Is It Time For A Constitutional Convention? Tom Coburn Thinks So

Outgoing Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a tenacious budget hawk, says that he wants to lead an effort to organize a national convention to change the U.S. Constitution.

Citing ongoing gridlock in Washington, Coburn told The Hill in a recent interview that he hopes to convince the two-thirds of states required by Article V of the U.S. Constitution to support a Constitutional convention.

“I think [George] Mason was prophetic that we would devolve to where the federal government became too powerful, too big and too unwieldy. That’s why he put Article V in,” Coburn told the newspaper.

Coburn said he feels a convention is necessary to amend the law of the land in ways that members of Congress will not.

“I think we ought to have a balanced budget amendment, I think we ought to have term limits. I think we ought to put a chokehold on regulation and re-establish the powers of the Congress,” he said.

Coburn contends that amending the Constitution via Article V would create an opportunity to restore certain Congressional powers that have been usurped by the executive over the decades.

The Hill points out that the 17 amendments to the Constitution since the 1791 adoption of the Bill of Rights were made after the proposals won two-thirds support in Congress—an unlikely occurrence in today’s political environment—and were ratified by three-quarters of the states.

And some critics say Coburn’s plan is overkill, as Washington Post politics writer Phillip Bump notes:

There’s clearly a kill-a-fly-with-a-hand-grenade aspect to this. The 113th Congress that will be Coburn’s last has enacted 163 laws since January 2013 — which, while low, is still about six times the number of constitutional amendments. That’s because constitutional amendments were never intended to be a form of legislation; the Founding Fathers assumed Congress would do that to the public’s satisfaction, or the public would elect a new Congress. That thinking may have been flawed. Control of the Senate might switch after November. Control of the House will not — and nearly all of the House incumbents will return to Washington.

If the lawmaker were successful in his bid to foment a Constitutional convention, there would be potential for all manner of political confusion as Congress attempted to find its role in the process and arguments ensued over which issues could be up for debate and how they would be presented.

Biden Vows That U.S. Will Follow ISIS ‘To The Gates Of Hell’

Vice President Joe Biden offered some harsh words for the Islamic State terror group during a speech in Portsmouth, N.H., Wednesday as he vowed retaliation for the beheading of American journalists.

“If they think the American people will be intimidated, they don’t know us very well,” Biden said, expressing disgust over the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff.

“When people harm Americans, we don’t retreat, we don’t forget. We take care of those who are grieving. And when that is finished, they should know: We will follow them to the Gates of Hell, until they are brought to justice, because Hell is where they will reside!” The vice president shouted, repeating, “Hell is where they will reside!”

Biden’s remarks followed a more measured response to the journalist killings offered by President Barack Obama during an earlier speech from Estonia.

“Whatever these murders think they’ll achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed,” Obama said. “They failed because, like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to fight against these terrorists and those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”

House Democrats To Obama: ‘Secret Law Is A Threat To Democracy’

Joining forces with a group of privacy organizations and former White House officials, four House Democrats sent a letter to President Barack Obama over the weekend urging him to declassify all legal opinions and interpretations involving a controversial executive order used to justify government surveillance.

Reps. John Conyers (Mich.), Alan Grayson (Fla.), Rush Holt (N.J.) and Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) contend in the letter that Obama should work to enhance privacy protection damaged by Executive Order 12333, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan to expand the government’s data-collection authority and later amended by President George W. Bush.

“We call on the President to declassify and make public all current and future legal opinions or interpretations concerning surveillance under Executive Order 12333 and the surveillance-related regulations issued thereunder,” the letter states. “Secret law is a threat to democracy.

“We further call on the President to ensure that there is no disproportionate or unnecessary collection or retention of users’ communications and personal information and to implement meaningful privacy protections for all users, U.S. and foreign, in surveillance activities conducted under E.O. 12333, including the privacy recommendations of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies.”

Executive Order 12333 gives the National Security Agency the power to sweep up emails, online messages and other digital communications from people abroad. While the presidential order isn’t intended to authorize domestic surveillance, American citizens’ communications can be “incidentally” obtained (and possibly stored for later use) as agents investigate people outside of the country.

John Tye, a former State Department official who also signed the letter, explained the potential for 12333 abuses thusly in a recent interview with Ars Technica: “In theory the NSA could have a single legitimate foreign target that’s using Gmail, Yahoo, Dropbox, iMessage, Skype—and ‘incidental collection’ means that could mean that every person’s data from all of those services is swept up and stored—billions of people. I know that sounds crazy but that’s how the executive order works. The targeting is not a meaningful constraint on NSA collection.”

Do U.S. Policies On Travel Make ISIS Infiltration A Major Threat?

In a disturbing continuance of some federal officials’ refusal to believe that the Islamic State terrorists are bent on establishing a caliphate spanning Iraq and Syria, State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused Tuesday to say whether the passports of Americans confirmed to be fighting alongside the terrorists had been revoked.

Last week, reports emerged that government officials are aware of as many as 300 people with U.S. passports who could be fighting under the ISIS flag in Iraq and Syria.

“We know that there are several hundred American passport holders running around with ISIS in Syria or Iraq,” an unidentified senior U.S. official told the Washington Times. “It’s hard to tell whether or not they’re in Syria or moved to Iraq.”

Concerns about American citizens being radicalized by ISIS were inflamed on the heels of reports that American citizens have been identified among ISIS fighters killed in the Middle East.

Even as the threat of radicalized Americans traveling freely appears very real, the State Department officials can’t seem to decide one way or another (or at least they won’t say if they have) if ISIS is a threat to the U.S. homeland.

On Tuesday, State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused to tell reporters whether the passports of Americans known to be fighting with ISIS terrorists had been revoked.

Last week, Psaki claimed that her agency has made a top priority of dealing with ISIS-affiliated individuals “who have Western passports, who are able to gain access whether it’s the United States or other allies in western Europe.”

This week, however, Psaki informed reporters that keeping U.S. passport holders with known ties to ISIS out of the country is not simple as it sounds because of legal requirements mandating that the passports be revoked on a case-by-case basis.

“It’s not as black and white as that,” Psaki said when asked if passports of ISIS cohorts had been revoked. “We [State Department] can revoke passports for a number of reasons.”

If Psaki is correct about one thing, it’s that current U.S. policies involving passports and visas make understanding the full-scale threat of ISIS infiltration of the U.S. very difficult.

Visa waiver programs that make it easy for people with passports from 38 different Western nations to travel to the U.S. could make it much easier for ISIS to operate in the country undetected. During a recent interview on CNN, House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said that as many as 3,000 ISIS members could currently hold qualifying passports.

“The numbers vary,” Thornberry continued. “I don’t know the exact number, 2,000 to 3,000, say, have Western passports. It only takes a handful, as we saw on 9/11, to do enormous damage.”

Last week, Representative Mike Rodgers (R-Mich.) similarly warned that ISIS militants are “one plane ticket away from U.S. shores.”

“One of the problems is it’s going unabated for nearly two years, and that draws people from Britain, across Europe, even the United States to go and join the fight,” Rogers said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Unfortunately, even if the State Department were able to say definitively whether it had revoked potential terrorists’ passports and closed visa loopholes, the U.S. would likely remain vulnerable due to complacency at other levels of government.

ABC reported Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security has lost track of more than 6,000 foreign nationals who entered the nation on student visas.

From the report:

ABC News found that immigration officials have struggled to keep track of the rapidly increasing numbers of foreign students coming to the U.S. — now in excess of one million each year. The immigration agency’s own figures show that 58,000 students overstayed their visas in the past year. Of those, 6,000 were referred to agents for follow-up because they were determined to be of heightened concern.

“They just disappear,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. “They get the visas and they disappear.”

Coburn said since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, 26 student visa holders have been arrested in the U.S. on terror-related charges.

Tightening up the student visa program was one of the major recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, after it was determined that the hijacker who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon, Hani Hanjour, had entered the U.S. on a student visa but never showed up for school.

That, coupled with lax immigration policies along the U.S.’s southern border has led some observers to conclude that a terror attack on scale with the 9/11 tragedy is imminent.

Majority Of Voters Wish Obama Had A Plan To Neutralize ISIS

A majority of voters believe that the Islamic State terror group poses a significant threat to the U.S. and, though reluctant to commit troops to the Middle East, are concerned that President Barack Obama has yet to formulate a comprehensive response to the jihadists recent gains in the region.

Asked during a press briefing last week how he intended to deal with ISIS advances in Syria, Obama responded, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.”

The president’s nonchalance about the ISIS threat, according to new polling data out from Rasmussen, is a concern for many Americans. Sixty-seven percent of likely U.S. voters polled expressed concerns that the Islamic State directly threatens the U.S., compare to just 13 percent who remain unworried about the terror group.

And while just 30 percent of respondents supported the idea of putting U.S. boots on the ground in the Middle East to deal with ISIS, 73 percent said they are worried that the president has yet to present an ISIS response plan to the American people.

Broken down along party lines, Rasmussen reports “just 52% of Democrats consider ISIS a serious threat to the United States, compared to 82% of Republicans and 70% of voters not affiliated with either major party.”

Tellingly, there is also a disconnect between average voters’ feelings about the president’s handling of ISIS and views held among members of the political class.

“Sixty-four percent (64%) of the Political Class think the administration has done a good or excellent job responding to the threat from ISIS,” Rasmussen reports. “Fifty-three percent (53%) of Mainstream voters rate the administration’s performance in this area as poor.

“Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters who consider ISIS a serious threat to the United States believe the administration has done a poor job. By a 40% to 33% margin, these voters favor sending U.S. troops to Iraq.”

Two weeks after alleged footage of Islamic State militants beheading American journalist James Foley surfaced a video purporting to show the execution of American freelance journalist Steven Sotloff has emerged. The second video of ISIS murdering a U.S. citizen has prompted calls from U.S. lawmakers for the president to take swift and decisive actions to eliminate the terror group.

“Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty,” said a statement from Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.

According To The Federal Government, There’s No Such Thing As Islamist Terrorism

As violent Islamic extremists in the Middle East vow to bring bloodshed to the U.S. homeland, the federal government continues its politically correct willful ignorance of the threat radical Islam poses to the well-being of American citizens.

Last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his country raised its terror threat level to “severe,” its second-highest spot, because of the ISIS terror threat.

“The ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the UK,” he said.

Cameron also spoke of the challenges related to responding to a terrorist threat rooted in religious extremism.

“This threat cannot be solved simply by dealing with perceived grievances over Western foreign policy,” he said. “Nor can it be dealt with by addressing poverty, dictatorship or instability in the region — as important as these things are.

“The root cause of this threat to our security is quite clear. It is a poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism that is condemned by all faiths and faith leaders.”

The British actions and willingness to admit that Islamic extremism is a major threat contrast sharply with the stance that American officials have taken in conversations about ISIS.

Last week, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that there was no indication that ISIS is plotting attacks against the U.S.

“I can tell you with great clarity and certainty that if that threat existed inside of Syria that it would certainly be my strong recommendation that we would deal with it,” he said. “I have every confidence that the president of the United States would deal with it.”

Officials at the U.S. State Department have taken a similar stance, claiming that there was no indication that ISIS is religiously motivated or bent on attacking the U.S.

“This is not about [ISIS] versus the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “They are killing anyone who gets in their way: Sunnis, Shia Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Iraqis, Syrians, anyone who gets in their way — and now an American.”

“So this is not about what the United States is or isn’t doing,” Harf continued. “This is about [ISIS] stated a commitment to murder, rape, enslave people who don’t agree with their ideology and who get in their way.”

She later added, “[T]hey can say whatever they’d like, but what I am making clear is that’s not what [ISIS] represents. And they don’t represent any religion. They are at war with everybody they come into contact with.”

Sunday News Show Roundup

Sunday’s political talk shows were dominated by talk of the Islamic State (ISIS) terror organization which is continuing to gain ground in the Middle East.

During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Representative Peter King (R-NY) decried the White House’s Friday announcement that the U.S. will not follow Britain’s lead in considering ISIS a direct threat to the homeland.

“We have to face it as much as the British do,” King said, noting that there are potentially thousands of people who have the ability to travel freely to Western countries fighting alongside ISIS.

King said that President Barack Obama should order airstrikes in Syria as soon as possible in order to eliminate the ISIS threat.

“The longer we wait, the more dangerous [ISIS becomes],” King said.

Democratic Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), a top member of the House Armed Services Committee, said that the U.S. must be careful to avoid sending the message that the nation is siding with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is also currently working to beat back the ISIS threat.

“We don’t want to come into Syria now on the side of Assad,” Smith said.

The lawmaker added that the U.S. “can’t simply bomb first and ask questions later” because military action could inadvertently drive more recruits “into the arms of ISIS.”

House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rodgers, a Michigan Republican, told “Fox News Sunday” that the growing ISIS threat is a direct result of the Obama Administration’s ongoing foreign policy failures.

“We find it consistent with his past policy and actions on foreign policy,” Rogers told host Chris Wallace. “It shows and I think exemplifies that his foreign policy is in freefall.”

Rodgers added that Obama’s actions are causing traditional U.S. allies to lose faith in the nation’s power to influence international policy.

“Our traditional allies are now standing up saying ‘well, maybe America is not the best force to lead us through these troubles,’ ” Rogers said.

On “Face the Nation,” Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) expressed a similar sentiment, saying that Obama is “either in denial or overwhelmed” by the ISIS threat coupled with Russian aggression in Ukraine.

McCain said that the president must adopt a strategy to defeat ISIS rather than containing the militant group.

The lawmaker added that Obama could have averted the ISIS gains by providing Syrian rebels with weapons last year.

“That was a seminal moment,” McCain said of Obama’s decision not to arm the rebels.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, shared a similarly critical view of Obama’s response to the ISIS threat, calling his actions “too cautious.”

“[T]here is good reason for people to come together now and begin to approach this as a very real threat, that it in fact is,” she said.

The longtime lawmaker said that ISIS stands out as a particularly dangerous non-state actor because of its ability to raise funds.

ISIS is “really the first group that has the wherewithal in terms of financing, the fighting machine in terms of a structure — a heavy equipment, heavy explosives, the ability to move quickly,” she said.

Reports: Terror Attack From Southern Border ‘Imminent’

The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch issued a statement Friday, claiming that government sources have confirmed that Islamic State terrorists are operating in Mexico and planning terror attacks on the U.S.

Via Judicial Watch:

Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.

Read the full statement here.

Fox News reports that it has obtained a three page law enforcement bulletin released Thursday, entitled “ISIS Interest on the US Southwest Border,” which notes that ISIS militants are aware of the U.S.’s lax border security.

“A review of ISIS social media messaging during the week ending August 26 shows that militants are expressing an increased interest in the notion that they could clandestinely infiltrate the southwest border of US, for terror attack,” the document says, according to Fox.

“Social media account holders believed to be ISIS militants and propagandists have called for unspecified border operations, or they have sought to raise awareness that illegal entry through Mexico is a viable option,” it continues.


A Tale Of Two Leaders: ‘Don’t Have A Strategy’ And ‘Poisonous Ideology Of Islamist Extremism’ Threatens All… Guess Which One Isn’t An Obama Quote

Following President Barack Obama’s brazen announcement that his administration has yet to come up with a strategy to respond to the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists gaining ground in the Middle East, British Prime Minister David Cameron called the ISIS gains a “greater and deeper threat to security than we have known” in an address to his countrymen.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse: we don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said of how the U.S. would respond to ISIS advances in Syria. “I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.”

The statement quickly caused a political uproar.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday urged the president to “exercise some leadership” and present a regional strategy to Congress.

“The President needs to present this plan to the Congress, and the American people, and where the President believes he lacks authority to execute such a strategy, he needs to explain to the Congress how additional authority for the use of force will protect America,” McConnell said in a statement.

Others took the president to task on social media.

The White House has since been engaged in damage control, with press secretary Josh Earnest claiming that the White House does have a broad “comprehensive strategy” for fighting ISIS, just not Syria-specific plans.

“The reason for that is simply that the Pentagon is still developing that plan and (Obama) is still reviewing it,” Earnest said Friday.

Meanwhile, Britain’s prime minister said that the ISIS advances are a direct threat to UK and other western countries.

“The ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the UK,” he said.

Cameron announced that his country raised its terror threat level to “severe,” its second highest spot.

The British actions contrast sharply with the stance that American officials have taken with regard to the ISIS threat. Earlier this week, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that there was no indication that ISIS is plotting attacks against the U.S.

“I can tell you with great clarity and certainty that if that threat existed inside of Syria that it would certainly be my strong recommendation that we would deal with it,” he said. “I have every confidence that the president of the United States would deal with it.”

Officials at the U.S. State Department have taken a similar stance, claiming that there was no indication that ISIS—a group bent on forming an Islamic caliphate— is religiously motivated or bent on attacking the U.S.

“This is not about [ISIS] versus the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “They are killing anyone who gets in their way: Sunnis, Shia Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Iraqis, Syrians, anyone who gets in their way — and now an American.”

“So this is not about what the United States is or isn’t doing,” Harf continued. “This is about [ISIS] stated a commitment to murder, rape, enslave people who don’t agree with their ideology and who get in their way.”

She later added, “[T]hey can say whatever they’d like, but what I am making clear is that’s not what ISIL represents. And they don’t represent any religion. They are at war with everybody they come into contact with.”

Compare that with what Cameron said Friday: “The terrorist threat was not created by the Iraq war 10 years ago. It existed even before the horrific attacks on 9/11, themselves some time before the war.

“This threat cannot be solved simply by dealing with perceived grievances over Western foreign policy,” he added. “Nor can it be dealt with by addressing poverty, dictatorship or instability in the region – as important as these things are.

“The root cause of this threat to our security is quite clear. It is a poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism that is condemned by all faiths and faith leaders.”

Someone is getting it wrong— and we’re guessing it’s the guy whose administration hasn’t come to terms with the fact that radical Islam breeds terrorists and hasn’t worried over a strategy to stop them.

UPDATE: Reports: Terror Attack From Southern Border ‘Imminent’

Police Lobby Gears Up To Protect Militarization Of Law Enforcement

As the Department of Justice faces increasing pressure to examine the militarization of American law enforcement agencies, police associations have kicked off lobbying efforts aimed at keeping intact the Pentagon program that allows police to acquire military gear.

This week a group of politicians, community leaders and celebrities joined the community-empowerment group Center for Global Policy Solutions to pen a letter to President Obama asking how the federal government intends to change policing policies after the heavy-handed response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

The letter urges officials to address police race relations as well as departments’ increasing militarization. It calls on the Obama Administration to encourage increases in law enforcement training, accountability and diversity, along with the suspension of Pentagon programs “that transfer military equipment into the hands of local police departments.”

From the letter:

Investigations into the Ferguson shooting are ongoing, and many of the specific facts remain unclear for now. However, the pattern is too obvious to be a coincidence and too frequent to be a mistake. From policing to adjudication and incarceration, it is time for the country to counter the effects of systemic racial bias, which impairs the perceptions, judgment, and behavior of too many of our law enforcement personnel and obstructs the ability of our police departments and criminal justice institutions to protect and serve all communities in a fair and just manner.

In addition, the militarization of police departments across the country is creating conditions that will further erode the trust that should exist between residents and the police who serve them. The proliferation of machine guns, silencers, armored vehicles and aircraft, and camouflage in local law enforcement units does not bode well for police-community relations, the future of our cities, or our country.

And surely neither systemic racial bias nor police department militarization serves the interests of the countless police officers who bravely place their lives at risk every day.

“We’re at our zero moment as a nation,” Center for Global Policy Solutions CEO Maya Rockeymoore said of the effort. “If we continue to let this go unaddressed, we’re going to have Fergusons springing up all across the country.”

Meanwhile, with regard to calls for police demilitarization, police lobbying groups are vocally calling on government officials to leave law enforcement’s military toys alone.

Last week, the National Tactical Officers Association shot off more than a thousand emails to Capitol Hill staffers urging them to encourage lawmakers to protect the Pentagon’s 1033 program.

“The police have to be one step ahead of the criminal element, have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. You don’t want a community to be taken over by one or many criminals,” NTOA Executive Director Mark Lomax told the The Daily Beast of the effort. “We’re definitely for equipping our law enforcement officials out there properly, with proper training and proper policies.”

The nation’s largest police organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, is also making its presence known at the Capitol by meeting with lawmakers ahead of Congress’s return from its August recess.

According to reports, the police groups are concerned that some lawmakers could use a September stopgap funding bill needed to prevent government shutdown to halt military equipment transfers to law enforcement.

Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 8-28-2014

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton Is A Warmonger Who Would Get Clobbered In 2016

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this week blasted former Secretary of State— and potential 2016 presidential contender— Hillary Clinton and other “U.S. interventionists” he says are responsible for empowering the Islamic State terror group’s advances in the Middle East. More… 

Obama: ‘We Don’t Have A Strategy Yet’ To Move On The Islamic State

White House staffers had a major cleanup job on their hands after President Obama got done with his statement on a pair of global crises today. More… 

Have You Heard About The Pentagon’s ‘Everything Must Go’ Sale?

Reason’s Will Neff and Paul Detrick have teamed up to produce a satirical television commercial that reveals the absurdity of the military-to-police equipment pipeline created by the Defense Department’s 1033 program. Video… 

Federal Debt Has Doubled Since 2007

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an update to its ten-year budget and economic outlook report Wednesday. It begins by touting the ongoing reduction in the federal budget deficit – that is, in the simplest terms, the amount of money the government is spending each year beyond what Congress budgeted for that year. More… 

Pessimism Rocks America’s Post-Recession Workplace

If a sampling of Americans is correct, the U.S. economy and workplace was forever changed — for the worse — by the Great Recession. More… 

Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton Is A Warmonger Who Would Get Clobbered In 2016

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this week blasted former Secretary of State— and potential 2016 presidential contender— Hillary Clinton and other “U.S. interventionists” he says are responsible for empowering the Islamic State terror group’s advances in the Middle East.

“As the murderous, terrorist Islamic State continues to threaten Iraq, the region and potentially the United States, it is vitally important that we examine how this problem arose,” Paul begins a Wall Street Journal op-ed published late Wednesday. “Any actions we take today must be informed by what we’ve already done in the past, and how effective our actions have been.

“Shooting first and asking questions later has never been a good foreign policy. The past year has been a perfect example,” the senator continues.

Shooting first, Paul contends, is precisely what Clinton and the Obama Administration did last year by advocating for regime change in Syria without “a reasonable degree of foresight.”

“The administration’s goal has been to degrade Assad’s power, forcing him to negotiate with the rebels,” Paul writes. “But degrading Assad’s military capacity also degrades his ability to fend off the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Assad’s government recently bombed the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS in Raqqa, Syria.

“To interventionists like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we would caution that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria created a haven for the Islamic State. We are lucky Mrs. Clinton didn’t get her way and the Obama administration did not bring about regime change in Syria. That new regime might well be ISIS,” the lawmaker contends.

Clinton is of the opposite opinion, as we noted earlier this month:

Clinton blamed Obama for the ISIS advances in a recent interview with The Atlantic.

According to the former top diplomat, the Administration could have made it more difficult for ISIS to gain support throughout the Middle East by doing more to support rebels in Syria when that country was initially besieged by civil war.

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.

This isn’t the first time that Paul, steadfast in his non-interventionist views despite pressure from his own party, has criticized the current Democratic administration’s foreign policy practices. And the lawmaker believes that the country is on his side.

Here’s what the senator had to say about Clinton on MSNBC over the weekend: “I think the American public is coming more and more to where I am… Hillary Clinton, who… fought her own war, Hillary’s War, you know… I think that’s what scares the Democrats the most, is that in a general election, were I to run, there’s gonna be a lot of independents and even some Democrats who say, ‘You know what, we are tired of war. We’re worried that Hillary Clinton will get us involved in another Middle Eastern war, because she’s so gung-ho.’

“If you wanna see a transformational election in our country, let the Democrats put forward a war hawk like Hillary Clinton, and you’ll see a transformation like you’ve never seen,” Paul opined.

Congressional Budget Office Says Deficit Will Top $500 Billion This Year

Officials at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that the federal deficit for fiscal 2014 is expected to top out at more than $500 billion, higher than projected due to a drop in corporate tax revenues.

The deficit estimate of $506 billion by September’s end is actually low compared to years at the height of the nation’s economic recession, though it is higher than the $492 billion deficit predicted back in April.

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told reporters gathered at a briefing that the fluctuation was likely de to companies using legal means to put off paying taxes.

While the deficit numbers look better than other years under the Obama Administration– $680 billion last year and an outstanding $1.1 trillion in 2009— the decline isn’t likely to maintain, according to Elmendorf.

“The federal budget deficit has fallen sharply during the past few years and is on a path to decline further this year and next,” Elmendorf said at a press conference Wednesday. “But later in the coming decade, under current law, the gap between spending and revenues would grow again relative to the size of economy, and federal debt would climb.”

Meanwhile the nation’s overall national debt, at more than 74 percent of the economy, is higher than it has been at any point since 1950.

Worse yet, as deficits begin to increase again in 2018, according to the CBO’s projections, the nation’s debts is expected to increase even more, reaching at least 77 percent of the economy within a decade.

“The persistent and growing deficits that CBO projects would result in increasing amounts of federal debt held by the public,” the CBO said.

Vehicle To Vehicle Communication Requirements Could Give Government Control Over Personal Travel

In the not-so-distant-future, American motorists could find the location, direction and speed of their automobiles constantly monitored by government officials as they travel, according to recent filings revealing that the Department of Transportation is making the first steps toward requiring “vehicle to vehicle communications.”

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration published rule proposals in the Federal Register this month that “would propose to create a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS), FMVSS No. 150, to require vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication capability for light vehicles (passenger cars and light truck vehicles, or LTVs) and to create minimum performance requirements for V2V devices and messages.”

The systems would monitor things like speed, direction and roadway location of individual vehicles and broadcast the information to nearby drivers. The information could also be used alongside emerging technologies such as crash avoidance systems already being built into newer automobiles to increase roadway safety, according to the NHTSA.

The agency reports that it intends to examine the effectiveness of V2V communications in everything from vehicles with no active control systems to future cars that could include full automation and self-driving.

Currently, NHTSA officials are focusing their attention on systems designed to assist with left turns and intersection navigation that the agency believes could prevent up to 529,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives per year.

The government safety agencies have emphasized that the technology they’re looking in to isn’t designed to provide law enforcement monitoring tools and will never be used in such a manner.

“There is no data in the safety messages exchanged by vehicles or collected by the V2V system that could be used by law enforcement or private entities to personally identify a speeding or erratic driver,” the NHTSA proposal said.

“Our research to date suggests that drivers may be concerned about the possibility that the government or a private entity could use V2V communications to track their daily activities and whereabouts,” said the report. “However, as designed, NHTSA is confident that the V2V system both achieves the agency’s safety goals and protects consumer privacy appropriately.”

If it weren’t for what Americans already know about how the government has abused other technological advances designed to make people safer and better informed— the Internet, cell phones, etc.— NHTSA’s claims might be believable. Unfortunately, the precedent is set and it’s only a matter of time before law enforcement takes advantage of the systems.

Texas School District: Our Teachers Are Armed And Prepared To Protect Students

Signs announcing that a particular property is considered a “gun-free zone” frequently plastered outside schools, government buildings and some private businesses are, quite unsurprisingly, ineffective at keeping firearm brandishing psychopaths at bay. That’s why one Texas school district is taking a different approach.

In January officials at the Argyle Independent School District voted in favor of allowing school marshals on campus under the Protection of Texas Children Act, meaning students are starting this school year with the knowledge that some teachers on campus are armed and prepared to defend themselves and their students against armed intruders.

And for those who are unaware of the policy, Argyle IDF schools send a clear message with signs at campus entrances informing visitors, “Please be aware that the staff at Argyle ISD are armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.”

The number of armed teachers and their identities are not made public by school officials—but the policy mandates that educators who wish to concealed carry at the school pass a psychological evaluation, have emergency response and firearm training and maintain a handgun license.

According to local media, some of the teachers even took time out of their summer breaks to fulfill training requirements.

Reports indicate that local parents largely support the policy.

“I trust that the administrators of this school district will put my kid’s best interest at heart,” parent Lacey Fenoglio told CW33.

She added, “I think if a tragedy does occur, lives can be saved by guns being in the right hands, and I think the teachers here might be able to stop something like that and life can be saved.”

Argyle is one of only a handful of Texas school districts which have chosen to take advantage of the added safety provided by arming teachers since the law passed.

Laws allowing armed teachers also exist in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee.

Liberal groups continue to miss the point that telling criminals and wackos not to do something is an ineffective way to stop them.

Commenting on a recent poll which illustrated that gun violence in schools is a major area of concern for American parents, Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts had this to say: “This poll confirms what we’ve been saying since moms across the country mobilized after the brutal attack in Newtown, Connecticut where twenty kids and six educators were killed in the sanctity of their elementary school: Moms will no longer tolerate America’s culture of gun violence. We demand to be safe in the places we go with our children – schools, restaurants, stores, parks and in our own homes.

“By opposing legislation to close the deadly loopholes in our background check system that allow minors and dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers easy access to guns, as well as reasonable limits on where, when and how loaded gun are carried and used in public, it’s crystal clear the gun lobby is out of touch with the concerns of American parents, including those who are gun owners.”

So what exactly is so bad about educators (who, remember, have passed a psychological evaluation, have emergency response and firearm training and maintain a handgun license) being prepared to keep children on campus safe from the unexpected? To borrow from Shannon, it is crystal clear the anti-gun lobby is out of touch with reality.

Officials Say Hundreds Of Americans Have Joined Islamic State Terror Group As It Gains A Disturbing Amount Of Western Support

After confirmation that an American man was killed Tuesday fighting alongside Islamic State fighters in Syria, there is widespread speculation among law enforcement and intelligence officials that the terror group has radicalized at least hundreds of other Americans.

While Douglas McAuthur McCain, the dead American jihadist identified this week, isn’t the first person with a U.S. passport to be killed fighting with Islamist militants, he is believed to be the first American proven to have been radicalized specifically by Islamic State propaganda.

Reports indicate that McCain had come under government scrutiny in recent months for being a possible Islamic State sympathizer.

Via CNN:

U.S. counterterrorism investigators had been looking into McCain’s activities for some time before his death, one U.S. official said.

He was on a list of Americans who are believed to have joined militant groups and who would be stopped and subjected to additional scrutiny if he traveled, according to the official.

Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, who had top roles in the State and Defense Departments in President George W. Bush’s administration, said he expects more stories like McCain’s.

Indeed, government officials have said that they are working to gather intelligence on at least 300 Americans believed to be fighting with Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

“We know that there are several hundred American passport holders running around with ISIS in Syria or Iraq,” said an unidentified senior U.S. official quoted by the Washington Times. “It’s hard to tell whether or not they’re in Syria or moved to Iraq.”

Islamic State terrorists have ambitiously attempted to recruit western sympathizers through social media messaging and the distribution of violent, yet well-produced, online videos which portray their depraved human rights abuses as an action-packed adventure on the road to martyrdom.

It was recently reported that the terror group had even attempted to capitalize on the civil unrest in Ferguson, MO., in an effort to gain U.S. supporters.

The group has also claimed that it has a heavy presence in the U.S., recently posting a picture of the Islamic State flag in front of the White House to Twitter. Another post on the social networking site featured the flag in front of a Chicago high-rise along with the message, “We are in your state. We are in your cities. We are in your streets. You are our goals anywhere.”

According to the results of a recent poll, support for the terror group is likely on the rise throughout the Western world. The poll, conducted on behalf of the Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya by ICM, found that among people in Great Britain, France and Germany 2 percent say they have a favorable view of Islamic State and 7 percent say they have a somewhat favorable view of the group. In France, which has a large Muslim population, 16 percent of those surveyed say they support ISIS; among people age 18-24 in the country the number jumps to 27 percent.

A French correspondent for Newsweek said the results were unsurprising.

“This is the ideology of young French Muslims from immigrant backgrounds,” Anne-Elizabeth Moutet said, “unemployed to the tune of 40 percent, who’ve been deluged by satellite TV and internet propaganda.”

ICREACH: The Government’s Searchable Database Of Private Communications

In an effort to help dozens of government agencies access the troves of private telecommunications data it scoops up from foreigners and American citizens, the National Security Agency has its own “Google-like” search engine.

New information out from The Intercept — a site dedicated to reporting on NSA activities — reveals that the spy agency’s databases have likely been routinely used by domestic law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Via The Intercept:

ICREACH has been accessible to more than 1,000 analysts at 23 U.S. government agencies that perform intelligence work, according to a 2010 memo. A planning document from 2007 lists the DEA, FBI, Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency as core members. Information shared through ICREACH can be used to track people’s movements, map out their networks of associates, help predict future actions, and potentially reveal religious affiliations or political beliefs.

The creation of ICREACH represented a landmark moment in the history of classified U.S. government surveillance, according to the NSA documents.

“The ICREACH team delivered the first-ever wholesale sharing of communications metadata within the U.S. Intelligence Community,” noted a top-secret memo dated December 2007. “This team began over two years ago with a basic concept compelled by the IC’s increasing need for communications metadata and NSA’s ability to collect, process and store vast amounts of communications metadata related to worldwide intelligence targets.”

Until the most recent disclosures, it was unclear how and to what extent the NSA shares the massive amount of data it collects with other agencies. The search tool, described by the NSA as a “one-stop shopping tool,” pulls information stored in several databases authorized by President Ronald Reagan’s Executive Order 12333, which expanded the government’s data-collection authority.

While 12333 surveillance is supposed to target only foreign communication networks, domestic communication information can easily be swept up by the government snooping programs.

Again from The Intercept:

To allow government agents to sift through the masses of records on ICREACH, engineers designed a simple “Google-like” search interface. This enabled analysts to run searches against particular “selectors” associated with a person of interest—such as an email address or phone number—and receive a page of results displaying, for instance, a list of phone calls made and received by a suspect over a month-long period. The documents suggest these results can be used reveal the “social network” of the person of interest—in other words, those that they communicate with, such as friends, family, and other associates.

The sharing of information between the NSA and domestic law enforcement agencies all takes place without court oversight.

Read more at The Intercept.


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.

House Republicans Move Forward On Obama Lawsuit, Hire Lawyer

House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) on Monday signed a contract with the Washington, D.C.-based law firm BakerHostetler for legal representation in a civil action lawsuit against the president of the United States.

Ahead of their five-week summer recess, GOP lawmakers in the House lawmakers voted to move forward with a suit against the President for abusing his executive power by delaying an Obamacare mandate requiring employers with 50 or more workers to carry insurance.

“No President is above nor should operate beyond the limits of the Constitution,” Miller said in a statement. “The House of Representatives, using regular order and the powers that the Constitution has provided, calls upon our government’s system of checks and balances and asks the judicial branch to examine the President’s failure to faithfully execute the law.”

The lawmakers have agreed to pay BakerHostetler $500 per hour for “reasonable attorney time expended in connection with the litigation” to a cap of $350,000 which, according to the contract, “will not be raised.”

As the GOP works out the details of where the suit will be filed and attempt to gain standing before the court, Democrats are criticizing the legal action as a waste of time and taxpayer money.

“This outrageous waste of taxpayer dollars is yet another reminder of House Republicans’ misguided priorities,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Representative Steve Israel (N.Y.) said in a statement.

“Only in John Boehner’s world does it make sense to pay lawyers $500 per hour to work on a partisan lawsuit while refusing to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for hardworking Americans trying to feed their families,” he added.

White House Sets U.S. Up For Another Foreign Policy Nightmare

An influential Senate Democrat called Monday for President Barack Obama to seek congressional approval before launching airstrikes against Islamic State militants in the Middle East. The call came after the White House refused to say whether it would await a congressional greenlight for further military action.

Last year, Obama asked Congress for permission to launch strikes against the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria. Now, with the Assad regime struggling against the IS militants who pose a threat to the U.S., bombing IS means de facto support of Assad.

In addition, military action in Syria, in addition to the U.S. strikes that have already taken place in northern Iraq, would represent a dramatic escalation of force in the region.

“I am calling for the mission and objectives for this current significant military action against [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] to be made clear to Congress, the American people, and our men and women in uniform,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a statement. “And Congress should vote up or down on it.”

Kaine said that the administration should provide a clear plan to react to the IS threat and consult lawmakers.

But the White House has been hesitant to commit to congressional authorization. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that Obama is “committed to coordinating and consulting with Congress” but will act on his own if he feels the need.


Lt. General Warns That Something Big Will Happen On 9-11-2014

Ret. Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a military analyst for Fox, suggested on Saturday that the U.S. is in danger of suffering a devastating terror attack and should “go to DEFCON 1, our highest state of readiness and be prepared as we lead up to 9/11.”

After discussing a broad range of topics with Fox New’s Uma Pemmaraju,  McInerney mentioned  Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 which went missing earlier in the year and suggested that it could be intact and being readied by terrorists for use as a weapon against the U.S.

“On the seventh of September, a major news network and publishing network are going to put out a book. It is going to be earth shattering of what’s happening and what happened. The fact is we may even see a 9/11/14 MH-370 surface again,” he said. “We should go to DEFCON 1, our highest state of readiness and be prepared as we lead up to 9/11.”

It’s worth noting that the U.S. has never gone to  DEFCON 1.

Pemmaraju pressed for more information, “When you say a major news organization is coming forward with a publication, what are you referring to specifically? Can you allude to that, give us more details?”

But aside from reiterating that the U.S. should raise its terror threat level, McInerney provided little more information.

“I can’t give you any more than what I’ve just said. But it is going to be extremely important  and America should take notice. We are less safe today than we were six years ago,” he said.

A 2008 New York Times piece involving McInerney and other military analysts featured on network news makes his cryptic remarks a little more interesting.

The Times reported at the time that the Pentagon routinely works closely with the analysts to generate favorable public opinions of U.S. military actions.

From that Bush-era report:

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

According to the report, as of 2008 McInerney sat “on the boards of several military contractors, including Nortel Government Solutions, a supplier of communication networks.”

A government watchdog cleared the Pentagon of any wrongdoing in its efforts to woo analysts into acting as propaganda puppets.



Racial Division On Display As Ferguson Unrest Continues

A new poll examining how Americans feel about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, where police recently shot an unarmed black teen, finds that opinions about protests in the community and the police’s response are strongly divided along racial lines.

The data, out from Pew Research, shows that black Americans are overwhelmingly more likely to say that there’s a strong racial component to the police shooting of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old. Eighty percent of black Americans polled said that the situation in Ferguson should foment a national discussion about race relations, while 47 percent of white Americans reported that they feel the issue of race is overblown.

Feelings about the police response to protests in the community are similarly divided along racial lines. Just 35 percent of white respondents told Pew that they believed the police have gone too far in responding to the unrest in Ferguson, compared to 65 percent of black Americans who decried the police actions.

Age and political affiliation also influenced opinions in the Pew poll.

Fifty-five percent of Americans younger than 30 reported that the events in Ferguson highlight important racial issues. Other age demographics were divided about whether race plays a key role.

Democrats were more likely than Republicans to view race as an important part of the Ferguson story, as 68 percent said that Brown’s death should lead to renewed discussions about race in America. A majority of Democrats (56 percent) also said that the police response was too heavy-handed. GOP voters expressed near opposite views, with 61 percent saying that the racial component of Brown’s death is overblown and 43 percent reporting that the police are responding to the Ferguson protests appropriately.

The usual-suspect lineup of race hucksters (Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al.) has latched on to the racial component of the Ferguson protests. But reflections on race and law enforcement in the U.S. resulting from the situation in Ferguson are a little more surprising.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul has made no secret of his efforts to broaden his Party’s appeal to black voters. But his decision to dive feet first, via a column published in TIME last week, into the Ferguson debacle was met with skepticism from some Americans on the left and criticism from GOP factions.

“Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention,” Paul wrote in his piece. “Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.”

Matt Wills, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, later criticized Paul’s remarks on race as “unhelpful.”

“This is a tragedy for all communities — not just African-American communities,” Wills told The Hill. “I think this all just too much too soon from these politicians. We’re still learning new details. I can’t fault the police for wanting to protect themselves and the community, and I also have a deep place in my heart for the civil liberties we have as Americans.”

The situation in Ferguson deteriorated over the weekend after a period of relative calm late last week, prompting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to deploy state National Guard units to the community.

“The Guard’s immediate and limited responsibilities under the direction of Colonel Ron Replogle of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, are to provide protection, and ensure the safety of our Unified Command Center, which was the target last night of a coordinated attack,” Nixon said in a statement. “The Guard will concentrate its resources on carrying out this limited mission.”

Political Satirist On Ferguson: Take The ‘F*cking Toys’ From Police

On the Sunday edition of his HBO show “Last Week Tonight”, comedian John Oliver issued a scathing rebuke of the police response to recent civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, suggesting that law enforcement agencies throughout the country are increasingly equipped with weapons and vehicles that they don’t need.

“This whole story is depressingly familiar,” Oliver began. “And there are so many unanswered questions regarding why an officer would shoot an unarmed teenager. What is absolutely clear is that the police have handled everything since then terribly.”

The comedian noted that “not all cops are bad” but added that the militarization of police departments throughout the country enabled by the War on Drugs and post-9/11 attitudes has left police department like Ferguson’s “troublingly” equipped as if they are preparing to “launch an assault on Fallujah.”

“The police are not soldiers. So why in this photo from Ferguson are they wearing fucking camo? They are northwest of St. Louis, not northwest of the Amazon,” Oliver said. “If you are a cop in the United States, you should dress for the job you have, not the job you want.”

Oliver also criticized Missouri Governor Jay Nixon‘s decision to issue a curfew.

“So you took a community tired of being treated like criminals, and then imprisoned them in their own houses, and in the process of doing so, took on the tone of a pissed-off vice principle trying to restore order at a school assembly,” Oliver said.

The comedian called the governor’s response to the situation “profoundly patronizing.”

“I know the police love their ridiculous, unnecessary military equipment,” he continued. “So here’s another patronizing test: let’s take it all away from them, and if they can make it a whole month without killing an unarmed black man, only then can they get their fucking toys back.”

America: Throw The Bums Out

Americans are fed up with elected officials, according to recent polling data which finds that just 19 percent of likely voters believe that most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected.


On Monday, Gallup reported that the number of Americans who feel that most members of Congress should be replaced is the second highest since the polling agency began asking the question in 1992.

“These negative evaluations of Congress have historically been related to lower rates of incumbent re-election in midterm elections and a higher turnover of congressional seats,” Gallup reports.

To better understand what the numbers could mean for the upcoming midterm elections, will to reelect sitting members of Congress is 14 points lower than in 2010 and 19 points lower than in 1994, both years that saw midterm shakeups due to voter dissatisfaction.

The flipside to the high rate of disproval, however, is that 50 percent of voters say that their particular Congressional representative deserves to be re-elected.

“This percentage essentially ties with the response to this question in 2010, and is just slightly higher than the 48% in 1992,” Gallup notes. “So while this measure is historically low, it has not dropped to the record-low depths of the ‘most members’ question.”