GOP To Harry Reid: Go Nuclear, And It’ll Bite You In 2014

Republican Senators have threatened Majority Leader Harry Reid that they’ll stall every attempt at passing legislation until after midterm elections, if he invokes the so-called “nuclear option” that would change Senate rules to allow a simple 51-vote majority vote to end a Republican-threatened filibuster.

“If Senator Reid changes the character of the Senate, then the Senate ceases to function. We’ll take our case to the people, we’ll argue for a new majority and then Republicans will be in a position to do whatever Republicans with 51 votes want to do,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) Thursday.

Reid’s “nuclear” threat stems from GOP Senators’ warnings that they’ll use a filibuster to halt the nomination of several of President Barack Obama’s nominees.

In other words, turnabout is fair play – and if the Republican Party regains control of the full Congress in 2014, expect Obama’s final two years in office to be a prison sentence, as the President watches Congress dismantle signature legislation like the Dodd-Frank Act and Obamacare.

H/T: The Hill

Ohio School System Allows Concealed Carry For Teachers

The board of education for an Ohio school district has approved a concealed carry policy for teachers in the 1,300-student system.

The school board of the Newcomerstown Exempted Village school district approved the change for the upcoming academic year after parents of students attending the system’s four schools urged changes that would equip faculty and staff to answer a hypothetical active-shooter scenario by shooting back.

In order for selected employees of the school system to carry a concealed weapon on campus, they must complete training and certification by the local sheriff’s department each year, and must possess a concealed carry permit.

In order to ensure the program assuages possible criticism that teachers aren’t supposed to double as law enforcement officers, or that bad guys could plan a mass shooting around knowledge they might gain about how the program is carried out among the faculty, the board is keeping quiet about specifics.

“Our school safety plan is not public record for obvious reasons,” said Board President Jerry Lahmers “We also want to protect the safety of the individuals [carrying guns], so that they don’t become targets, if such a situation does occur. We hope that this policy will act as a deterrent. The policy is intended to provide that extra last margin of safety.”

H/T: Reason

Charging Zimmerman; Texas Gold; Britain’s Panopticon; ‘High’ Taxes; Secession In The Wild West – Thursday Morning News Roundup 7-11-2013

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

  • Prosecutors in George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial want to ask jurors to consider lesser charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter as closing statements are underway today. Source: Associated Press
  • Texas’ oil output has doubled in less than three years, putting it in the ranks of OPEC heavy-hitters like Venezuela, Kuwait and Nigeria. Source: FuelFix
  • The British Security Industry Authority (BSIA) estimated there are up to 5.9 million closed-circuit television cameras in the country, including 750,000 in “sensitive locations” such as schools, hospitals and care homes. That’s one per 11 people. Source: The Telegraph
  • The taxes on recreational marijuana might go a lot higher than first thought. Smokers buying at shops in Denver may pay up to 35 percent in taxes. Source: CBS Denver
  • More From Colorado: Secessionists are pushing to create a 51st state out of parts of northeast Colorado, as this year’s legislative session underscored a growing urban-rural divide over State policy on a number of issues – but especially gun control. Source: CBS Denver

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

Schools Expelling Michelle O’s Austere, Expensive Lunch Program

Michelle Obama pushed hard to get the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFK) passed by Congress in 2010. And it did pass. Who wants kids to be hungry?

The Act authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USAD) to revamp the nutritional criteria for public school lunches and expanded the free school lunch program. The USDA estimates it will cost $3.2 billion to completely implement the nutritional changes nationwide over a five-year span. The free lunch expansion increases the Federal government’s $11 billion annual allotment for lunch subsidies by more than $1 billion per year.

But as quickly as many public schools have begun adopting new standards that replace traditional menu offerings with things like “part of” a chicken patty on a little croissant and arugula pizza, they’ve often just as quickly abandoned the program.

Why? Because kids hate it, it’s too expensive for the schools, the lunches themselves cost more for paying students, and cafeterias are losing money as kids continue to resort to bringing lunch from home in order to stave off hunger and eat what they choose.

It was reported Tuesday that the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district in New York dropped the program after losing $100,000 implementing the new Federal menu, but it’s only the most recent district to have left Obama’s attempted food fiat in the dust. Schools in Wisconsin, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Iowa, Kansas — pretty much everywhere, in other words — are either ditching the program or wrestling with angry students and parents in an effort to stay the course.

As with all nanny programs, the 850 calorie-maximum school lunch scheme is fraught with hypocrisy.

“The voluminous menu that’s good enough for the federal bureaucrats’ cafeteria should be good enough for our children’s school lunchroom,” said Senator Tim Huselkamp (R-Kan.), an ardent HHFK opponent, in April. “If USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack thinks the federal government should dictate what local governments put on their school lunchroom menus, why isn’t he leading by example? Secretary Vilsack should impose his ‘Nutrition Nanny’ standards on the USDA buildings’ cafeteria menus before the USDA seizes control of lunchroom menus in 100,000 school districts.”

New Leaked Graphic Reveals Upstream — Big Daddy To PRISM’s Big Brother

If the National Security Agency’s (NSA) PRISM program is Big Brother to American (and global) computer users, then a program revealed Wednesday in The Washington Post is the surveillance state’s Big Daddy.

Meet “Upstream.”

upstream-promo-606 CROPPED

Upstream became public knowledge with the release of a single slide — presumably one leaked to both The Washington Post and the Guardian by Edward Snowden — that appeared on The Post’s website Wednesday atop a story titled “The NSA slide you haven’t seen.”

As it appears, Upstream is a program of undersea fiber-optic cable tapping authorized and carried out by the U.S. government.

From Wednesday’s story:

The slide also shows a crude map of the undersea cable network that carries data from either side of North America and onto the rest of the world. As a story in Sunday’s Post made clear, these undersea cables are essential to worldwide data flows – and to the surveillance capabilities of the U.S. government and its allies.

…Both slides [the Guardian had previously published a separate slide that reveals some, but not all, of the same information] have circles attached to arrows suggesting possible collection points, but they cover areas too broad to discern where NSA accesses fiber-optic cable networks. The slides also list code names under the Upstream program.

If PRISM is intended to siphon off information about computer users’ activities by deploying surveillance at the host servers where all that information is being passed back and forth, Upstream can be thought of as the bottleneck-hijacking of the major 12-lane highways on which that information has to travel. What information it’s collecting is, of course, not known. But there’s no limit to what information it could be collecting.

Programmatically, Upstream is just a name on a slide — just as PRISM is. Leaving aside the empowered few in the loop of illegal government surveillance, there’s no telling whether the public holds enough information to conjure an accurate mental picture of the scope of these programs or a true understanding of how they overlap and intersect. These names are just shorthand to describe the things that outrage us. But at this point, outrage is a de rigueur state of mind for thinking Americans.

See more slides from the Snowden leak here.

Illinois Lawmaker Welcomes Police State As Palliative To Murder In ‘Gun Free’ Chicago

An Illinois State Representative held a press conference at the State Capitol Tuesday calling on the governor muster the National Guard to quell inner city violence.

“I am requesting with this press conference that Governor Patrick Quinn order the Illinois National Guard [and] the Illinois State Police come to Chicago and work with our mayor Rahm Emanuel to provide safety for the children, especially,” said Rep. Monique Davis, a Democrat, at the press conference.

Using similar logic, Governor Quinn had attempted, on the same day, to legislate guns out of more people’s hands through a veto effort that would have gutted a State law freeing Illinois residents to apply for concealed carry licenses – but the State Legislature overruled him. He had not responded to Davis’ unlikely request as of late Wednesday.

More than 100 people have been shot in Chicago since July 1, with 12 murders occurring over the July 4th holiday period. Last year, more than 500 people were murdered – a Chicago record.

Davis oddly compared Chicago’s epidemic of largely black-on-black “gun” violence to genocide in remarks to the Chicago Sun Times.

U.S. Abortion Laws Liberal Compared With (Liberal) Europe

With a bill before Congress that aims to establish a 22-week cutoff for abortion procedures in the U.S. – as well as a high-profile debate in Texas over similar legislation – the public discussion over late term abortion limits has escalated into extremism, with passions on both sides fueling hyperbolic language.

But a survey of abortion laws in other Western countries reveals that, even if Congress were to make abortions beyond 22 weeks illegal, the U.S. would still be one of the developed world’s most abortion-friendly Nations.

Canada has no law limiting when an expectant mother can end a pregnancy, and both the U.K. and the Netherlands cut off abortions after 24 weeks. But the rest of the Western world limits abortions with far greater severity. Liberal bastions like Sweden forbid abortion after 18 weeks; in Germany and France, the limit is set at 12 weeks.

Here’s a look at where the U.S. would stand among Western Nations if it limits abortion to 22 weeks:

abortion

Source: Phillip B. Levine, “Sex and Consequences: Abortion, Public Policy, and the Economics of Fertility” (Princeton University Press, 2007)

H/T: Weekly Standard

Obama’s Utopian Hypocrisy: The Developing World Needs Coal – But In The U.S., It’s Evil

President Barack Obama knows that the African energy initiatives he announced in a June 30 speech in Cape Town, South Africa, will rely heavily on developing nations named in the ambitious program using coal as a primary supplier for any expansion of the sub-Saharan region’s energy infrastructure.

In fact, with rich coal resources and plans to construct new coal-fired power plants, coal is certain to be the centerpiece of any energy-reliant effort at modernizing Africa. More than 1 billion people live in the region, but they’re presently using about as much energy as Canada’s sparse population of 34 million.

Early morning smog hangs over Cape Town, South Africa. Credit: Open Knowledge

But Obama’s vilification of coal in his Georgetown University speech last month is wholly absent from the $7 billion U.S.-backed plan he’s crafted for Africa. He knows Africa will develop with Evil, Polluting, Regressive Coal. There is no economic incentive for Africa to buy “green” energy from the Solyndras of the world. Come to think of it, there’s no incentive in the U.S., either.

No matter how idealistic the President may be about curbing greenhouse gases; no matter how condescending toward those who wonder whether mankind understands the Earth’s age-old atmospheric mysteries as well as he, Obama knows that no amount of coal-killing regulation in the U.S. is going to make one whit of difference in altering the net effect of burning coal to generate electricity worldwide.

Writing for National Review, Charles Krauthammer devastates Obama’s duplicitous take on climate change:

The U.S. has already radically cut CO2 emissions — more than any country on earth since 2006, according to the International Energy Agency…

And yet, at the same time, global emissions have gone up. That’s because — surprise! — we don’t control the energy use of the other 96 percent of humankind.

…This massive self-sacrifice might be worthwhile if it did actually stop global warming and save the planet. What makes the whole idea nuts is that it won’t. This massive self-inflicted economic wound will have no effect on climate change.

… We can kill U.S. coal and devastate coal country all we want, but the industrializing third world will more than make up for it. The net effect of the Obama plan will simply be dismantling the U.S. coal industry for shipping abroad.

To think we will get these countries to cooperate is sheer fantasy. We’ve been negotiating climate treaties for 20 years and gotten exactly nowhere. China, India, and the other rising and modernizing countries point out that the West had a 150-year industrial head start that made it rich. They are still poor. And now, just as they are beginning to get rich, we’re telling them to stop dead in their tracks?

Fat chance.

Indeed, in the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, the U.S. could have reduced its carbon emissions to nothing, and it wouldn’t have made a difference globally — the net output of carbon generated by the rest of the world over the same period would still have amounted to a net increase. Asia is the world’s emerging polluter, and our President’s answer is to punish Americans through onerous regulations that aim, in practice, to destroy the coal industry (and several State economies along with it), while driving up energy costs for everyone living and doing business in the U.S. — while the rest of the world develops apace.

Krauthammer explains this sort of starry-eyed liberalism represents the very mode of thinking Obama thinks he’s transcending when he refers to global warming’s skeptics as members of the “flat earth society” peanut gallery:

It’s flat-earthers like Obama who cite perennial phenomena such as droughts as cosmic retribution for environmental sinfulness…For a president to propose this with such aggressive certainty is incomprehensible. It is the starkest of examples of belief that is impervious to evidence. And the word for that is faith, not science.

More Warrantless Federal Surveillance: CFPB Collects, Shares Americans’ Credit Card Data

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) isn’t yet 3 years old, but it’s already every bit as entrenched as the National Security Agency (NSA) in snooping through the personal data of millions of unwitting Americans — average people who aren’t suspected of breaking any laws and who have no idea just how far the agency’s so-called “protections” could compromise their privacy.

That’s the report from nonprofit accountability group Judicial Watch (JW), which analyzed a trove of records it compelled the CFPB to hand over through a Freedom of Information Act demand filed in April.

What JW found may be more unsettling than anything the NSA’s been accused of doing.

Why? Because it reveals the CFPB has hoarded financial information from 5 million Americans’ credit and debit card transaction histories, and it has authorized private contractors to share the data across government agencies.

Note from the Editor: Under the Obama Administration, the NSA, the IRS, and the State and Justice departments are blatantly stepping on Americans’ privacy-and these are just the breaches we’re aware of. I’ve arranged for readers to get a free copy of The Ultimate Privacy Guide so you can be protected from any form of surveillance by anyone-government, corporate or criminal. Click here for your free copy.

In other words, not only does the CFPB have all the “track 1” and “track 2” data held in the magnetic strip of your credit and debit cards — information like your name, account number, expiration date and service code — it knows when and how you use your cards and what you use them to buy. Worse, the agency paid private contractors to collect all that information in the first place — and then hold onto it so other unnamed government agencies could acquire it, without a warrant and without even relying on a patronizing justification that involves “national security” or some such.

How, then, did the CFPB qualify its ambitious money-spying program? Like this:

THE CFPB seeks to acquire and maintain a nationally representative panel of credit information on consumers for use in a wide range of policy research projects.

The panel [i.e., guinea pigs] shall include 5 million consumers, and joint borrowers, co-signers, and authorized users. The initial panel shall contain 10 years of historical data on a quarterly basis. The initial sample shall be drawn from current records and historical data appended for that sample as well as additional samples during the intervening years to make the combines sample representative at each point in time.

Protection and research: Two things the Federal government uses to aggrandize power and enlarge its intrusion into the private sector.

What’s perplexing about this broad surveillance of information — information that, for most Americans, ranks among their most sensitive and personal – is that there’s no mention (either by the CFPB itself or Judicial Watch) of getting a court order authorizing any of this. U.S. News and World Report published a response in which a CFPB spokesman argued that the agency has had this kind of power ever since it was created under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.

That spokesman also declared that no one’s collecting data about actual purchases. But if that’s the case, then what other data is worth collecting? And how would it be quarantined from all the other “safe” data that’s being gathered in real time? And who is anybody trusting do carry out all of this? Oh, private contractors.

“The Obama administration’s warrantless collection of the private financial information of millions of Americans is mind-blowing,” said JW President Tom Fitton in a press release posted to the group’s website. “Is there anything that this administration thinks it can’t do? These documents show that the Consumer Financial Protection Board is an out-of-control government agency that threatens the fundamental privacy and financial security of Americans. This is every bit as serious as the controversy over the NSA’s activities.”

House Attacks White House Over Delaying Obamacare For Businesses – But Not People

GOP leaders in the House of Representatives are calling on President Barack Obama to grant the American people the same one-year reprieve from mandatory state-managed health care that the White House recently announced it would be granting to businesses.

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said he “never thought I’d see the day when the White House; the president, came down on the side of big business but left the American people out in the cold as far as this health care mandate is concerned.”

Other Republicans predicted the business-only delay would shift the cost of Obamacare’s first year of subsidized health care from companies to individuals.

House speaker John Boehner and Republican colleagues wrote Obama, pressing him to let individuals in on delaying the much-dreaded implementation of a wealth-redistributing health care law that critics say is too byzantine to ever succeed.

“We agree with you that the burden was overwhelming for employers, but we also believe American families need the same relief,” the GOP coalition remarked.