal for enforcement, city council member Corey O’Connor is pushing his colleagues to have the ordinance changed. “This could happen tomorrow to any resident in Pittsburgh,” O’Connor said of the steep fines.

O’Connor said the city’s Kafkaesque application of the law has created a “pretty ridiculous problem” that doesn’t even allow residents a sensible means of complying. “If you’re a couple of feet into your own driveway, there shouldn’t be a problem,” he said. But that’s only if you have the $225 occupancy permit. “The funny thing is,” he said, “we don’t tell you [that you] need an occupancy permit.”

Will He Or Won’t He? John McCain, 77, Ambivalent On Whether He’ll Seek 6th Senate Term

Saying he doesn’t want to end up as “one of those old guys that should’ve shoved off,” Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) told Hollywood industry website The Wrap last week that his current term might be his last.

That caused a minor sensation on the Internet. Jaded conservatives weary of McCain’s cross-party liberalism took to political blogs to commemorate the news with comments that were equal parts jubilant and vindictive.

So McCain, currently serving his fifth Senate term, got back out on Twitter to clear things up.

 

The Wrap’s Tim Molloy had overheard McCain’s “last term” comment in a moment of candor while interviewing the Senator at a launch party for — wait for it — Pivot TV, a new network featuring daughter Meghan in a show called “Raising McCain,” an “investigative series.”

While talking with McCain (the Senator) about whether there’ll ever be a place in this world for a la carte cable pricing, Molloy paused as McCain greeted two well-wishers who doted on him for his support of President Barack Obama. From Molloy’s interview transcript (the interviewer’s words are in bold):

What about the idea that a show like a “Breaking Bad” or a “Mad Men” would never exist without bundling?

I think they would exist. I think that, look at [shows] now that are strictly over the internet.

[At this point two supporters of President Obama cut in to thank McCain for being on "our president's side for once in your life." McCain tells them, "The president and I, he's in his last term, I'm probably in mine, the relationship we have had over the past three years is quite good. Quite good."]

Is this really your last term?

Nah, I don’t know. I was trying to make a point. I have to decide in about two years so I don’t have to make a decision. I don’t want to be one of these old guys that should’ve shoved off.

I had a conversation the other day with Barry Diller. And his whole point is, technology is going to overtake all of us. When young people are… not watching television, but gettin’ their information, their entertainment and their news through other means, then there’s bound to be this kind of — you can’t restrict it to just cable. So it’s changing and it continues to change and that’s a good thing.

Clearly, Molloy caught McCain off his pleasant “banter-about-the-television-business” script when he made the smart, instantaneous decision to take ownership of something he’d overheard as a third party and question McCain about it directly. It’s interesting that McCain’s on-record response lacked the candor of his comments to the Obama supporters.

But at this stage in his career in politics, who really knows what John McCain is thinking?

FISA Court Puts Government On Timeline To Declassify Past NSA Spy Authorizations

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) – the secretive court whose purpose is to hear one-sided requests from Federal law enforcement to conduct undisclosed spy operations against Americans and foreigners – ordered the government Friday to make a case for why its cloak-and-dagger operations shouldn’t be declassified.

Giving the government until Oct. 4 to pick and choose examples of past FISC cases that demonstrate why Section 215 of the Patriot Act forms a Constitutional basis to keep dragnet surveillance on citizens a secret, the court essentially placed the burden of proof back on the government – something the court has rarely done in all its years of rubber-stamping the Feds’ warrant requests.

The ruling comes on a motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Access Information Clinic. Section 215 of the Patriot Act authorizes the government to obtain “any tangible things” to aid in counterintelligence operations and terror investigations. It’s the part of the Patriot Act most frequently invoked by the Department of Justice in requesting broad and secret search warrants on behalf of the FBI, NSA and other Federal enforcement offices.

“We are pleased that the surveillance court has recognized the importance of transparency to the ongoing public debate about the NSA’s spying,” said Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “For too long, the NSA’s sweeping surveillance of Americans has been shrouded in unjustified secrecy. Today’s ruling is an overdue rebuke of that practice. Secret law has no place in our democracy.”

‘Treason’ And ‘Jail’ Deter Tech Leaders From Sharing NSA Spy Requests With Public

Leaders at several major tech companies, including handlers of social media and Internet services, criticized the U.S. government this week for its ironfisted treatment of companies that repeatedly have requested permission to publicly reveal the scale of the National Security Agency’s court-sanctioned surveillance measures.

Speaking in San Francisco at this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference — a major event that brings together industry innovators and potential investors — Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said the government’s approach to deterrence has been simple.

“Releasing classified information is treason, and you are incarcerated,” said Mayer.

That response came during a public Q&A, when someone asked Mayer why tech companies have been complaining in general terms about the NSA, but won’t release any information that reveals the nature the government’s demands. Yahoo has gone before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in the past, suing in 2007 for permission to publish information about NSA spy requests. But predictably, the government prevailed.

“When you lose and you don’t comply, it’s treason,” Mayer said.

Yahoo and Facebook have filed fresh lawsuits in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, arguing that being muzzled by the NSA — with the entire world watching — isn’t just unConstitutional; it’s killing their business.

“Yahoo has been unable to engage fully in the debate about whether the government has properly used its powers, because the government has placed a prior restraint on Yahoo’s speech,” Yahoo argues in its filing. “Yahoo’s inability to respond to news reports has harmed its reputation and has undermined its business not only in the United States but worldwide. Yahoo cannot respond to such reports with mere generalities.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg resorted to generalities in his public comments at the Disrupt conference, but reinforced the Yahoo CEO’s assertion that the government is hurting American business and eroding faith in U.S. tech, even as it forces companies to keep quiet about its warrantless, illegal surveillance practices. “Frankly, I think the government blew it,” he said.

“The morning after this [Snowden scandal] started breaking, a bunch of people were asking them [the government] what they thought,” he said. “[They said] ‘don’t worry, we’re not spying on any Americans.’”

“Wonderful, that’s really helpful for companies trying to work with people around the world. Thanks for going out there and being clear. I think that was really bad.”

Poverty In America: Cellphones, TVs, Refrigerators And Microwave Ovens

Living below the poverty line in the United States means having just about the same access to creature comforts and basic household necessities as everybody else.

That’s the report from the Census Bureau, which has published new information on living conditions in the United States taken from data collected through 2011.

According to the data, being poor means you’re less likely to have a computer, dishwasher or deep freeze. But it also means you’re about as likely as the snob hill crowd to have a cellphone, air conditioning, television and some kind of DVR device.

According to the report, titled “Extended Measures of Well-Being: Living Conditions in the United States: 2011,” 80.9 percent of people living below the poverty line have cellphones, while 83.4 percent have air conditioning. Television, a necessity of life, is in 96.1 percent of poverty-level households, and 83.2 percent have a “video cassette recorder” or digital television recording device.

In each case, the percentage of people above the poverty line who own these same things isn’t much higher — because it can’t be.

Here are some other percentages that run down the things that poverty-stricken Americans own. The number in parentheses is provided for comparison. That’s the percentage of Americans living above the poverty line who own the same stuff.

  • Refrigerators: 97.8 (99.5)
  • Clothes washers: 68.7 (88.1)
  • Clothes dryers: 65.3 (86.6)
  • Dishwashers: 44.9 (73.5)
  • Food freezers: 26.2 (37.5)
  • Stoves: 96.6 (98.9)
  • Microwaves: 93.2 (97.4)

Maybe “poverty” is a word that talking heads and the American elected class should retire from domestic discourse to be reserved, instead, as a descriptor of how poor people live in the developing world. Poverty across the world is a condition; poverty in America is nearly always a choice.

Republicans In Tempe-Mesa Legislative District Rebuke McCain On Obama Nominations

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been formally rebuked by Arizona Republicans in the State’s 26th Legislative District for helping to green-light several of President Barack Obama’s controversial nominations for key leadership roles at Federal agencies.

The District 26 Republicans approved the wholly symbolic resolution on Tuesday by a 24-13 vote, accusing him of capitulating to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) by “giving him everything he asked for.”

Here’s the full resolution:

McCain rebuke

Colorado Recall Votes Send A Signal To The Elected Class: Representation Matters

On Tuesday, both of the Colorado State Senators who faced a voter recall — a culmination of massive public backlash over their support of new, unConstitutional gun control legislation — lost their jobs.

Senate President John Morse, a Democrat, was ousted by a slim margin, 9,094 to 8,751 (50.9 percent to 49 percent). Fellow Democratic Senator Angela Giron received 19,355 recall votes (56 percent), compared with 15,201 votes (43.9 percent) to retain her.

Democratic leaders (or in Morse’s case, former leaders) quickly demonstrated they’d learned absolutely nothing from the grassroots-bred ouster, going full extrovert in their post-recall public comments. Every factor leading up to the recall’s successful outcome was flawed except the actions of the two Senators themselves; every recall proponent was just a misguided obstructionist fool, upending a well-tuned process that was supposed to empower Morse, the State Legislature and Governor John Hickenlooper to help save people from themselves.

“The loss of this Senate seat is purely symbolic… You’re not judged by how you got knocked down, but rather by how you got back up,” said a very Howard Dean-like Morse in his teeth-clinching, staccato-paced concession speech. “Our last [legislative] session was phenomenal!”

“I’m a little perplexed,” said Giron, as she conceded. “This is what I know: I know that I have not one iota of regret from what I voted on… This is only going to make us stronger and better. We will win in the end, because we are on the right side.”

Then there’s Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who took to the Internet Wednesday to declare the whole recall effort a sham.

Why? Because mail-in ballots hadn’t been allowed for the special election.

“The recall elections in Colorado were defined by the vast array of obstacles that special interests threw in the way of voters for the purpose of reversing the will of the legislature and the people,” offered Wasserman Schultz, taking a page from Barack Obama’s playbook. “This was voter suppression, pure and simple.”

The races drew a lot of money from out of State, both from the National Rifle Association and the gun control lobbying group Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). Most of the ridicule over outside influence, in the aftermath, was targeted at MAIG — a personal endeavor of New York City’s billionaire liberal mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who has a track record of advocating for expanded government controls — rather than the NRA, which has a long history of advocating for the 2nd Amendment rights of individuals.

In late August, Giron herself told New Republic the political stakes were extremely high for Bloomberg, who continues to use MAIG as a funnel for campaign funds in support of gun control-minded liberals in State and Congressional-level races Nationwide.

“For Mayors Against Illegal Guns, if they lose even one of these seats, they might as well fold it up. And they understand that,” she said.

Bloomberg had donated at least $350,000 to the losing side in the Colorado recall.

Recall supporter Laura Carno told CBS Denver that the Morse recall sends a clear signal to elected leaders, both in Colorado and nationwide, with visionary legislative schemes that alienate voters: “It is a message to elected officials: You need to pay attention to what your constituents say — not the Vice President, and not Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York — and that’s who he’s been listening to, and not his constituents.”

Morse will be replaced by Republican Bernie Herpin. George Rivera, also a Republican, will replace Giron. The two swing seats will not affect the Democratic majority in the Colorado Legislature.