No, The Indefinite Detention Fight Isn’t Over

Headlines last week declaring a civil liberties victory in a Senate vote to do away with indefinite detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act are misleading, say critics of military detention of American citizens.

The amendment to NDAA filed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and backed by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) was approved 67-23 last Thursday.

The amendment reads:

Nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81) shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus or to deny any Constitutional rights in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution for any person who is lawfully in the United States when detained pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) and who is otherwise entitled to the availability of such writ or such rights,” reads Sec 1033 (a) of the proposed Pentagon spending bill.

While the lawmakers claimed a victory in reigning in the military’s detention powers, the American Civil Liberties Union argued that that the Feinstein Amendment is far from a fix to eliminate indefinite detention and, in fact, expands the government’s power to hold Americans prisoner.

The ACLU argues the following points are problems with the amendment:

  • It would NOT make America off-limits to the military being used to imprison civilians without charge or trial. That’s because its focus on protections for citizens and green-card holders implies that non-citizens could be militarily detained. The goal should be to prohibit domestic use of the military entirely. That’s the protection provided to everyone in the United States by the Posse Comitatus Act. That principle would be broken if the military can find an opening to operate against civilians here at home, maybe under the guise of going after non-citizens. This is truly an instance where, when some lose their rights, all lose rights — even those who look like they are being protected.
  • It is inconsistent with the Constitution, which makes clear that basic due process rights apply to everyone in the United States. No group of immigrants should be denied the most basic due process right of all — the right to be charged and tried before being imprisoned.
  • It would set some dangerous precedents for Congress: that the military may have a role in America itself, that indefinite detention without charge or trial can be contemplated in the United States, and that some immigrants can be easily carved out of the most basic due process protections.

The bottom line, according to critics of the amendment, is that it still leaves open the possibility for the U.S. military to detain citizens and persons on U.S. soil in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which limits the use of military to enforce domestic law.

GMO Giants To Send Retired Cops To Farms

Genetically modified food giant DuPont has hired dozens of retired law enforcement professionals to sic on farmers it expects of saving seeds from harvests of its patented soybeans for use in the next planting year.

The company has contracted Canadian-based Agro Protection International, a company that contracts retired police officers to patrol potential violations of intellectual property law. The former cops, who already patrol Canadian farms for signs of double planting, will head out to American soybean farms that have seed contracts with DuPont next year. The company plans to sue farmers who use seeds from harvest for contract violations.

“Farmers are never going to get cheap access to these genetically engineered varieties,” said Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. “The biotech industry has trumped the legitimate economic interests of the farmer again by raising the ante on intellectual property.”

DuPont currently controls 36 percent of the soybean market in the United States — more than GMO giant Monsanto, from which it licenses the rights to sell U.S. farmers Roundup Ready soybeans that can withstand heavy doses of pesticides and herbicides. DuPont generated $1.37 billion in sales last year from soybean seeds, while Monsanto made $1.77 billion on the seeds and licenses.

The company has sued 145 farmers since 1997, according to Bloomberg, and won all of the 11 cases related to the suits that went to court. The Supreme Court said last month that it will soon consider whether the GMO planting restrictions are legal.

TGIF, Here’s Friday Morning’s News Roundup 11-30-2012

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

  • It looks like Congress will again have to raise its debt limit in March so it can continue to spend America into collapse.
  • Fast-food service is a low-paying job often considered an option of last resort for the unemployed and high school students. But union organizers have a plan to change that, as they attempt to get fast-food workers to strike throughout the country.
  • Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says he “burst into laughter” Thursday when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined the Barack Obama Administration’s proposal for averting the fiscal cliff. The millions of Americans facing financial calamity, however, aren’t laughing.
  • The Catholic Church has established an exorcist hotline in Milan to deal with the overwhelming number of people seeking help to get rid of demons. Wonder if they have time to take a look at Congress?

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Leave Your Whiteness At The Door

On the syllabus for a political science class, a professor at Butler University in Indiana directs students to leave their “American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status” at the door.

School officials, asked if the directive was made out of the assumption that white, middle-class, male students were inherently racist or misogynist, said that it simply serves to negate prejudices that may exist.

“Sometimes in order to broaden the conversation and broaden the understandings you’ve got to risk making people uncomfortable,” Jay Howard, dean of Butler’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, told The College Fix. “There’s nothing about a college education that guarantees you won’t be made uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, if you’re never made uncomfortable in your college education, you’re not really getting a college education.”

And, for one journalism student at the school, the idea of being labeled proved a little too uncomfortable.

In an article about the teacher’s policy, the student writes:

Clearly, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Butler University believes its students were raised as racist and misogynist homophobes who have grown to harbor many prejudices, a stance that is both offensive and hostile to any student’s ability to learn.

As a student at an institution predominantly focused on the liberal arts, I expected to hear professors express opinions different from my own. I did not expect to be judged before I ever walked through the door, and did not think I would be forced to agree with my teachers’ worldviews or suffer the consequences.

Being judged and forced to act a certain way is antithetical to how any institution of higher education should conduct itself.

As a journalism major, I will now strive to avoid the liberal arts college as much as possible, not because the college fails to provide its students with any practical knowledge, but because the college seeks to indoctrinate its students with a hostile paradigm that views people like me—an American, white, heterosexual male from a middle-class background—as evil; whitey-righty need not attend.

The policy does beg the question: Does the professor not feel it is important to ask black students to leave their blackness at the door, Hispanic students to leave their ethnicity, gay students to leave their gayness? If we’re going to pretend it is about making people uncomfortable to expand our horizons, shouldn’t we all be uncomfortable?

Of course, as California State University Long Beach professor Kevin MacDonald recently learned, suggesting that being white, straight or middle-class should not come with some antique guilt will not make you popular in the field of higher education.

_______________________________________________________________________
Update: Article corrected for proper location of Butler University.

Conservatism In The GOP Is Dead

As details about the Republican and Democratic negotiations over the impending fiscal cliff continue to come out, some prominent conservatives are saying that they will shun the GOP if Republican lawmakers sign a deal that raises taxes.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, it became evident that many of the self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives are far more willing to raise taxes than they allowed supporters to believe. Led by neocon standard-bearer Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), at least six top Republicans renounced previous pledges to never raise taxes. Some of those lawmakers, like Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Senator-elect Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), actually restated their no-tax promises as recently as last month while campaigning for re-election.

Now, as other Republicans consider bending to Democratic wishes with regard to taxes since members of neither party are willing to consider real reforms in the way of social welfare and military spending, some conservative backers are upset.

Conservative activist and Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell says he will steer donors away from the GOP if Republican lawmakers agree to raise taxes. In a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Bozell urged the Party to do everything in its power to avoid new taxes.

From the letter: “Reince, it pains me to say this, but if the Republican Party breaks its word to the American people and goes along with President Obama with tax increases, it will have betrayed conservatives for the final time.

“I will make it my mission to ensure that every conservative donor to the Republican Party that I have worked with for the last three decades — and there are many and they have given tens of millions to Republican causes — gives not one penny more to the Republican Party or any member of Congress that votes for tax increases.”

Albuquerque Cops Investigated For Misconduct

In the past two years, police officers in Albuquerque, N.M., were involved in a string of shootings and high-profile brutality cases that have prompted the Justice Department to investigate for signs of unConstitutional abuses of power.

Officers in the Albuquerque Police Department have been involved in 25 shootings, and 17 of them have been fatal. Incidents have also been reported, including some caught on video, of the officers using excessive force and beating suspects who were in custody or had already surrendered.

“We have concluded that a full Civil Rights investigation is warranted to determine whether APD engages in a pattern of practices of violations of the Constitution or federal law,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, told reporters this week. “In particular the investigation will focus on use of force by APD, including but not limited to deadly force.”

The Chief Ray Schultz told the Albuquerque Journal that he felt the investigation was unwarranted and that the department was making needed changes to its policies.

“Our officers are of the highest quality, and receive excellent training. However, we know that we are not always perfect and that there is always room for improvement,” Schultz said in a statement. “The Albuquerque Police Department has demonstrated our commitment to the city and to our citizens. We look forward to working with the [Justice Department] investigative team and its panel of experts and identifying any additional steps that we can take to improve our department and our community.”

The accusations against the police force in Albuquerque are not isolated to that city, however. There are increasing reports about police throughout the Nation abusing power or using excessive force as departments become increasingly militarized.

Thursday Morning News Roundup 11-29-2012

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

  • According to figures from the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization, global warming has been stalled since 1988.
  • A new study suggests that the Guantanamo Bay detention center could be closed and the inmates it houses put in domestic prisons without harming U.S. security.
  • The U.S. Postal Service says it can survive if it is allowed to ease the terms of prepayments into a retiree healthcare fund and eliminate general mail delivery on Saturday.
  • Many companies are making early payouts to their shareholders in an attempt to ease worries over the tripling of dividend tax rates next year that could result from the Nation running off its fiscal cliff.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Obama, Republicans Post-Campaign Campaigning Over Taxes

President Barack Obama and failed Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will meet today for the first time since the election for a private lunch at the White House.

During his victory speech, Obama told supporters that he would meet with Romney so that the two could share ideas about how Republicans and Democrats could possibly work together in order to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the Nation.

“In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward,” Obama said.

The Associated Press reports that the two have no clear agenda for the meeting but alludes to possible discussion about the looming fiscal cliff and what to do about the soon-expiring tax cuts passed by President George W. Bush. During the campaign season, Obama and Romney contrasted sharply on the issue of the cuts as the President’s Republican challenger disavowed the Administration’s plan to allow the cuts to expire.

The President has in recent weeks embarked on a post-campaign campaign of sorts in an attempt to ease Republican dissent against his tax plan.

“Right now, as we speak, Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. Everybody’s. And that means that 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime. Ninety-eight percent of Americans, 97 percent of small businesses would not see their income taxes go up by a single dime,” Obama said at the White House Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans launched a series of attacks against the President for his continued campaigning about taxes even after the election has finished.

“Rather than sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement he is back on the campaign trail presumably with the same old talking points that we are all quite familiar with,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor last week, alluding to Obama plans to talk about taxes with business owners throughout the Nation. “We already know the president is a very good campaigner. We congratulate him on his re-election. What we don’t know is whether he has the leadership qualities necessary to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement on big issues like we currently face.”

Issa Suggests Ban On Internet Legislation, Online Eyebrows Rise

Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has proposed a bill that could allow Internet freedom advocates a little bit of time to regroup and build a stronger framework to combat the Federal government’s continuous crusade to gain undisputed control over the Internet. But it could be a Trojan horse.

Issa’s proposal, The Internet American Moratorium Act (IAMA), was released in an online draft earlier this week for public discussion. The bill would enact a two-year ban on burdensome Internet regulation from Congress and the Administration of Barack Obama, effectively barring any new burdensome regulation from the government.

Issa followed the release of his draft bill with an “Ask Me Anything” session on the popular online community Reddit, during which he fielded questions from users who called into question his devotion to Internet freedom.

Issa has been an outspoken critic of such Internet regulation bills as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), both of which established ways by which Federal and private sector collusion could chill online free speech for everyday Internet users while also allowing for dissemination of private information to government agencies.

The Congressman did, however, support and vote in favor of the also unpopular Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which led to a backlash from Internet users that proved its Congressional undoing.

Asked about his support for that initiative by a Reddit user, Issa answered in part:

CISPA was not a secret. And when you compare its development to the normal legislative process, it can’t accurately be described as “rushed though.” But it all started by establishing clear policy goals and broad legislative principles. On June 24, 2011, the Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Cantor created a Cybersecurity Task Force to make recommendations and coordinate among the nine House committees with significant jurisdiction on cybersecurity issues. In particular they focused on four areas:

  1. Critical Infrastructure and Incentives
  2. Information Sharing and Public-Private Partnerships
  3. Updating Existing Cybersecurity Laws
  4. Legal Authorities

This taskforce, made up of nine members of Congress and their staffs, met with numerous experts, associations, industry groups, privacy groups and federal agencies, in addition to their counterparts in the Senate and the White House. On October 5, 2011 the House Cybersecurity Task Force released its recommendations to the public. The recommendations reinforced concerns that Internet-based companies and critical infrastructure networks are either being hacked or are extremely vulnerable to hacking by entities both domestic and abroad. They also advocated for solutions that did not encumber the private sector with new regulations.

Issa said he believed that the benefits of CISPA outweighed the bill’s threat potential to personal privacy and free speech on the Internet, concerns the Electronic Frontier Foundation said last April were valid.

The White House criticized CISPA, which initially failed in Congress along with a handful of other Internet regulation bills, but recent reports indicate that executive branch officials are working on their own version of cyber regulation that would most likely be pushed into law via Presidential fiat.

Some of the Reddit questioners pointed this out during the online interview, indicating that the Issa initiative is merely a Trojan horse that would allow the Federal government to enact even more burdensome Internet laws while avoiding public outrage.

And, indeed, the current draft of the bill contains a national security exemption, permitting the President — after notifying Congress — to allow executive branch agencies “to promulgate rules that have otherwise been suspended” by the Act in order to address an “existential threat to the Internet.”

Female Service Members Sue For Combat Inclusion

A Federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday by four members of the armed forces seeks to put an end to the Pentagon’s longtime policy of barring women from serving in combat positions.

A 1994 policy bars women from being assigned to ground combat units. The units are smaller and considered more dangerous than those that currently allow female service members because they are often in heavy battle for longer periods of time than the other units.

Opponents of the ban say that women are already being killed or wounded in war, but are routinely not recognized for battleground experience taken into consideration for high pay and rank. It is also often unclear in modern warfare where the frontline in many military conflicts is, as suicide bombings and sniper ambushes are often the attacks of choice for America’s modern military foes. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 144 female troops have been killed and 860 wounded despite noncombat classification.

Opponents of the right of female troops to join ground combat units argue that women may lack some of the physical capabilities of their male counterparts in battle. Some military top brass also worry that lifting gender barriers in combat units could disrupt operations by providing distractions that otherwise would not exist for male or female soldiers.

From the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which helped the four service members file the discrimination suit: “Women make up more than 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel, yet the rule categorically excludes them from more than 200,000 positions, as well as from entire career fields? Consequently, commanders are stymied in their ability to mobilize their troops effectively.”

Wednesday Morning News Roundup 11-28-2012

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

  • Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday what most true conservatives have been saying for years: If Republicans don’t make their message about true freedom and smaller government, the party will cease to exist. Let in the Libertarians, or good riddance.
  • A new paper reveals what only the most economically illiterate don’t already understand: When tax rates go up, top earners move out. When Britain opted for a 50 percent top tax rate, two-thirds of the nation’s millionaires packed up and moved on.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Russian Columnist: Communism Has Won In America

An opinion column in the Russian newspaper Pravada says that President Barack Obama was re-elected by an “illiterate society” who voted for him.

The author of the piece, Xavier Lerma, calls out American voters who turned a blind eye to Obama’s failure to end illegal wars, “lies of less taxes while he raises them” and scandals like Fast and Furious, writing that communism has won in America:

Putin in 2009 outlined his strategy for economic success. Alas, poor Obama did the opposite but nevertheless was re-elected. Bye, bye Miss American Pie. The Communists have won in America with Obama but failed miserably in Russia with Zyuganov who only received 17% of the vote. Vladimir Putin was re-elected as President keeping the NWO order out of Russia while America continues to repeat the Soviet mistake.

After Obama was elected in his first term as president the then Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January of 2009. Ignored by the West as usual, Putin gave insightful and helpful advice to help the world economy and saying the world should avoid the Soviet mistake.

Recently, Obama has been re-elected for a 2nd term by an illiterate society and he is ready to continue his lies of less taxes while he raises them. He gives speeches of peace and love in the world while he promotes wars as he did in Egypt, Libya and Syria. He plans his next war is with Iran as he fires or demotes his generals who get in the way.

The piece draws comparison to the cult of personality of Joseph Stalin and Obama’s most ardent supporters. It warns that while Russia has been trudging a long, difficult road away from communist values, the United States is just beginning its journey of suffering.

Military-Industrial Complex Pushing Domestic Drones

There has been a great deal of talk about the implications of government using unmanned aerial drones over domestic airspace; a flood of applications for civilian drone permits, however, is raising new concerns.

According to reports, the Federal Aviation Administration believes that as many as 30,000 unmanned drones could fill American airspace within the next two decades. The unmanned vehicles could be used for anything from monitoring pipelines and power lines to private property surveillance.

Commercialization of unmanned drones produced by military-industrial complex frontrunners Lockheed Martin, Northrop Group, Boeing and General Atomics has been pushed by Congressional caucuses, namely the House Unmanned Systems Caucus. Members of the caucuses have received a reported $8 million in drone-related campaign contributions for their work in furthering the cause.

But the idea of the unmanned vehicles flying overhead at behest of corporate and private interests has raised some major safety and privacy concerns.

“Based on current trends, technology development, law enforcement interest, political and industry pressure, and the lack of legal safeguards – it is clear that drones pose a looming threat to Americans’ privacy,” Jay Stanley, a political analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told The San Francisco Chronicle in a recent interview.

The newspaper reported in the same story that the celebrity gossip website TMZ had even applied for a permit to fly a spy drone, though the FAA claimed it “does not have a permit” yet. TMZ later denied the accusation.

Ron Paul Doesn’t Need Your Rocking Chair

If big-spending Republicans and entitlement-loving Democrats thought Representative Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) exit from Congress at the end of the year was going to serve well to help shut up the crusaders against Keynesianism, they are dead wrong.

Paul, a famously vocal opponent of big government spending, indicated in a recent interview that he plans to continue to spread his message of fiscal responsibility and resistance of government intrusion; and he will be addressing a likely more receptive audience than the Congress he has spent more than three decades trying to persuade.

Speaking with reporters for The Hill, Paul said that he plans to continue working to shrink the size of American government by attempting to win hearts and minds at places that have long been considered strongholds of American liberalism: college campuses. Paul, despite being the oldest of GOP Presidential contenders in the last election, has already made vast inroads with American college students.

“I’m excited about spending more time on college campuses, not less. College campuses will still be on my agenda. That’s where the action is,” he said.  “The young people don’t like the debt they are inheriting, the violation of their civil liberties. They don’t like the war and it’s a fertile field. The people up here sort of ignore them.”

Anyone who has listened to Paul speak or read any of his books (End the Fed, The Revolution: A Manifesto and Liberty Defined, among others) can likely already imagine what his message will be as the campus tour gets under way. For those in need of a refresher, a recent interview at the Mises Supporters Summit with Amanda BillyRock, a promising young disciple of Austrian economics and liberty devotee, gives a sample of the message that may be in store.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEr_jrKEuvE&w=560&h=315]

Satire Be Damned, Fluke In Running For Time Person Of The Year

A Chinese news site got egg on its face when it failed to realize that satire news site The Onion was only joking when it named Kim Jong Un as the sexiest man of 2012. But some Americans are likely wondering if the once iconic Time magazine is taking cues from the satire site as well with its inclusion of Sandra Fluke as a contender to be named its Person of the Year.

Here’s what the magazine says about her:

The daughter of a conservative Christian pastor, Sandra Fluke, 31, became a women’s-rights activist in college and continued her advocacy as a law student at Georgetown. After she complained about being denied a chance to testify at a Republican-run House hearing on insurance coverage for birth control, Rush Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut.” Democrats and many Republicans reacted with outrage, and the left made Limbaugh’s slur Exhibit A in what they called a GOP “war on women.” Fluke, meanwhile, weathered the attention with poise and maturity and emerged as a political celebrity. Democrats gave her a national-convention speaking slot as part of their push to make reproductive rights a central issue in the 2012 presidential campaign — one that helped Barack Obama trounce Mitt Romney among single women on Election Day.

If being a pawn used to spark political meme war is one of the Time editors’ requirements for becoming the most influential people on Earth, Fluke certainly is a high achiever.

This author suggests a rewrite of the aforementioned biography as follows:

Sandra Fluke, 31, helped the Democratic Party to avert American voters’ attention from a failing economy, continued illegal wars and an ever-growing Federal government long enough to get the guy who promised to change things and failed miserably in his first term reelected. She did this by brilliantly confusing the more troglodytic among the GOP into believing that this election was more about unborn children than the economy and a growing government that will eventually make it useless to worry over the rights of potential fetuses, as it strips grown men of those rights that are God-given and Constitutionally guaranteed. By creating memes such as “War on Women,” the Democrats were able to use Fluke’s Congressional testament to promiscuity to highlight idiots like GOP Senatorial candidates Todd Akin and Richard Murdock, who insisted on discussing how forcible they felt a rape must be to be considered legitimate. This left little room for the fiscal conservative arm of the GOP to have its message of responsibility heard in any meaningful way, clearing the way for government to “legitimately” rape Americans worse than ever before.

At press time of this article, Fluke was trailing behind Kim Jong Un — also in the running for Time’s Person of the Year — in a reader poll on the magazine’s website. The poll has no bearing on who the editors choose. Who has money on Fluke?

Tuesday Morning News Roundup 11-27-2012

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

  • Most Americans are burned out on Presidential politics for now, but media are floating the idea of yet another Bush vying for the White House in 2016.
  • If Virginia is an indicator, crime rates throughout the Nation should begin to drop as gun sales throughout the country hit record highs.
  • President Barack Obama keeps saying the war in Afghanistan will come to an end in 2014. Tell that to the 10,000 troops that will remain in the country well past that date.
  • Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking the most state secrets in U.S. history, will speak publically this week for the first time since the Federal government locked him up in 2010.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

White House Says GOP Will Ruin Christmas

A new report from the White House says that members of the GOP in Congress will play the part of the Grinch for the Nation’s retailers this Christmas unless the lawmakers get on board with President Barack Obama’s fiscal plan.

A White House report released yesterday reads:

The National Retail Federation is forecasting that holiday sales will grow 4.1 percent this year … [but] if Congress does not act on the President’s plan to extend tax cuts for the middle-class, it will be risking one of the key contributors to growth and jobs in our economy at the most important time of the year for retail stores.

The holiday season is no time to threaten middle-class pocketbooks.

The report, titled “The Middle-Class Tax Cuts’ Impact On Consumer Spending & Retailers,” is aimed at increasing pressure on Congressional Republicans to back off of promises not to raise taxes on Americans in higher income brackets.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Monday that four noteworthy Republican lawmakers had broken with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist in recent days. Senators Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Representative Peter King (N.Y.) all said they will not be bound by Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge as Congress moves toward the looming fiscal cliff battle.

Alabama Legislator Wants Guns In The Workplace

An Alabama legislator is pushing previously proposed legislation that would make it legal for employees to carry and store handguns at work for protection.

State Senator Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) said his bill will increase the safety of Alabamians working at private businesses as well as when they’re traveling to and from work.

The bill, which has failed in the past despite support from the National Rifle Association, aims to prevent employers from barring their employees from transporting and storing guns during work hours on company property. It would also mandate that those who opt to bring a firearm to work keep it locked away and out of sight. The bill doesn’t provide for guns to be allowed on school campuses or anywhere else where they are already prohibited by Federal law.

According to The Montgomery Advertiser, the Business Council of Alabama has opposed the measure.

The group’s president, Bill Canary, said in an interview: “At a time when the business community in all sectors should be focused on creating jobs, we instead are dealing with this unnecessary legislation which erodes the constitutional property rights of businesses. Alabama businesses are already struggling with burdensome regulations that impact productivity and increase costs.”

Some supporters of the measure, however, have pointed out dismal crime statistics in Birmingham (the State’s largest city) as an example of why the bill could benefit Alabamians. In 2011, there were 54 murders, 182 cases of rape, 1,011 robberies and 1,916 aggravated assaults recorded in the city, earning it No. 7 among the Nation’s top 25 most dangerous cities. About 15 violent crimes took place per 1,000 Birmingham residents that year.

Utah Man Who Shot SWAT Agent Can’t Claim Home Defense

A Utah man who alleges he killed a police officer serving a “knock and announce” warrant because he thought armed assailants had kicked in his door to rob him will likely not be able to use a “defense of habitation,” legal experts say.

Mathew David Stewart is on trial for a gun battle that erupted in his home during a SWAT raid conducted by a local police “strike force.” According to reports from The Salt Lake Tribune, the raid resulted after Stewart’s ex-girlfriend called a local “tip-a-cop” hotline to report that the man had a marijuana-growing operation in his basement. It is reported that she “could not recall” whether she also told the officer that Stewart was against government intrusion and “if the police ever came to his house he would go out shooting.”

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

Agents testified that they went to Stewart’s home at around 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 4 and announced themselves before breaking through the door and entering. The agents testified they were all wearing some sort of police identifier, whether it was a jacket with the word “police” written in bold, a bulletproof vest with “police” printed on it, or a fleece vest with police insignia embroidered on the chest.

Stewart told the paper, however, that he believed he was the victim of a home invasion. “When you’re convinced that you are getting robbed and most likely killed by a group of armed men, your instincts kick in,” he said.

His defense attorneys have also questioned whether the agents properly identified themselves as police and were easily recognizable as agents of the State because many of them wear long hair and beards.

Stewart allegedly told an investigator that he had armed himself when he heard someone enter his home. He allegedly said he pointed his gun around the corner of his bedroom hallway, at which point he was met with gunfire. The man alleges that he then fired the weapon.

The SWAT team members, however, allege that Stewart fired first. He remains charged with aggravated murder, seven first-degree felony counts of attempted aggravated murder and one second-degree felony count related to alleged marijuana cultivation stemming from the reported finding of 16 plants and a bag of marijuana in his basement.

Read more about the case here and here.

Monday Morning News Roundup 11-26-2012

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

  • Cyberspying is becoming the modus operandi for America’s vast law enforcement apparatus, but it isn’t as high tech a process as one might think. The FBI has taken to trolling Twitter for tips about insider trading and securities fraud.
  • The Supreme Court has cleared the way for challenges to President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare plan in the case of Liberty University v. Geithner. The suit challenges the individual and employer mandates to have insurance coverage.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Slate Writer Takes Lefty Critics Of Rubio Creationist Remarks To Task

In a recent column, the left-leaning Slate pointed out the hypocrisy of liberal attacks against Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio for his assertion in a magazine interview that he really wasn’t sure how old the planet was.

The article reads:

By now you’ve heard the outrageous quote from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on his doubts about the origins of planet Earth. When asked to give its age, he replied: “I’m not a scientist, man. … Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.”

He’s not a scientist—no, indeed—and his comments have brought on a slew of finger wags and face-palms from the godless left. The answer was “so confused and error-riddled,” wrote Phil Plait in Slate, “it’s difficult to know where to start.” We all should understand the age of Earth is not a matter of opinion, but a scientific fact: Our planet formed 4.54 billion years ago. If Rubio suggested otherwise, it’s because he’s uninformed or stupid.

But unlike many of Rubio’s other attackers from the left, the author of the article, Slate’s Daniel Engber, points out another scientifically and religiously willfully ignorant commenter on the subject of Earth’s origins.

Here’s how President Barack Obama answered a question about whether he believed God created the world in six days at a 2008 speaking engagement:

I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that’s what I believe. I know there’s always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don’t, and I think it’s a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I’m a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don’t presume to know.

And here’s Rubio’s answer from the December 2012 edition of GQ regarding how old he believes the Earth to be:

I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.

With looming financial calamity, global war only a button away at any given time and a near constant assault by the Federal government against American civil liberties, should the populace really care at all about how either of these guys believe we got here in the first place?

Hat Tip: Slate