Ron Paul’s Victory

Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s mission to conduct a broad audit of the Federal Reserve moved a little closer to fruition on Wednesday.

The House oversight committee voted Wednesday to demand a broad audit of the Federal Reserve System by Congressional investigators in relation to a bill sponsored by Paul.

The bill was passed by a voice vote and will now advance to consideration in the full House.

“Clearly the Fed must be made too big to fail, and too big to fail requires a considerable amount of oversight,” said Representative Darrell E. Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the committee, according to The Washington Times.

Paul’s bill has garnered 257 co-sponsors from both parties and would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a full audit of the Federal Reserve’s operations, including its monetary policy deliberations.

Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) attempted to introduce an amendment that would prevent the GAO from auditing the Fed’s deliberations on monetary policy, but withdrew the attempt after Issa said it would “gut the bill.”

“This whole idea about ‘Well, we can’t touch the Fed’ is baloney,” said Representative Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio). “We have to be able to have control over the Fed because it’s controlling every aspect of our economy.”

Guns Didn’t Kill, Bureaucrats Did

Gun control advocate Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) made a strong case for 2nd Amendment rights on Tuesday; it was, in fact, the same case that gun rights activists have been making for years.

According to The Hill, Hoyer unleashed the following diatribe on Capitol Hill reporters while discussing the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, the man killed in 2010 by members of a Mexican drug cartel armed with weapons that “walked” into Mexico as part of the failed Fast and Furious initiative:

“The premise is that somehow letting these guns go across the border resulted in this tragic death,” Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol. “[But] people kill people, not guns, I’m told on a regular basis.

“And controlling guns — whether it’s assault weapons or others — would not solve the problem, I am told by some,” he added, referring to gun-reform critics. “So such legislation is not necessary because it is people who kill people. I hope you see the contradiction in the positions being taken.

“The fact of the matter is this life was tragically lost because there are some criminals on both sides of the border who facilitate violent criminal behavior,” Hoyer said.

In Hoyer’s view, Congressional Republicans’ focus on the guns that were used to kill Terry and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata is misplaced and the focus should be on the criminals that killed him. The Representative is right in noting that the men were killed by criminals.

Unfortunately for Hoyer, his careless remarks in trying to spin the Border Patrol agent’s death as a rebuttal to gun control critics come off as ill-informed at best and, at worst, downright insidious.

Perhaps Hoyer could have borrowed another familiar refrain that is used by 2nd Amendment advocates each time stricter and unConstitutional gun control laws are proposed: In many places, already existing gun regulations that keep firearms out of the hands of criminals without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun advocates already exist.

And when guns do get into the hands of criminals, law enforcement authorities often come down hard on the people who run legitimate gun businesses.

  • In Randolph County, Ind., agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives raided the Federally licensed gun shop of Charles “Fred” Ludington in April of last year, because they believed he had committed record-keeping offenses. This April, Ludington was sentenced to serve four years in Federal prison for selling firearms to a convicted felon and an out-of-State resident. A judge also ordered him to forfeit the 4,276 firearms, nearly 600,000 rounds of ammunition and more than $159,000 in cash seized by ATF from his shop in April of 2011.
  • Paul Copeland, a Vietnam Veteran and Texas-based gun seller, was sentenced to prison time and two years of probation by a Federal court in 2010 for selling a gun to an undocumented alien, Hipolito Aviles, at the Texas Gun Show in Austin. The alien was not charged in the case.
  • A New Mexico family of gun sellers was arrested in August of last year, on charges of knowingly selling guns to Mexican smugglers and various other related charges. Rick Reese and his two sons Ryin and Remington have been in jail for nearly a year, denied bond because a judge found that they may be a flight risk or attempt to barricade themselves on their property, which has a well for water and solar power, in a Ruby Ridge-style standoff. Their charges involve about 30 guns. Find out more about the bizarre case against them here.

All of these individuals have been deemed criminals by the Federal government, and a simple Google search yields hundreds more stories just like these.

So if gun control advocates like Hoyer want people to focus less on the guns and more on the criminals in the case of Fast and Furious, Congressional Republicans on the House oversight committee should take note of the policies adopted by the likes of Bloomberg and the ATF. These policies have made criminals of people who have simply sold guns, often unwittingly, to individuals who wanted them for criminal purposes.

Evidence suggests that the Justice Department assisted in the illegal sales of more than 2,000 firearms, some of which were used in deadly crimes. Unfortunately, there has been no serious talk about holding the people who were responsible for this crime accountable in court, and the President is complicit in covering up damning evidence.

A thorough investigation holding the gun pushers within the Justice Department to the same standard as the above mentioned gun sellers, however, would likely result in arrests leading all the way to the Oval Office.

Tune Out The ‘Impostures Of Pretended Patriotism’

Independence Day is just a week away, and political language, especially that of the election year back and forth, is awash with patriotic memes.

At a campaign event on Monday, President Barack Obama provided a familiar narrative about why people are willing to pay more taxes: because they love their country.

Obama said, “[T]here are plenty of patriotic, successful Americans all across the country — I meet them every day — who’d be willing to make this contribution again because they understand there is such a thing as the common good. They understand that we’re in this thing together.”

Many conservatives are appalled by the President’s understanding of patriotism and how it relates to “the common good.” But he isn’t the only one throwing the word around. In a recent article, Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, skewered Republicans who use the word in a different sense.

Reich writes:

Recently I publicly debated a regressive Republican who said Arizona and every other state should use whatever means necessary to keep out illegal immigrants. He also wants English to be spoken in every classroom in the nation, and the pledge of allegiance recited every morning. “We have to preserve and protect America,” he said. “That’s the meaning of patriotism.”

He goes on to assail members of the GOP for substituting “partisanship for patriotism” and for believing that unless it fits into their agenda, no motive can be patriotic.

He concludes:

Their patriotism is not about coming together for the common good. It is about excluding outsiders who they see as our common adversaries.

Former Speaker of the House and failed GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich quipped earlier this month about his view of American’s patriotic duty.

“We want to make it clear in a calm, pleasant but direct way: Barack Obama and the values he represents and the amateurish incompetence he has proven are a direct threat to the survival of America as we know it — and defeating him is a national, patriotic duty,” Gingrich said.

As Americans make plans for fireworks and barbeques next week with all of this talk from the political sphere about what is or isn’t patriotic buzzing in the background, a columnist for Michigan’s The Muskegon Chronicle, Steve Gunn, offers a little perspective in arguing for the Pledge of Allegiance in American schools:

Back in far better days, some things, like patriotism, remained above politics.

Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, union members and management all shared a love and appreciation of the United States of America and the fundamental freedom it stands for.

If patriotism is not what America’s politicians have co-opted the term to mean, and if the citizenry is unable to turn to its leaders for a clear idea of the best ways to express love for one’s country without adhering to political paradigms, perhaps history is a good place to turn for a patriotic self-revival.

Here are some ways you might learn to be more patriotic in the week preceding the celebration of our Nation’s independence.

  1. Read a copy of the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States. Hillsdale College, a longtime advocate of the American Founders’ vision, offers free printable versions here. Hillsdale has even mounted a “Read the Declaration” campaign to encourage millions of Americans to read and discuss the founding document with friends and family this Fourth of July.
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  3. Take some time to better understand the story behind our Nation’s founding. Why did the men who created our Nation fight so passionately? What would have happened had they failed? Are there similarities between what our country has become and the tyranny they fought against? At the website Revolutionary War and Beyond, you can access thousands of historical documents related to our Nation’s founding and learn why revolution was vital, in the words of our Founders.
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  5. The United States is currently not in the best shape in history. Modern problems ranging from a poor economy to serious political disagreements on social issues keep many Americans in a state of perpetual political polarization. This benefits no one but the political establishment of both the left and the right. With the help of the Internet, you can find that many of these problems are not new. America has seen crises, social tension and poverty before. Take off your political blinders and do some research about how some of our Nation’s problems were solved in the past.

Whether you call yourself Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or independent or you are defined by other political beliefs, your patriotism likely transcends your political ideology and represents more a feeling of gratitude to reside in a Nation whose citizens have the freedom to agree to disagree. Learning about the blood and sweat that begot that freedom and how that freedom has been used throughout the years to better the Nation is certainly more productive than allowing the President, Gingrich and political commentators to soil the true meaning of patriotism. After all, in a free country what it means to be a patriot is up to you to decide; and George Washington, our Nation’s first President, warned Americans about those who would seek to do it for you in his farewell address:

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

Law Enforcement’s War On American Insurgents

In the small rural town of Mayberry, Sheriff Andy Taylor didn’t even see a reason to carry a gun while he policed the townspeople in the iconic American television program The Andy Griffith Show.

Of course, that was a television show, and it aired during what some people may argue was a simpler time in America’s modern history — a time when a small-town sheriff in a town like Mayberry would not need a gun except in the most extraordinary circumstances. Others have argued that Taylor didn’t carry a gun in the show because its producers were pushing an anti-gun Communist message.

Whatever the reason, reports of how many small-town law enforcement agencies have now become armed to the teeth with military-grade weaponry make it certain that an unarmed sheriff like Taylor would not make a believable character today.

Personal Liberty Digest™ has run a number of stories in recent months that describe increasingly militaristic tactics and armament among local police departments. With the help of organizations like the CATO Institute and its police misconduct website, there have also been stories about law enforcement officers who have fallen short of their promise to “serve and protect” and have abused authority and committed crimes both against individuals and the Constitution.

WIRED’s “Danger Room” blog, in a post yesterday, pointed out that over the past five years through the “Department of Defense Excess Property Program,” small-town law enforcement agencies have increasingly been the biggest beneficiaries of surplus military gear.

Here’s some of what is revealed:

  • A 50-officer police department in Oxford, Ala., a town of 20,000 people, has received about $3 million worth of military equipment including M-16s, helmet-mounted infrared goggles and a tank-like armored vehicle called a Puma.
  • The Nebraska State Patrol has three amphibious eight-wheeled tanks.
  • Police in Lebanon, Tenn., where fewer than 30,000 people live, have acquired $4 million worth of military equipment, including weapons and heavy equipment like bulldozers and truck loaders, as well as an LAV 150 armored car.
  • The Fairmont Police Department in northern Georgia, a department that serves about 7,000 residents, received 17,145 items from the military in the past five years.
  • Police in Issaquah, Wash., a town of 30,000 people, acquired more than 37,000 pieces of gear.

Two concerns have been raised by critics of the military arming of community police departments:

  1. Even though this equipment is bought on the cheap, officers in such small communities — much like Sheriff Taylor — seldom find use for tanks and assault rifles that have to be stored and maintained at a cost to the taxpayer.
  2. Often, the officers who will be operating this equipment once it has been acquired are poorly trained and are sometimes overly eager to use such military weaponry in situations when it could cause more harm than good.

The Defense surplus program was partially suspended in May, when it was revealed that an Arizona police department was caught selling some of the equipment it acquired to non-law enforcement agencies to pad its budget. However, departments still can get grants for military equipment through a Federal anti-terror initiative put in place after the 9/11 attacks. Since its inception, the grant program has racked up nearly $34 billion, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Whether Americans think military equipment in the hands of law enforcement is good or bad, it appears to be here to stay. One increasingly popular military-turned-law-enforcement piece of equipment is the drone. Most of the drones that American law enforcement agencies employ are small and resemble remote control helicopters more than military equipment.

But last year, police in Lakota, N.D., used a Predator drone owned by the Department of Homeland security to conduct the first drone-assisted arrest in the Nation. Rodney Brossart and his family face a number of criminal charges related to a conflict they got into with law enforcement officers after six cows from a neighboring farm wandered onto their 3,000-acre ranch. After refusing to return the cows and a subsequent standoff with police, the drone was launched to watch the movements of Brossart and his family while a SWAT team rushed in to arrest the bunch.

Brossart’s lawyer Bruce Quick argued in court earlier in the month that “the warrantless use of unmanned surveillance aircraft” was unlawful on 4th Amendment grounds. Citing “outrageous governmental conduct, unlawful surveillance, illegal seizures and searches, unconstitutional application of North Dakota law, vindictive prosecution, and other statutory and constitutional injury” the attorney has asked a judge to dismiss charges in the (as far as law enforcement drones are concerned) possibly precedent-setting case. A ruling on whether the charges will be dismissed is expected within the next few days.

Retiring Congressman: The Public Is Dumber Now

The people are getting dumber.

That was the message from retiring Representative Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) when asked about the difference in cooperation across the aisle in Congress and how it has changed during his 30 years as a lawmaker.

“Congressman Ackerman, you’ve been here 30 years. Can you define comity as it existed when you arrived versus how it exists now?” Bloomberg Businessweek asked him.

Ackerman’s response: “Your premise is that comity exists now. It may not be entirely accurate. It used to be you had real friends on the other side of the aisle. It’s not like that anymore. Society has changed. The public is to blame as well. I think the people have gotten dumber. I don’t know that I would’ve said that out loud pre-my announcement that I was going to be leaving. [Laughter] But I think that’s true. I mean everything has changed. The media has changed. We now give broadcast licenses to philosophies instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment. People who project themselves as journalists on television don’t know the first thing about journalism. They are just there stirring up a hockey game.”

While Ackerman’s statements may anger some, there is evidence to show that on a broad scale he is correct.

A few years ago, The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned a civic education poll among public high school students. They learned that 77 percent of the students didn’t know that George Washington was the first President, and 86 percent couldn’t name Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence. If they were administered a U.S. Citizenship Test only about 3 percent of the high school students would have been able to pass.

Newsweek gave the U.S. Citizenship Test to 1,000 Americans last year—38 percent failed. Twenty-nine percent couldn’t name Joe Biden as the Vice President. Another 73 percent didn’t know what the Cold War was about.

Of course Ackerman and his colleagues in Congress are also getting dumber, according to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation. Using the Flesch-Kincaid test, which equates higher grade levels with longer words and longer sentences, to examine Congressional speeches the Institute found that Congress collectively speaks to the public at a 10.6 grade level. In 2005 they were at 11.5. Ackerman did, however, manage a personal grade level of 12.07.

Four Stories About Stupid Gun Laws

Humans are very distinct from other creatures in their ability to perfect the use of tools to improve quality of life. Even more remarkable of man, however, is our willingness to restrict the use of even our most valuable tools in the name of “safety.”

Firearms have for the past few hundred years been one of man’s most useful tools. America’s Founding Fathers realized this and held gun ownership in such a high regard that they opted to include it in the country’s Constitution.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Here are four things that the men who wrote those words knew, that modern anti-gun zealots in the United States and abroad can’t seem to understand:

#1— Guns are extremely useful in deterring criminals who would otherwise steal from you and likely injure or kill you in the process. That is why Keyna Oduyoye, 30, of Randallstown, Md., brought her registered .40 caliber Beretta handgun along when she carried $4,000 to meet with a person selling a car on Craigslist. When she and her boyfriend arrived, they were robbed by the people they met.

From The Baltimore Sun:

She told police she grabbed a .40 caliber Beretta from the glove compartment of her car and fired a warning shot in the air. The gunman dropped his weapon, she told police, according to court charging documents, and then she chased the man up the street firing three times in the air.

Though she managed to keep herself from being possibly murdered by her armed assailants after having her money stolen, Oduyoye was jailed last week on $35,000 bond. She is charged with having a handgun on her person and in her car, reckless endangerment and discharging a firearm on a public street. Even though her gun was registered, because of Maryland’s restrictive carry permit laws she is a criminal in the eyes of the law.

#2— The bad guys are never going to give up their guns, and there is nothing even the most restrictive nanny governments can do about it. Case in point, New York City. Even with liberty assaulting police tactics like “stop and frisk” that allow New York cops to search just about anyone they want to on the street, gangsters still have access to guns.

From the New York Post:

Ruthless gangbangers are drawing on lessons from kindergarten — adopting policies of “share and share alike” when it comes to their illegal handguns, cops said yesterday.

“People aren’t carrying around their own guns anymore, they’re sharing them and stashing them,” said Detective Joseph Cruzado of the Queens gang squad.

“Four, five years ago, we’d see almost every gang member carrying their own gun. You don’t see that anymore.”

Now criminals in the city simply stash weapons in secret locations — such as bushes — so that other members of their organizations can retrieve the weapons when needed.

Good luck finding a weapon stash if you find yourself on the wrong end of a criminal’s barrel.

#3— Guns have uses that are in no way related to crime. This story comes from Manitoba, Canada but explains a problem that many American farmers and ranchers also deal with. Because of restrictive laws aimed at protecting wildlife from poachers, farmers in the province are unable to legally defend their cattle from predators.

The Wildlife Act, which governs hunting in Manitoba, says hunters may kill wildlife on their own land to defend property. But the following restrictions apply: can’t hunt at night or use lighting or reflecting equipment when hunting; can’t use poison to trap or kill wild animals; can’t have a loaded gun in a vehicle; and can’t fire a gun from a vehicle.

That causes real problems for farmers like Henry Hendrickson.

From Winnipeg Free Press:

In one year, the farmer raises 300 cattle and loses between 10 and 12 to predators: coyotes and wolves, mostly.

Hendrickson would like to protect his herd by hunting the predators, but the laws make it difficult. For example, coyotes are nocturnal creatures, but laws governing gun use prevent farmers from hunting at night. They also can’t legally shoot from a moving vehicle, even though vehicles are the only way to keep pace with fleet-footed coyotes and wolves.

#4 Governments are capable of doing some pretty terrible things to helpless populations. Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, who is currently running for a Senate seat in Ohio, is taking heat for releasing the following ad recently:


 
But, in a Nation where armed bureaucrats continuously raid farms because of raw milk sales, the police are becoming ever-increasingly militarized and abuse of power seeps from town halls, Congress, the Justice Department and the White House, people who want a defenseless American populace would likely do well to heed the warnings of history.

Land Of The Inmate

The United States, land of the free, is home to a staggering 1.6 million State and Federal prisoners.

That number, recorded in 2010 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has some people wondering if we live in a Nation of criminals. But the evidence suggests that government largess—and the profiteers who run the privatized American prisons where 128,195 U.S. inmates reside—may have as much to do with incarceration as crime does.

The Times-Picayune in Louisiana recently published an eight-part report detailing how that State incarcerates more people than any other place in the world. One out of 86 adult Louisiana residents live behind bars— that is three times more people than are jailed in Iran and seven times as many as China, the paper reports.

Throughout the series, reporters describe Louisiana prisoners as “vehicles for profit” and explain that powerful prison lobbies have blocked reforms to the State’s multi-million dollar prison industry. While Louisiana may have the most prisoners, it certainly isn’t the only place in the Nation where incarceration is big business.

ProPublica breaks down the numbers in a recent report:

Corrections Corporation of America

66: number of facilities owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest private prison company based on number of facilities

91,000: number of beds available in CCA facilities across 20 states and the District of Columbia

$1.7 billion: total revenue recorded by CCA in 2011

$17.4 million: lobbying expenditures in the last 10 years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics

$1.9 million: total political contributions from years 2003 to 2012, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics

$3.7 million: executive compensation for CEO Damon T. Hininger in 2011

The Geo Group, Inc., the U.S.’s second largest private detention company

$1.6 billion: total revenue in year 2011, according to its annual report

65: number of domestic correctional facilities owned and operated by Geo Group, Inc.

65,716: number of beds available in Geo Group, Inc.’s domestic correctional facilities

$2.5 million: lobbying expenditures in the last 8 years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics

$2.9 million: total political contributions from years 2003 to 2012, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics

$5.7 million: executive compensation for CEO George C. Zoley in 2011

The millions the prison-industrial complex spends on lobbying each year is heavily focused on ensuring that medicinal marijuana reform is stalled, and in more recent years has been used to push for stricter immigration laws. The Huffington Post reports that illegal aliens make up the fastest growing segment of the U.S. prison population.

While many Americans may favor harsh laws regarding immigration and drugs, the prison-industrial complex also routinely lobbies for draconian laws across the board. According to a Justice Policy Institute report, corruption of the judicial system can also result.

The extent to which corporate campaign contributions influence elected officials‟ decision-making is a matter of much debate. But in one recent case, a private juvenile correctional facility crossed the line, making outright payments to judges in a clear quid pro quo with tragic results.

In Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, two local private youth prisons made illegal payments to two judges totaling over $2.6 million. In what came to be known as the “kids for cash” scandal, the Mid Atlantic Youth Service Corporation paid the judges for sentencing youth to confinement in their two private youth prisons. It is estimated that over 5,000 children appeared before the two judges over the past decade, and half of those who waived their right to counsel were sentenced to serve time in one of the private correctional facilities. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, privately owned corporations operate more than 50 percent of youth correctional facilities in the United States.

The Institute reports that the prison companies are routinely in talks with judges, legislators and law enforcement agencies to encourage policies that drive-up incarceration rates throughout the Nation.

Berkeley Moves To Reduce Police State

The City Council in Berkeley, Calif., has decided to move to do away with some post-9/11 police powers that assault civil liberties. Those powers made it easier for local, State and Federal authorities to spy on citizens and share information.

The Council began investigating the need for reforms following questions about why police officers were being used to control demonstrators during Occupy protests.

According to Contra Costa Times, the council decided this week to approve recommendations that would make it more difficult for police to report suspected terrorists and criminals to Federal authorities. Another provision restricts police from gathering intelligence about people who are engaged in nonviolent, non-felonious civil disobedience.

They also moved to stop police from holding some people the Federal government wants in jail for immigration violations. The new policy would prohibit the police department from holding prisoners beyond their normal release for the Federal government, unless they have been convicted of a violent or felonious crime in the preceding five days.

The City Council also says it wants police to follow stricter guidelines when they decide to report people they deem suspicious to the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. The center shares information with local police departments and Federal authorities. The intelligence-sharing hub was created following the Sept. 11 attacks and is one of 50 throughout the Nation.

Obama Gets Involved In Fast And Furious

In a bid to stall a contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder, President Barack Obama on Wednesday invoked executive privilege to withhold documents and communications related to the failed gun enforcement operation known as Fast and Furious.

An investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has Holder on the verge of being held in contempt of Congress for not turning over all documents investigators feel are pertinent to the operation.

On Tuesday, Holder sent a letter to Obama claiming that a release of the documents “would raise substantial separation of powers concerns and potentially create an imbalance in the relationship” between the Legislative and Executive branches.

Obama has never used executive privilege during his Presidency, but it has been used throughout U.S. history to preserve the confidentiality of information in the face of legislative inquiries.

Committee Chairman Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the White House use of executive privilege “falls short” of any reason to delay the contempt hearing and, after the President’s assertion, the committee moved ahead with discussion of the contempt citation.

Republicans say Obama’s move is proof that the White House has something to hide regarding Fast and Furious.

Governed By Decadence

It is no secret that Americans have a bad habit of becoming enthralled by and making celebrities of many people who could be described as intellectually deficient, at best, and despicable, at worst.

Just take a look at the individuals that many young people throughout the Nation believe they should attempt to emulate.

There are “Teen Moms” on MTV who — with the help of a few thousand dollars per episode — make teen pregnancy look easy. They live in high-priced apartments and have fancy cars, minimum wage jobs and children; that sounds like reality. Also on that channel are the enterprising young hooligans who have misrepresented the New Jersey Italian-American community while binge drinking and “smushing” on “The Jersey Shore.” A few channels away, we find Kim Kardashian, who has managed to make a mockery of the institution of marriage in order to turn a hefty profit. Or, if music is your taste, you could simply flip through a few top 40 radio stations to hear music that encourages you to be an oversexed, uneducated thug. Or a bum. Or a pimp. Or a whatever.

But before you criticize the youths of the Nation for lapping up this filth and go on a self-righteous diatribe about the merits of watching C-SPAN, consider the filthy characters to whom you are turning for answers. Many of your policymakers could likely get their own hit shows on MTV.

Actually, a better idea: C-SPAN should simply change its programming lineup to better suit the decadent nature of a Nation in decline. This would likely be a great way to get more brain-dead Americans to tune in to the network, and it may even get more youngsters interested in how government works (or why it hasn’t for a long time). Besides, no one has time to sit and watch Congressional speeches, and they don’t give us a good look at who the people running and working for our Nation really are. So here are some suggestions a new C-SPAN programming lineup:

“Secrets of the Secret Service”

Don’t let the name of this hot new reality show fool you; we’re not interested in knowing about who really killed John F. Kennedy or where they keep the aliens. “Secrets of the Secret Service” will document the exploits of the men charged with protecting our country’s highest leader as they tend to the more important aspects of their jobs. Get ready to find out just how easy it really is to buy a prostitute in Columbia, if name-dropping and casually mentioning that you are a Secret Service agent makes it easier to pick up chicks in a bar, and what it feels like to wield a machine gun when you have a hangover. And stay tuned for the season finale episode in which celebrity guests Snookie, J-Wow, The Situation and the rest of “The Jersey Shore” cast face off with the agents to see who the harder partiers are.

“Sex In The Capitol City”

This tell-all show will be hosted by Rielle Hunter, disgraced former Senator John Edwards’ former mistress and the mother of his child. Hunter was chosen for the spot because of the shameless way in which she graphically describes how enjoyable having adulterous sex with the Senator was in her new memoir, What Really Happened. Expect candid interviews with other political figures who have had fidelity and decency problems while in public light including: former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford who abandoned his State unannounced for a week to vacation with his mistress; Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) who has a thing for male prostitutes; former New York “Luv Guv” Eliot Spitzer who has a thing for expensive prostitutes; and the aptly named former New York Representative Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) who likes to “sext” pictures of his genitals.

“To Tell The Truth, Or Not”

In this throwback to the classic television game show, a political figure will sit before a contestant — who must be a registered voter — and tell his story. The contestant will then have to decide whether the politician is outright lying, embellishing facts or being truthful. The first show will feature Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and the second episode President Barack Obama. Both have American success stories of overcoming underdog roots; both are complete with debatable facts.

“Who Wants To Be A $16 Trillionaire”

Hosted by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, this exciting show pits bank executives against one another to determine who can come up with the best way to rip off American citizens. The winner gets $16 trillion to use as they please as they work to enslave all Americans to debt and bankrupt the entire Nation.

“Jackboots”

If you thought “Cops” was an action-packed television show, you’ll love “Jackboots.” This documentary-style program will follow the plethora of enforcement agencies in the Nation as they use special training to injure and quiet anyone who stands in their way of complete dominance. You will get a firsthand look at how the Department of Homeland Security brands almost everyone a terrorist. You will learn how powerful it feels to Transportation Security Administration agents when they throw would-be passengers out of airports for refusing to be sexually molested. You will ride along with police officers who do not believe the Constitution restrains them in any way. And you will see the action as innocent farmers endure raids from armed bureaucrats. If you love the police state, you don’t want to miss this.

This proposed C-SPAN lineup likely seems a little absurd. What’s more absurd, however, is that programming like this would definitely cause the network’s ratings to skyrocket. And while many cringe at the antics of pop culture’s celebrities, those of the people running our Nation are in some ways worse. At least Snookie doesn’t have any legislative pull… yet.

U.N. Investigator: Obama’s Drones Violate Human Rights

A U.N. investigator wants some answers regarding President Barack Obama’s penchant for carrying out targeted drone attacks overseas that routinely result in civilian casualties.

The United States uses military drones to carry out attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia. In a 28-page report addressed to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Christof Heyns, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said that Washington must clarify the legal basis for the policy of killing suspected al-Qaida and Taliban leaders and associates rather than trying to capture them.

“The government should clarify the procedures in place to ensure that any targeted killing complies with international humanitarian law and human rights and indicate the measures or strategies applied to prevent casualties, as well as the measures in place to provide prompt, thorough, effective and independent public investigation of alleged violations,” the report says.

Details about the effectiveness of and collateral damage that comes with the United States’ continual use of drone strikes are sketchy by most accounts. In his report, Heyns cites figures from the Pakistan Human Rights Commission that claim American drone strikes killed at least 957 people in Pakistan in 2010 alone. The report also states that since 2004, roughly 20 percent of the thousands of people killed by drones overseas have been civilians.

Heyns says that international humanitarian law mandates that every effort be made to arrest a suspect and any use of force “comply with the principles of necessity and proportionality.” Washington, he says, has failed to respond satisfactorily to concerns voiced by others, including his predecessor, that have raised questions about U.S. drone policy.

“The Special Rapporteur again requests the Government to clarify the rules that it considers to cover targeted killings … [and] reiterates his predecessor’s recommendation that the government specify the bases for decisions to kill rather than capture ‘human targets’ and whether the State in which the killing takes places has given consent,” Heyns said.

The report, according to Reuters, was issued overnight Monday to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The 47-member Geneva forum was to discuss the matter on Tuesday.

The call for an evaluation of whether the United States is in violation of international law with its drone attacks comes on the heels of heavy news coverage in the Nation concerning President Barack Obama’s hawkish use of military drones. The New York Times recently pointed out that the Obama Administration routinely pads the numbers of possible civilian casualties associated with the strikes by describing “all military-age males in a strike zone” as combatants.

The Most Pesticide-Laden Produce, And Healthier Alternatives

A new report from the Environmental Working Group shows which varieties of commercial produce are the most and the least contaminated by agricultural pesticides.

The EWG’s eighth edition of the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ contains updated information on 45 popular fruits and vegetables and their total pesticide loads dividing produce into two groups, the Dirty Dozen Plus™ and the Clean Fifteen™.

“The explosive growth in market share for organic produce in recent years testifies to a simple fact that pesticide companies and the farmers who use their products just can’t seem to grasp: people don’t like to eat food contaminated by pesticides,” said EWG president Ken Cook. “Our shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce gives consumers easy, affordable ways to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables while avoiding most of the bug killers, fungicides and other chemicals in produce and other foods.”

Researchers analyzed annual pesticide residue tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2010. The samples were first washed or peeled prior to being tested so that rankings would reflect the amounts of the crop chemicals likely present on the food when is it eaten.

Here are some of their findings:

  • About 98 percent of conventional apples have detectable levels of pesticides.
  • Domestic blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues.
  • Seventy-eight different pesticides were found on lettuce samples.
  • Every single nectarine USDA tested had measurable pesticide residues.
  • As a category, grapes have more types of pesticides than any other fruit, with 64 different chemicals.
  • Thirteen different pesticides were measured on a single sample each of celery and strawberries.

The researchers also found that produce like kale and collard greens were commonly contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides that are toxic to the nervous system and have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. They are not banned, however, and still show up on some food crops.

“Organophosphate pesticides are of special concern since they are associated with neurodevelopmental effects in children,” said EWG toxicologist Johanna Congleton. “Infants in particular should avoid exposure to these pesticides since they are more susceptible to the effects of chemical insult than adults.”

For the first time, the researchers also took a look at commercially produced baby food and found that 92 percent of the pear samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue, with 26 percent of samples containing five or more pesticides and 15 different pesticides on all samples.

The researchers recommend that parents opt for organic baby food varieties or prepare their own baby food using organic produce or varieties known to have the lowest pesticide levels.

Here’s a look at which fruits and vegetables make each list:

The Dirty Dozen Plus™
Only buy these organic.
The Clean Fifteen™
Commercially lowest in pesticide.
Apples
Celery
Sweet bell peppers
Peaches
Strawberries
Nectarines- imported
Grapes
Spinach
Lettuce
Cucumbers
Blueberries- domestic
Potatoes
+ Green beans
+ Kale

**In order from highest to lowest pesticide content except for green beans and kale.

Onions
Sweet Corn
(buy organic if concerned about GMOs)
Pineapples
Avocado
Cabbage
Sweet peas
Asparagus
Mangoes
Eggplant
Kiwi
Cantaloupe- domestic
Sweet potatoes
Grapefruit
Watermelon
Mushrooms

**In order from lowest
to highest pesticide content.

 
Among The Clean Fifteen™, 90 percent of cabbage, asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant and sweet potato samples had one or no pesticides detected. Overall, no single vegetable sample had more than five different chemicals, and no single fruit sample had more than five types of pesticides detected.

The researchers also took a look at drinking water, taking 284 samples from 12 community drinking water sources. They discovered a toxic herbicide called atrazine or its metabolites in every single sample and the herbicides 2,4-D and metolachlor in more than 70 percent of the samples. Six varieties of pesticides were also found in at least half of the samples.

Summertime Blues For Teen Job Seekers

If your teenager has neglected to find a summer job since the end of the school year this year, don’t be too disappointed: It may have more to do with the economy than motivation.

For the third year in a row, teens seeking summer employment face a hiring slump. In the summers of 2010 and 2011, economists say, teen hiring was at its lowest levels since World War II. This summer, the unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is 24.9 percent nationally; in some major metropolitan areas it’s much higher.

Federal stimulus money was given to some cities in 2009 and 2010 to create summer job opportunities for teens. But, in many cases, the funding dried up and has proved an unsustainable means of creating teenage jobs, according to reports.

According to Reuters:

Los Angeles – with the help of federal stimulus money – created around 15,000 summer jobs for teenagers in 2009 and 2010. But as the federal program ended, that was slashed to about 6,000 in 2011. It will not rise this year…

New York City had 52,000 summer jobs for teens in 2009. Now the program is half that size. It has five applicants for every job…

Washington, D.C.’s teenage unemployment rate was 51.7 percent, an analysis by research fellow Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policies Institute showed.

Even if summer jobs in retail establishments and parks are drying up due to a weak economy, there is some good news for teens looking for extra cash this summer. Less economy-dependent positions like baby-sitting, dog-sitting, housekeeping, lawn-mowing and collecting scrap metal can all fit well into the wide-open summertime schedule of teen job seekers with an entrepreneurial spirit who may have more flexibility than their job-seeking adult counterparts.

Border Patrol Union: Holder Must Resign

The union that represents Border Patrol agents, the National Border Patrol Council, wants its members protected: from Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder’s involvement and alleged dishonesty about Operation Fast and Furious — the fatally flawed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives-led “gunwalking” scheme that resulted in the death of one of their own, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, in 2010 — has led the union to call for Holder’s resignation.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that the National Border Patrol Council made the decision to call for the Attorney General’s resignation after a year of frustration stemming from how the Justice Department chose to handle the operation and neglected to take responsibility for its failures.

Shawn Moran, a vice president of the union who is based in the San Diego area, explained the decision to the newspaper.

“This is something that all of our guys are concerned about, because they know it could be any one of them,” Moran said.

“We take the risks that are out there naturally just being in law enforcement working across from Mexico in the condition it’s in right now,” he said. “But what you can’t accept is when your own government is allowing weapons into the hands of the people you’re confronting.”

The union reportedly represents 3,700 agents in Southern Arizona, where Terry was killed, and 17,000 nationwide.

The union is joined by a number of Republican legislators who have called for Holder to be removed from his position.

The announcement was made two days before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to vote on whether to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding information related to the operation.

Holder was scheduled to meet with Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, on Tuesday evening in a bid to stave off the contempt vote. Issa said that Holder’s best-case scenario during the meeting would be for Congress to postpone the vote pending further disclosure of information regarding Fast and Furious.

World Governments Increasingly Demand Internet Censorship

Governments throughout the world are requesting that Internet companies censor large amounts of online content, and the usual suspects aren’t the only countries involved.

This from a new semi-annual transparency report put together by the search engine giant Google.

Much of the content that governments asked to have removed from the Internet was political in nature, and many of the requests were made by Western democracies that that are not typically considered proponents of censorship.

According to Google, Spain asked the company to remove 270 links to blogs and newspaper articles critical of public figures. Poland asked for the removal of an article and eight links that directed users to the article that criticized a government agency. In both cases Google says it declined to comply.

Canadian officials asked the company to remove a video of a YouTube user who urinated on his passport and flushed it down the toilet, a request that was also disregarded.

In the United Kingdom, government officials said YouTube was hosting at least six videos that promoted terrorism. The company removed all of the videos. And in the United States, authorities asked Google to remove 187 Internet posts that they deemed to be harassing in content. Google reportedly complied with 42 percent of the requests.

Dorothy Chou, Google’s senior policy analyst, wrote in a blog post about the report:

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data, in 2010, we noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not.

This is the fifth data set that we’ve released. Just like every other time, we’ve been asked to take down political speech. It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect – western democracies not typically associated with censorship.

Other countries that requested content removal include Pakistan, which unsuccessfully requested the removal of six YouTube videos that satirized its army and senior politicians, and Thailand, which asked for the removal of 149 YouTube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy — a violation of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law. The company complied with 70 percent of the Thai requests.

Overall, Google complied with an average of 65 percent of court orders, as opposed to 47 percent of more informal requests in the six-month period covered by the report.

Ron Paul Supporters Will Fight Forever

Ron Paul spoke to his supporters last week and urged them not to give up demanding that the ideals of the Revolution he has helped to spark become main staples of the Republican platform when the party meets in Tampa, Fla., in August. But for many of Paul’s supporters, giving up has never been an option anyway.

In a video address last Friday, Paul sought to get his delegates ready for what will be the climax of his entire campaign when the Republican National Convention begins on Aug. 27. In the days following the convention’s kickoff, Paul’s delegates will have the chance to change the GOP in ways that suit their mission regardless of the Party’s pick.

Paul is urging delegates and supporters who will be in Tampa to gather on Aug. 26, the day before the convention starts, for a rally to organize in anticipation of the events taking place the following week.

“[The rally] will celebrate what we have done and to urge on and encourage all the delegates who will do their job at the convention, fight for our values, influence the platform and do whatever we can to promote the cause of liberty,” Paul said.

The candidate also expressed the importance of his supporters showing up in large numbers for this event to let the Republican establishment know that his contingent refuses to be ignored.

 

 

Paul’s supporters, who have seen several ups and downs during the campaign season, continue to work feverishly throughout the Nation to further their cause. Often, their enthusiasm in getting involved in GOP politics gives the impression that the establishment is getting annoyed.

Though the national media spent little time covering the events that unfolded at the GOP state convention in Louisiana, Paul supporters who attended the event say old guard Republicans in that State blatantly tried to silence them. According to a report from The Times-Picayune, GOP officials, worried that Paul’s supporters would hijack the event, changed party rules in the days preceding the convention and arranged for nine off-duty police officers and several plainclothes state troopers to attend the event for security.

According to the news report, the additional security was provided because the State’s GOP had received a tip that Paul’s supporters had “retained a militia.” But Paul supporter Nick Soniat tells the story a little differently.

“What they called a militia was actually two guys that we asked to attend to stand around our chairperson, because we knew that they [the GOP] were arranging private security, and we feared that they would simply remove our people,” Soniat told Personal Liberty. “But they were asked not to enter the room. So we spoke to the state troopers to ensure that no one would attempt to remove speakers as long as they acted within the rules. We were assured that they would not.”

The convention reportedly then denigrated into chaos. The result and the cause are explained in two different ways: one from the perspective of Paul supporters and one from GOP loyalists.

Ellen Davis, a Paul delegate, writes in a letter to the Louisiana GOP:

“You claim that the violence committed against representatives of the majority of convention delegates was justified because you were simply enforcing the convention rules. Those supplemental convention rules were adopted in a PRIVATE meeting held two days before the state convention in Shreveport. They entirely changed the scope of the agreed upon rules submitted to the Republican National Committee in October of last year.”

Paul’s supporters in the State claim — with convincing video evidence to back them — that the GOP’s hired officers assaulted the first Paul delegate to the convention, putting him to the ground and breaking his fingers in the process. Davis says the man, Henry Herford, was then arrested without ever being told he was violating the law. Herford was charged with the misdemeanor crime of entering and remaining after being forbidden.

Following Herford’s arrest, the delegates proceeded to elect a new chair and continued with the business of the convention. They reportedly elected a slate of 27 Paul supporters to fill 12 of the 18 district delegate slots and 15 of 20 at-large delegate slots, before certifying the results with the RNC. At the same time, State party leaders held their own convention in one corner of the room with about 30 delegates in attendance that had either been certified by the Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum campaigns. Local media are reporting that the minority convention also elected a slate of delegates. Paul supporters and the Louisiana State GOP will likely not know whose delegates will represent the State until the national Republican Party’s contest committee determines the legitimate delegation.

The Republican Party’s “antics,” as they were described in Louisiana, have become a common gripe among Paul supporters. So much so that a large number of delegates represented by the law firm of Gilbert & Marlowe in Santa Ana, Calif., filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California asking the court to decide:

[W]hether Plaintiffs are free to vote their conscience on the first and all ballots at the Federal Election known as the Republican National Convention or whether Plaintiffs are bound to vote for a particular candidate as instructed by Defendants’ State Party Bylaws, or State Laws, or the preference of political operatives.

The chairmen of every State’s Republican Party, as well as the State parties, are named as defendants in the case.

The plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Richard Gilbert, explained his clients’ motivation to Courthouse News: “When nominating someone for a federal office, all delegates must be free to vote their conscience. They don’t want to be bound to any candidate, or even be forced to vote for the nominee. To have a real convention, the delegates must have free will so that when they meet, they can persuade each other and then decide who to vote for.”

Gilbert said that GOP chairmen and organizers have changed the rules immediately before a convention — like in Louisiana — “and sometimes in the middle of one” to block the existence of a quorum or to “rig an outcome.”

Before a judge could rule a hearing or an injunction in the case, however, it must be determined whether a State nominating convention qualifies as a “Federal” election for purposes of applying Federal election and voting laws and that all of the named plaintiffs are indeed delegates to the national convention.

 

 

 

Despite the controversy that continues around the Paul campaign as the RNC draws near, it continues to realize delegate victories throughout the Nation. His supporters have taken over State Republican conventions in Nevada and Maine, and had a strong showing this weekend in Iowa.

With 100,000 supporters and a strong number of delegates expected to arrive in Tampa in August, Paul is certain his backers have a major chance to reshape aspects of the Republican Party. His success in doing so could mean that even if shaping the Party platform at the RNC is one of his last political undertakings, GOP officials will be in the company of people who appreciate the political philosophy he popularized for years to come.

Drones: Big Brother’s Eye In The Sky

Be they targeted assassinations with unavoidable collateral damage or crashes, U.S. drone missions have been responsible for a number of deaths that remains largely unknown by speculators and top U.S. officials alike.

A recent report from The Atlantic explains:

Estimates from anonymous Obama administration officials about many civilian casualties provide little clarity. In April 2009, a U.S. official claimed that “more than 400″ enemy fighters in Pakistan had been killed by drone strikes: “We believe the number of civilian casualties is just over 20, and those were people who were either at the side of major terrorists or were at facilities used by terrorists.” In addition, in May 2010 a U.S. counterterrorism official stated: “We believe the number of noncombatant casualties is under  30, those being people who were near terrorist targets, while the total for militants taken off the battlefield exceeds 500.” In August 2011, ABC News reported, “[A senior U.S. official] said that while the U.S. agrees around 2,000 suspected militants have been killed, the total civilian casualties are closer to 50.”

And now, local and Federal agencies are doing everything in their power to make drones commonplace here at home. A report Monday in The Washington Times explains that the Department of Homeland Security currently has more drones than it knows what to do with.

The Department’s inspector general released a report this week detailing how Customs and Border Patrol officials currently have acquired nine unmanned aerial vehicles and are awaiting a tenth, but have no real plan of how to use the potentially deadly machines. The agency uses the drones in part to patrol the country’s borders and reportedly also routinely conducts missions for the Texas Rangers, the U.S. Forest Service, the FBI and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But as Americans become ever more likely to see military-style drones flying over domestic airspace, concerns about privacy and safety abound.

The Associated Press reported Monday that a 44-foot unmanned Naval drone on a “routine maintenance flight” crashed near Bloodsworth Island, Md., in the Chesapeake Bay around 100 miles outside of Washington, D.C.

Is Mitt The Sh*t With Young Voters?

Urban Outfitters is a clothing store popular with young Americans who may fit into the young urban professional (yuppie), hipster or college crowd who in 2008 may have been labeled as synonymous with Barack Obama supporters.

Broken promises, adopting many of the war tactics of his predecessor and a dismal economic outlook for the future has seen Obama’s popularity with American youths fall sharply of late. A recent survey from the nonprofit, non-partisan Generation Opportunity shows that only 31 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of youth unemployment. Among the age group, 57 percent say they will learn more about the policy positions of the Presidential candidates in the 2012 election than they did in 2008.

That is why, perhaps, Urban Outfitters has released a lighthearted T-shirt that may help the GOP appear less stuffy to young voters who shun some of the social aspects of modern conservatism while embracing the fiscal and small government ideals of the right.

One shirt, sold in a stylish cut well fitted for young people, is emblazoned with the GOP’s elephant and reads “Mitt Is The Sh*t.”

Another pictures an oven mitt over the candidate’s last name.

The store also carries Obama merchandise.

Of note, however, is the Obama campaign offers about 18 Web pages of merchandise — ranging from merchandise specialized for women, youths, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transsexuals, African-Americans, Latinos, nurses, environmentalists, Jews, golfers, outdoor furniture, kitchen goods and fashion accessories designed by big-name fashion designers among other things — on its website. The Romney campaign website offers only one page of merchandise that includes bumper stickers, sweatshirts, T-shirts, ball caps and other traditional campaign fodder.

Obama Is Falling Apart, Losing Friends

Things have not been going as well as the Administration of President Barack Obama likely wishes they were in recent weeks, and the President seems to be taking heat from people across the political spectrum.

Last Friday, Obama held a press conference about the economy. Later, Washington Post opinion writer Ed Rogers lambasted the President for giving a speech in which nothing was said. Rogers suggested Obama’s advisers give him some honest advice about his terrible performance.

Rogers writes:

If you are president of the United States and you don’t have anything to say, don’t have a press conference to say it.  If you’re the president of the United States and by Thursday it’s widely believed you’ve had one of the worst weeks of your presidency, take Friday off, and specifically avoid having a press conference.

Anytime you are president and you’re speaking in public at an ill-timed press conference after a bad week, try to have something to say, and do a good job in saying it.  I watched the whole thing, but it’s not easy to think of one useful thing that he had to say.  And what he said, he said very poorly.  Was it just me, or did the president seem a little dazed and confused?  He should have had a cup of coffee before the press conference.

Over at the left-leaning blog Crooks and Liars, pundits focused more on what the President did say as opposed to what he did not.

The blog states:

[W]hat bothered me about the entire briefing…is that Obama seemed out of it. There was no sense of urgency in his voice or demeanor that millions of people are hurting, are underwater on their mortgage payments—and are one paycheck away from ruin. And worst of all, in an election year, there was no discernible trace of anger that Republicans in the House are a big part of the reason.

And there was this comment from the President, which raised eyebrows among even from the writers at Huffington Post: “The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.”

Huffington Post’s Luke Johnson points out:

As a political matter, the remark had all of the makings of a gaffe. The economy is Obama’s biggest weakness in his campaign for re-election, and the comment almost certainly did not help the president’s standing.

Obama released a statement later in the day seeking to “clarify” his remarks and make it “absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine.” The rest of the Nation knew this a week prior with the release of a dismal economic report followed by a drop in consumer confidence.

For many who want to see a new President take office in January, the Friday’s press conference sits perfectly atop a month-long accumulation of bad press for the current Administration.

In May, the Obama campaign asked Mayor Corey Booker of Newark, N.J., to appear on “Meet the Press” to act as a campaign mouthpiece. During the interview, Booker told a national TV audience the President’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at private-equity firm Bain Capital were “nauseating” and made him “very uncomfortable.”

Later, former Representative Artur Davis (D-Ala.), a close ally of President Barack Obama, switched parties and became a Republican — but only after criticizing the direction that the Democratic Party is headed.

Meanwhile, Republicans have recently began increasing pressure for investigation into suspected leaks of classified security information said to have been carried out to bolster Obama’s public image with regard to foreign policy. Among the information contained in the leaks are reports on U.S. cyber warfare against Iran, procedures for targeting militants for drone attacks and the existence of a double agent who penetrated a militant group in Yemen. Some lawmakers have called for an investigation to be carried out by a special counsel, independent of the Justice Department.

The Justice Department is dealing with some troubles of its own in connection with the highly publicized “gunwalking” scandal Operation Fast and Furious and whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress. A House committee looking into the ordeal has scheduled a contempt vote for June 20.

If it weren’t enough that he seems to be losing his luster with media and liberal bloggers while simultaneously being embroiled in controversy, Obama also seems to have lost some favor with his former number one fan: “Obama Girl” Amber Lee Ettinger.

Ettinger, the young model and actress who became an Internet sensation during the 2008 Presidential election after making a love song for Obama, says she is “not as excited as I was the last time, that’s for sure.” She subsequently declined to tell The Daily Caller that she supported Obama for re-election.

Greens Want Lead Out Of Ammo

Environmentalists have taken to Federal court to demand that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overstep its authority and regulate lead ammunition.

The Trumpeter Swan Society, the Center for Biological Diversity and five other groups seek judicial review of the EPA’s denial of their petition in which the agency stated that regulating ammunition is beyond it authority.

The environmental groups want the EPA to go after lead ammunition under the Toxic Substance Control Act. The groups say that lead poisoning from ammunition frequently kills not only condors but eagles, swans, loons and other birds that feed on dead animals in the wild.

California prohibited the use of lead ammunition in the 15 counties considered condor territory in 2008, and Arizona wildlife officials offer hunters there free nontoxic copper bullets with hunting permits. Several other States have mandated nontoxic shotgun shot for upland game bird hunting and other partial bans on lead ammo.

But the groups want broader Federal regulation, saying the EPA for years has regulated lead as a toxic substance, so it is unclear why it refuses to do so for lead ammunition.

Ron Paul Republicans, A Party Anew

Last week, thousands of Ron Paul supporters likely cried “Judas” when the Presidential candidate’s son Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered his support for Mitt Romney.

But some within the Ron Paul Revolution don’t seem all that worried. The elder Paul himself recognized prior to the announcement that he didn’t have enough delegates to secure the Republican Party nomination; though, he has undoubtedly secured enough to have a place at the party convention (Paul predicts 500).

“My first choice had always been my father,” Paul told Fox News’ Sean Hannity last Thursday. “I campaigned for him when I was 11 years old. He’s still my first pick. But now that the nominating process is over, tonight I’m happy to announce that I’m going to be supporting Gov. Mitt Romney.”

While some members of the Ron Paul camp have expressed disdain at the turn of events, other Paul supporters are urging them to consider the bigger picture: Paul’s victory in the battle for the White House would pale in comparison to the chance his supporters have to redefine the Republican Party in coming years.

Reason’s Brian Doherty turns to Republican Party history to explain the movement that is under way, writing:

The Goldwater movement in 1960 was seen as too young, too radical and too outside the mainstream by the GOP establishment of its day.

The religious right during the 1988 Pat Robertson campaign was seen as an overly loud and pushy minority.

But just as those minorities grew and dominated the GOP, the libertarian-leaning energy of the Ron Paul movement is primed to shape the future of the Republican Party.

With their unique seriousness about reining in a government drowning in debt, neither the Republican Party nor the country can afford to ignore the concerns of Paul’s devotees.

Paulitical Ticker blogger Jack Hunter explains more here:

Former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who wants his 267 delegates to get piece of the convention action, has noted that a fight within the GOP is already under way.

“I want to make sure that our delegates have an opportunity to come, many of these folks were great volunteers and workers for us and I want to make sure they have the opportunity to experience that convention, and we have other candidates who have delegates coming who, let’s put it this way, may have a different approach, particularly to the platform,” Santorum said speaking to a conservative group last Friday.

Santorum will likely get his fight. In a campaign email last week, Paul urged his delegates to prepare to head to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this August.

“I hope every one of you continues the fight we have advanced so well this year.  I hope you will finish your local and state conventions, and, if you were selected as a national delegate, that you will head to Tampa in August to force the Republican Party to listen to the voice of liberty,” said the correspondence. “We have never had this kind of opportunity.  There will be hundreds of your fellow supporters in Tampa who will be ready and willing to push the Republican Party back to its limited government, liberty roots.”

The Republican National Committee is already bracing itself to deal with Paul supporters who want to reshape its policies. A three-day festival directly preceding the convention in honor of Paul was put on hold last week because the RNC — which controls most of the free space in Tampa the week of the convention, including the fairgrounds where the festival was scheduled to be held — has for now blocked approval for the event.

If the RNC blocks the event, there is a possibility that it will have 20,000 angry Paul supporters who were expected to attend spread throughout Tampa and a swarm of unhappy delegates attending the convention. It could mean serious bad press surrounding the weeklong Romney love-fest.