RNC Chair To Networks: Axe Hillary Biopics, Or We Won’t Debate On Your Channels For 2016

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is planning to effectively exclude NBC and CNN from hosting the 2016 Presidential primary debates if the two networks go forward with plans to air major productions that commemorate the career of Hillary Clinton.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus released open letters to both networks Monday, claiming the lionizing of an active career politician represents an “in-kind donation” that (further) jeopardizes their journalistic credibility.

The two letters are similar in content, but Priebus amplifies his NBC version with this extra salvo:

There’s ample cause for concern. Executives and employees of Comcast, NBC’s parent company, have been generous supporters of Democrats and Secretary Clinton. David Cohen, Comcast’s EVP, raised over $1.4 million from President Obama’s reelection efforts and hosted a fundraiser for the president. Comcast Corp. employees have donated $522,996 to the president and donated $161,640 to Secretary Clinton’s previous campaigns.

Your company has expressly stated that your choice to air the miniseries in the near future would avoid concerns of running afoul of equal time election laws. This suggests a deliberate attempt at influencing American political opinion in favor of a preferred candidate, not to mention a guilty conscience.

…I find this disturbing and disappointing. NBC cannot purport to be a neutral party in American politics, and the credibility of NBC News, already damaged by the partisanship of MSNBC, will be further undermined by the actions of NBC Universal executives who have taken it upon themselves to produce an extended commercial for Secretary Clinton’s nascent campaign.

NBC has announced it will cast Diane Lane in a miniseries portraying Clinton; CNN has a feature-length Clinton documentary in the works. Clinton herself has remained coy about her 2016 ambitions, though it’s easy to envision a scenario in which she could time her campaign announcements to capitalize on the airing of a national television event in her honor.

Priebus gave the two networks until Aug. 14 to pull the Clinton shows, pledging to call for a binding vote at the RNC’s summer meeting late next week to “neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates with your sponsor.”

Army Loyal To Contractors With Al-Qaida Ties As Embassies Close In Fear Of Al-Qaida

Amid news that 19 U.S. embassies were being shuttered this week, thanks to an alert that Al-Qaida may be mobilizing an attack, comes a report to Congress from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction that condemns the U.S. Army for refusing to drop contracts with people and companies that have been linked to the Al-Qaida supply chain.

Special Inspector General John Sopko said in his report that, despite his recommendation that the Army cut ties with at least 43 contractors – “including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda” – the Army refused in every case.

From the report:

…[C]ontract oversight must become a top priority to policy planners or else we will repeat the mistakes of the past and waste taxpayer money.

…The Army Suspension and Debarment Office appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due process rights if based on classified information or if based on findings by the Department of Commerce.

I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract. I feel such a position is not only legally wrong, it is contrary to good public policy and contrary to our national security goals in Afghanistan. I continue to urge you to change this faulty policy and enforce the rule of common sense in the Army’s suspension and debarment program.

In other words, Sopko has a fundamental problem with the Army going after terrorists while simultaneously propping them up with remunerative contracts for goods and services. So why doesn’t the government?

Fox News reported Monday that Congress has responded to the report by introducing a bill that would restrict U.S. agencies from handing out contracts to companies that support extremists in Afghanistan. The bill also seeks to give the Inspector General the power to suspend such contracts if they fail to meet that requirement.

How National Review Journalist Jillian Melchior Got Three Obamaphones

National Review Franklin Fellow Jillian Kay Melchior published a piece last week detailing how she, a comfortably affluent New Yorker with a white collar job, was able to qualify for three free government-paid cell phones through the Lifeline program – a public service established in the pre-cell phone Reagan era to ensure impoverished or geographically-isolated people could call 911 in the event of emergencies.

Like every other government subsidy President Barack Obama inherited from previous administrations, the Lifeline program has exploded into an entitlement bazaar. “Obamaphones” aren’t supposed to be available to people who don’t qualify for at least one other government welfare subsidy (such as Food Stamps), and they’re limited, in principle at least, to one phone per recipient.

But Melchior explained to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren how, through the abuses of privatized implementation and the ever-sinking welfare threshold under Obama, she was able to receive three Obamaphones – two from the same provider.

Surveillance Monday! FBI Eavesdrops; DOJ Wants iTunes; DEA Dishes Data To LEOs; Obamacare’s Cadillac Tax; Late Night Laughs At Dems – Monday Morning News Roundup 8-5-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

 

  • CNET has learned the FBI has developed custom “port reader” software to intercept Internet metadata in real time. And, in some cases, it wants to force Internet providers to use the software. The government is quietly pressuring telecommunications providers to install the eavesdropping technology deep inside companies’ internal networks to facilitate surveillance efforts. Source: CNET…

 

  • After winning last month an e-books antitrust suit against Apple, the Justice Department on Friday asked a Federal judge to limit Apple’s influence in the publishing market and give the government oversight of the iTunes Store and App Store. Source: The Wall Street Journal… 

 

  • A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the Nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans. Source: Reuters… 

 

  • Cities across the country are pushing municipal unions to accept cheaper health benefits in anticipation of a component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will tax expensive plans starting in 2018. The so-called Cadillac tax was inserted into the law at the advice of economists who argued that expensive health insurance with the employee bearing little cost made people insensitive to the cost of care. Source: The New York Times… 

 

  • A study of gags by late-night comics during the first half of the year found an abrupt change from 2012. Now President Barack Obama and Democrats are providing the lion’s share of punchlines. Source: Fox News… 

 

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Record Number Of Young Adults Living With Parents

A Pew study released late last week reveals more young adults — 21.6 million — are living at home with their parents than at any time in America’s history.

Perhaps that’s to be expected, since the Nation’s overall population continues, gradually, to grow. But the study also found that a higher proportion of the young adult population is living back at home than at any time immediately before, during or after the 2008 recession.

In fact, the 36 percent of young “millennials” living with parents represents the highest ratio in more than 40 years, when the culture of the nuclear family in the United States was far more dominant. Live-at-home data reaching farther into the past than 1968 doesn’t exist, so there’s no way to know if today’s statistics reflect a true all-time high for the Nation.

The study, which analyzed information drawn from a March follow-up survey augmenting the 2010 census, found that 32 percent of millennial adults lived with parents in 2007. That’s a number that had remained relatively consistent since 1968.

By the “official” end of the recession in 2009, the number had risen to 34 percent. In 2012, despite repeated chirpy proclamations from the White House that the economy is in recovery mode, the number had climbed past 36 percent.

The economy heads a list of three key factors the Pew researchers credit for fueling the “crash-with-mom” trend.

The steady rise in the share of young adults who live in their parents’ home appears to be driven by a combination of economic, educational and cultural factors. Among them:

  • Declining employment. In 2012, 63% of 18- to 31-year-olds had jobs, down from the 70% of their same-aged counterparts who had jobs in 2007. In 2012, unemployed Millennials were much more likely than employed Millennials to be living with their parents (45% versus 29%).
  • Rising college enrollment. In March 2012, 39% of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in college, up from 35% in March 2007. Among 18 to 24 year olds, those enrolled in college were much more likely than those not in college to be living at home – 66% versus 50%.
  • Declining marriage. In 2012 just 25% of Millennials were married, down from the 30% of 18- to 31-year-olds who were married in 2007. Today’s unmarried Millennials are much more likely than married Millennials to be living with their parents (47% versus 3%).

Comparing today’s family demographic trends with those of 1968 also revealed that singles with children and cohabitation between unmarried partners are both way up (from 5.5 percent to 26 percent), and the number of married spouses sharing a home is way down (from 56 percent to 27 percent).

See the survey overview here. The full report is here.

Bail Out Detroit? Democrats: Maybe; Rest Of America: NO!

A Quinnipiac poll shows no decisive public will, even among Democrats, to involve the Federal government in whatever rescue operation may be deployed to dredge the ashes of Detroit for an economic bailout.

Only 51 percent of Democrats polled said they support a taxpayer-funded bailout, funneled through Washington, D.C., for Detroit, which is seeking bankruptcy protection over the opposition of State pensioners whose retirement funds could be decimated by court-approved write-offs of public debt.

By contrast, 73 percent of Republicans said they oppose any form of Federal bailout. And the majority opinion of Americans, regardless of their political views, is on the same side. Only 33 percent of all Americans polled said they support a government safety net for Detroit, while 57 percent said they were opposed.

The poll, which questioned 1,468 voters late last month on a number of current topics ranging from the Detroit bailout to “Stand Your Ground” laws to Congress and President
Barack Obama, showed a strong divide among various racial demographics on the extent to which the government should get involved in structuring a rescue plan for the Motor City.

With large racial and gender divisions, American voters back so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws 53 – 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Voters also say by a wide margin that the federal government should not bail out Detroit.

…Partisan and racial splits also mark American voters’ 57 – 33 percent opposition to a federal bailout of bankrupt Detroit.

Democrats back a bailout 51 – 35 percent, while opposition is 73 – 18 percent among Republicans and 65 – 28 percent among independent voters. Black voters support a bailout 57 – 36 percent, with white voters opposed 63 – 26 percent.

Once the Nation’s fourth-largest city, Detroit’s population peaked in the 1950s at more than 1.8 million. The city has lost more than 1 million residents in a gradual decline that accelerated most rapidly from 2000 to 2010, eroding its tax base and leaving behind a sprawling and expensive infrastructure to maintain. Detroit’s current population hovers slightly above 700,000.

Unrelated footnote: The Quinnipiac poll also reveals that racial demographics invert respondents’ opinions about “Stand Your Ground” laws. Whites favor “Stand Your Ground” protections for would-be crime victims by a 57 percent to 37 percent margin. Blacks, on the other hand, oppose such laws by exactly the same margin.

Stave Off Hackers With Passphrases

Vehement capitalist blogger Lew Rockwell has a tip for people concerned about the security of the passwords they use to access their protected information online: ditch passwords altogether in favor of passphrases.

What’s a passphrase? A “password” composed of words and symbols that, taken together, form a phrase that you’ll remember – but that can take a heck of a long time for hackers to crack.

An online security company, Silent Circle, has a website that, while soliciting subscriptions for its services, nevertheless allows you to test the relative security of any password or passphrase you create without having to buy anything.

A caution, if you do want to test the strength of a made-up password on the Silent Circle site: by all means, don’t type in a password that protects any of your current accounts. Make up one you have no intention of using, just to suss out what makes passphrases easier or harder to crack – and then get off the website and create a different, “real” passphrase that employs the same security-tightening measures.

Also, Rockwell points out that this sort of passphrase protection isn’t likely to guard against the spying eyes of the NSA or other American data surveillance programs (both known and unknown). Rather, use it to protect your information from conventional hackers. If you want to improve your chances of dodging the NSA – at least so far as email is concerned – consider email hosts that are based outside the U.S. and don’t have servers tied into the NSA dragnet.

“Bottom Line,” writes Rockwell: “Consider an offshore email, but definitely make your passwords longer by using a passphrase rather than a shorter but ‘harder’ password. Most sites will allow you to enter very long passphrases. Think of the minor investment in time versus the risk of identity theft, account takeover, and the extra time and resources for the government to snoop on you.”

 

Rangel: Tea Party The Same ‘White Crackers’ We Fought In The 1960s

Add Representative Charlie Rangel to the brood of race-baiters in the Congressional Black Caucus trying their damnedest to establish an imaginary link between Tea Party conservatism and the racism of the losers (many of them Southern Democrats) who persecuted blacks and their allies during America’s civil rights era.

Talking to The Daily Beast, Rangel (D-N.Y.) followed the precedent set by fellow CBC lumen Sheila Jackson Lee in 2010, freely using the “white crackers” epithet in an endeavor to not-so-constructively reopen the hateful wounds of racism that men like Martin Luther King Jr. sacrificed their lives to heal.

Admitting, at least, that the Tea Party strain of Constitutional activism is a threat to Democrats, Rangel said:

It is the same group we faced in the South with those white crackers and the dogs and the police. They didn’t care about how they looked. It was just fierce indifference to human life that caused America to say enough is enough. ‘I don’t want to see it and I am not a part of it.’ What the hell! If you have to bomb little kids and send dogs out against human beings, give me a break.

What Rangel’s reverie on the cruelties of dead Southern Democrats has to do with the Tea Party is anyone’s guess. He rests his case on “It is the same group” before falling into an emotional commentary on worthless people.

Are we to judge our elected leaders by the content of their character?

Imagine King deploying a term like “white crackers” to interject race, as a divisive ad hominem wedge, into an argument that otherwise wouldn’t involve race at all. Tall order, huh?

Rangel isn’t carrying the flag of American racial equality that King hoisted; he’s burning it.

Watch: Acting IRS Commissioner Says He Doesn’t Want To Switch To An Obamacare Health Plan

Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Daniel Werfel briefed the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday on the agency’s role in implementing and enforcing participation in Obamacare, which is set to start rolling out Oct. 1.

The temporary Obama appointee found it difficult to get through the session without staring down some hard questions from Republicans already opposed to the law. But, to his credit, Werfel allowed himself an extraordinary measure of candor when committee member Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) asked him this:

Mr. Werfel, last week your employees who are a member of the National Treasury Employee’s Union sent a form letter for union members to send in to ask they be exempt from the exchanges. Why are your employees trying to exempt themselves from the very law that you’re tasked to enforce?


 
For those who don’t watch the video, the upshot is Werfel telling Johnson: “I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I’m pleased with rather than go through a change if I don’t need to go through that change.”

Werfel’s response was astonishing for its honesty. He did attempt to justify the exempting of Federal employees by explaining that, with their comfortable benefit package, they aren’t ideal candidates for what Obamacare is selling. But that only serves to illustrate the chasm that separates the quality and cost of currently available health coverage from the government-subsidized, wealth-redistributing plans mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In a related note, Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner made an emergency request on Wednesday to postpone the start of Obamacare health exchanges in the State, as leaders try to figure out how to reconfigure new health plans under the program that won’t jack rates by 198 percent.

City Ponders Eminent Domain To Justify Mass Buy Of Underwater Home Mortgages

In a bizarre interpretation of State eminent domain law, a California Bay-Area city is considering the power of eminent domain to rescue more than 600 homeowners from delinquent mortgages.

The city would accomplish this new brand of government-subsidized housing by seizing the properties from secondary lenders, many of whom have cheaply bought off the underwater mortgages from major banks resigned to offload the original homeowners’ loans at a loss. The city would then pay the secondary lenders “a fair market value” and resell the homes back to their original occupants at current market prices, which in 2013 are far below the homes’ market values at the time of their pre-housing-bubble financing and construction.

Among the many things that aren’t clear is whether the “fair market value” the city intends to pay the lenders directly corresponds to the current market price the city would charge (with interest, no doubt) the delinquent occupants to remain in their homes.

If the plan is successful, Richmond, a city long controlled by a succession of Democratic mayors and council members, would become the first municipality in the United States to use the power of eminent domain in such fashion. But other cities are expressing interest in the idea.

Nearly half of Richmond’s home mortgages are underwater. Many of the houses are now valued at less than half what their owners, who financed their homes at the height of California’s easy-lending housing craze, are having to pay.

The eminent domain move has infuriated banks and secondary lenders, with many industry advocates warning that no bank on Earth would re-enter the housing market in a city with leaders willing to pull the trigger and force lenders to take a financial hit on properties whose owners stopped paying.