Report Measures State Corruptibility

A recent report by the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International ranks States by corruptibility.

Judging from organizations involved in conducting the report, many conservatives likely assume it’s biased beyond use, but the corruption-risk report cards provided through the State Integrity Investigation have some practical value for political junkies. The index, to the surprise of many Americans, ranked New Jersey the least easily corruptible State in the Union; the most easily corruptible was Georgia.

Each State received a corruptibility report card graded by the following criteria on a 100 percent scale (100 being least corrupt):

  • Public access to information
  • Executive accountability
  • Judicial accountability
  • State civil service management
  • Internal auditing
  • State pension fund management
  • State insurance commissions
  • Political financing
  • Legislative accountability
  • State budget processes
  • Procurement
  • Lobbying disclosure
  • Ethics enforcement agencies
  • Redistricting

New Jersey scored 87 percent, a B+, and took first place as the least corruptible State. Georgia, on the other hand, scored only 49 percent, an F, after failing in nine of the 14 above-mentioned categories.

The State Integrity Investigation, according to its sponsors, does not measure good or morality within States, but rather tests “the structure that governs the government, documenting the laws on the books and investigating the actions that enforce those laws.”

The report explains:

The No. 1 ranking in the State Integrity Investigation does not make New Jersey the least corrupt state in the country, in the same way that seatbelts and airbags don’t prevent car accidents.

So, how did New Jersey win? The state finished first overall in Executive Accountability, Civil Service Management, State Pension Fund Management, and Ethics Enforcement. New Jersey didn’t have a bad category, ranking above the median in 13 of 14 categories. The state also benefitted from weak competition, as evidenced by the fact that its B+ grade was good enough for first place.

To see how your home State did, visit the State Integrity Investigation website.

Breitbart ‘Vetting’ Continues, Targets Holder

The death of new-media mogul Andrew Breitbart has not derailed his promise to provide voters a thorough “vetting” of President Barack Obama and his Administration in the months leading up to the 2012 Presidential election.

The latest installment of the “vetting” from Breitbart.com examines Attorney General Eric Holder, his past and the fatally flawed Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Fast and Furious gunwalking campaign. The conservative news outlet published on Sunday a video of Holder that originally aired on CSPAN 2 circa 1995, wherein the future Attorney General calls for a plan to “really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.”

A portion of the clip can be viewed below:
 

 
Following the release of the video, the news outlet — in its signature publishing style — released Holder’s vetting in segments, using the Attorney General’s 1995 remarks to make the case that Fast and Furious had nothing to do with curbing violence in Mexico and everything to do with creating carnage to make Americans favor tougher gun laws.

Breitbart.com says of the video: “The video reveals Attorney General Holder’s early, consistent, and strident enthusiasm for gun control legislation. He wanted schools to talk about anti-gun propaganda ‘every day, every school, and every level.’ Operation Fast and Furious—in which Holder’s Department of Justice (DOJ) smuggled guns illegally to Mexican drug cartels— could finally have provided Holder the material for that anti-gun curriculum.”

Brookings Institute: Syria Intervention Will Be Costly

U.S. military intervention in Syria could require between 200,000 and 300,000 U.S. troops on the ground at a cost of up to $300 billion per year to American taxpayers, says a new report  from the Bookings Institution Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

Though there has been no talk of a strategy involving invasion of the country yet, the organization points out the difficulties associated with President Barack Obama’s goal of removing Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.

The report discusses invasion as one of six ways that Obama’s goal could be met, including:

1. Removing the regime via diplomacy,

2. Coercing the regime via sanctions and diplomatic isolation,

3. Arming the Syrian opposition to overthrow the regime,

4. Engaging in a Libya-like air campaign to help an opposition army gain victory,

5. Invading Syria with U.S.-led forces and toppling the regime directly,

6. Participating in a multilateral, NATO-led effort to oust Assad and rebuild Syria.

The report contends that no matter which course of action were followed the cost to the United States would likely be great and that the options that would come at a lesser cost to the United States are also those most likely to fail.

“At the end of the day, however, removing Assad may not be doable at a price the United States is willing to pay,” the report states. “Although the Obama administration has for months called for Assad to go, every policy option to remove him is flawed, and some could even make the situation worse — seemingly a recipe for inaction.”

Connecting The Dots Of Martial Law

On Friday, the Administration of Barack Obama released the details of an executive order (National Defense Resource Preparedness) that set cyberspace abuzz with reports that the President had put the final mechanisms in place to enact martial law in the United States.

Though the President’s signing of the order riled many Americans who are already more than a bit concerned about the administration’s ongoing expansion of powers, experts say being concerned now is too little too late. The action in question is essentially an update of a similar order put into place by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (EO 10789) in 1958, which was amended in 1994 by President Bill Clinton (EO 12919) in 1994 and later by George W. Bush (EO 13286) in 2003.

Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson told WND Americans should worry about Obama’s other vast abuses of power.

“If someone wants to make the argument that this is an expansion of presidential powers, then do so based on actual language,” Jacobson said. “There is enough that Obama actually does wrong without creating claims which do not hold up to scrutiny.”

Despite frightening language in the order that calls for government acquisition of resources and the ability of the government to “foster cooperation between the defense and commercial sectors for research and development and for acquisition of materials, services, components, and equipment to enhance industrial base efficiency and responsiveness,” experts contend that it simply freshens up language about powers the government claimed long ago. In the name of national security, the order lays forth a plan for the Federal government to:

  • “Identify” requirements for emergencies,
  • “Assess” the capability of the country’s industrial and technological base,
  • “Be prepared” to ensure the availability of critical resources in time of national threat,
  • “Improve the efficiency” of the industrial base to support national defense,
  • “Foster cooperation” between commercial and defense sectors.

In modern history, justification for the Federal government to carry out any of the above-mentioned tasks would have been reserved to extreme scenarios, such as military attack on the country or the complete collapse of financial markets. The first item mentioned, however, should come under particular scrutiny, due in part to recent laws and rhetoric from the Federal government that make it possible for the bureaucracy to claim nearly any scenario an emergency and nearly any person an enemy of the State.

Though the President’s recent executive order appears to be fairly innocuous on its own, those even marginally concerned about its language would likely consider its implications when discussed alongside:

Though Jacobson told WND the order is likely no cause for concern, he added, “I’m not ruling out the possibility that this is more than it seems, but unless and until someone [demonstrates any expansion of powers in the order], I’ll consider this to be routine.”

Critics would argue that Jacobsen is misguided in his assertion, and that the expansion of powers is taking place elsewhere while the timing of Obama’s latest executive order is simply a reinforcement of Federal supremacy.

The New American speculates, “Perhaps the President is taking the first few steps necessary to cloak himself in the powers required to ‘legally’ (albeit unconstitutionally) step outside the boundaries of his constitutional authority and ascend to a level of supervision witnessed in all the former republics of history just before their devolution into mobocracy and mayhem.”

Social Networks Becoming Valuable To Police

Facebook has become an increasingly useful tool for law enforcement agencies, and reports of criminals being caught after posting about or discussing crimes via the site are not uncommon, but a new report shows law enforcement using social networking in more intricate ways.

After a bullet grazed the head of a victim in New York City on March 10, detectives used facial recognition software in conjunction with Facebook to solve the crime, according to My FOX New York. The shooting victim told officers he knew the man, but did not know his name and provided them a Facebook photo of the suspect.

Authorities at the Real Time Crime Center, which contains a database of mug shots, names and nicknames, fed the photo through the system and a match appeared: the suspect’s prior mug shot.

A recent article published by infoTECH outlines a number of other ways police are using social networking as a crime-fighting tool throughout the country, including by posting pictures of criminals or soliciting information from users of social networking sites to help with investigations.

Republican Robots Rejecting Ron Paul


AN ANALYSIS


Ron Paul supporters get a bad rap, especially from establishment Republicans. They are often branded as a raucous bunch who obnoxiously disrupt order at conventions and gatherings and are accused of disrupting the entire 2012 primary process. When did it become so out of line to be passionate about a political cause?

The way Paul supporters anger establishment Republicans when they use party rules to assert the voice they have been denied by the media at conventions throughout the Nation reminds one of an obscure Norwegian film released in 2006. “The Bothersome Man” a film wherein a 40-year-old man arrives in an idyllic city where the inhabitants are emotionally sterile and simply “going through the motions” of life is not exactly a political film (the film is very bizarre and not in English), but it’s a good analogy for the GOP establishment. In recent primaries the situation has been sterile, as well-mannered and politically lukewarm Americans shuffled into voting places cast their popular vote beauty contest ballots and went home to observe the results on FOX or CNN. A few people who better understood the process, or had been working closely with the campaigns, were largely the only ones involved in the business of delegates and conventions.

This election season, however, has been different. The way in which the Paul campaign has educated its voters and trained them to involve themselves more deeply in the process could be viewed as a public service as well as a campaign tactic. Establishment Republicans don’t see it that way, though, because it has thrown a wrench in their otherwise comfortable process.

Take this blog post outlining the experience of an establishment Republican in Minnesota at his local convention, “Ron Paul’s Devious Plan to Steal the Presidency,” from Hillbuzz:

The Paulbots, who did NOT submit their names prior to the convention, were now demanding that they should added to the list of nominees that very day. This is normally outside of the rules, but the Paulbots (there were at least 50 of them spread throughout the auditorium) through a suspension of the rules, demanded that they be added to the list of nominees. It was difficult to override their votes, as they had descended en masse to this event, and the unsuspecting non-Paul delegates were confused as to what was going on!

After some manipulative moves on the floor, and by using Roberts Rules of order AGAINST the Convention Chair, they were able to add all of their names to the delegate nominations.

I’ve never seen such unmitigated rudeness at a convention before. The Paulbots would leap to their feet screaming “Point of order!” every time they thought that the chair was being dismissive of them.

The entire process was chaotic and psychotic, and the non-Paul delegates were stunned. They didn’t understand what was happening, and I tried to explain to an elderly woman from my precinct that this entire coup was PLANNED, and that the Paulbots had every intention of flooding the State delegates with Paul supporters.

Sounds like Paul’s people crashed the party. In reality, the writer of the blog post was made uncomfortable by something else altogether: He is unable to understand how these “rude” Paul supporters were able to take control of a process where power is usually wielded by only a few like-minded participants. Not only have the Paul supporters turned the usual sheep herding into a “chaotic and psychotic” process, they’ve done it in the name of a man who strikes fear into the hearts of GOP talking heads like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, whose words are political gospel for the establishment Republicans accustomed to leading these events. Paul has pulled back the curtain of the political process for many young and politically passionate Americans. What is so bad about that?

Last week, reports similar to the above-mentioned blog post were abundant, as Paul supporters were accused of muddying county conventions in Iowa and Colorado. Establishment attendees in Iowa claimed that Paul’s supporters were using illegal tactics, encouraged by the Paul campaign, to gain delegate seats.

“They were abrasive, offensive, and self-centered,” Kevin McLaughlin, GOP chairman in Polk County, told ABC.

The chairman, a veteran of many conventions, went on to say that the scene was very unusual in his experience, but that Paul was not going to succeed.

The Paul campaign says that the complaints from establishment Republicans are “silly” and based on the fact that Paul’s people have out-organized the campaigns of other candidates.

In fact, Drew Ivers and David Fischer, co-chairs of Paul’s Iowa campaign, told supporters in an email that the key to “to get elected” is “to be aggressive.”

“Remember, to get elected, the first key is to be aggressive so make sure you jump up as soon as nominations are open. If there are any votes, make sure you vote ONLY for Ron Paul supporters. A vote for anyone who is not a Ron Paul supporter could cost us seats at the District and State Conventions.”

It is natural to reject change and outside influence in a closed system, but to give the GOP some advice in the words of Bob Dylan, “You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, the times they are a changin’.” In 2008, lukewarm, establishment Republicans picked a lukewarm, establishment Republican candidate who exemplified much of what the wildly unpopular Republican President before him stood for. Meanwhile his challenger promised “hope,” “change” and a new way of doing things in Washington. People who were never politically involved flocked to support the latter because of a growing frustration with the status quo. He got elected, and those supporters got no “hope,” no “change” and the same old business coming out of Washington. They are angry and they’re rejecting the false left-right paradigm like never before.

There is one man who can and has energized many of those disenfranchised voters. He just happens to have an “R” next to his name; but many of his supporters don’t look like Republicans and maybe they don’t act like Republicans, so they are being shunned. Those voters will likely stay home or cast protest votes for Paul in November, and America will see how whichever lukewarm, establishment Republican candidate’s turn it is to get the nomination holds up against President Barack Obama in the general election. Paul’s people know how things will turn out; that’s why they act so rudely. This is no time for polite politics.

Israel May Raise Prices At The Pump

Supporting Israel’s ambition to attack Iran may also mean supporting an attack on the pocketbooks of average Americans who are already battling a troubled economy.

Market analysts predict that an Israeli strike on Iran could push the price of regular gasoline to a national average of $5 to $6 per gallon, higher than the record high average of $4.11 per gallon in 2008.

According to The Hill, the United States does not import oil from Iran, but U.S. gasoline prices are tied to crude prices set on global markets which would be affected by Iranian oil disruptions.

While President Barack Obama and some GOP Presidential candidates have been mentioning gas prices as a political issue in the past couple of weeks, oil experts and economists say the issue is largely out of the President’s hands.

According to The Washington Post, oil prices have been most heavily influenced by oil exploration, automobile design and ingrained consumer habits combined with political events in places such as Sudan and Libya, anxiety about possible conflicts with Iran, and the energy aftershocks of last year’s earthquake in Japan.

There’s A Drug For That

The pharmaceutical industry is pushing the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs like Seroquel, Zyprexa and Abilify on patients with no disabling mental illness more often than ever before.

The drugs are being prescribed by psychiatrists and primary-care doctors to treat conditions for which they were not intended, including anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, sleep difficulties, behavioral problems in toddlers and dementia. Until the past 10 years, the drugs were reserved for the approximately 3 percent of Americans with the most disabling mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and very severe depression.

These days, according to a report by The Washington Post, the drugs are being prescribed for things they are not even approved to treat. Many critics say the trend boils down to money.

“Antipsychotics are overused, overpriced and oversold,” said Allen Frances, former chair of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine.

The medical professional said that the drugs, which are designed to calm patients and to moderate the hallucinations and delusions of psychosis, are being used “promiscuously, recklessly” despite the possibility of serious side effects.

Recent reports show that more than 20 percent of Americans are currently taking antipsychotics.

In another development in the growing prescription drug culture, researchers now claim that the heart disease drug Propranolol may be able to eliminate racist attitudes, according to The Telegraph.

Experimental psychologist Dr. Sylvia Terbeck, from Oxford University, who led the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, said: “Our results offer new evidence about the processes in the brain that shape implicit racial bias. Implicit racial bias can occur even in people with a sincere belief in equality. Given the key role that such implicit attitudes appear to play in discrimination against other ethnic groups, and the widespread use of propranolol for medical purposes, our findings are also of considerable ethical interest.”

Saudi Student Arrested After White House Threat

According to testimony presented to Congress last week by two top officials of the Department of Homeland Security, a Saudi Arabian national who entered the United States on a student visa was arrested in January after he threatened to blow up the White House.

The revelation was made during a March 6 hearing by the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security examining why a Moroccan national, Amine El Khalifi, was able to remain in the United States for 13 years after his tourist visa expired, according to CNSNews. He was arrested last month for allegedly attempting to commit a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol.

“In January 2012, for example,” said Peter Edge, DHS’s deputy associate director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigations, “ICE special agents from our Washington, D.C., office arrested a Saudi Arabian national who was admitted as an F-1 nonimmigrant student and violated the term and condition of his admission. The individual was referred for investigation after his status was terminated in SEVIS [Student and Exchange Visitor Information System] for failure to maintain student status as well as for possessing several indicators of national security concerns, including threatening to blow up the White House and the Saudi Arabian cultural mission to the United States.”

According to CNSNews, Federal authorities were unable to provide information about the student status or length of time the Saudi national who allegedly threatened to blow up the White House had been in the country, or whether he was charged with any crime.

Maybe Ron Paul Really Is Winning

The evidence is in: Ron Paul has almost no chance of becoming the Republican Presidential nominee. But the way in which the candidate has shaped the primary season is much more of a story than his campaign’s failure to win Republican beauty contest popular votes throughout the Nation. A vote for Paul, even this late in the game, is not a throwaway.

Observing media-declared front-runner Mitt Romney’s relentless and ever-changing attempts to relate to voters in different areas of the country offers a clear case for Paul support. To his own detriment, Romney has tried on several occasions to seem like a normal American. However, he has succeeded only in telling the Nation that he:

  • Hangs around with people who own NASCAR teams,
  • Doesn’t think $347,000 is very much money,
  • Can afford a casual $10,000 bet,
  • Thinks corporations are people,
  • And has an odd relationship with grits and the word “ya’ll.”

Romney is not America’s Average Joe. He is, in fact, debatably guilty of the very same aloofness toward what goes on outside of the political and financial centers in the country for which conservatives often criticize President Barack Obama.

The campaigns of both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have picked up on the disconnect between Romney and the average American, and they both changed their tactics to use it to their benefit. Gingrich used Tuesday night’s Romney disappointments in Alabama and Mississippi to call into question Romney’s status as the inevitable GOP nominee.

“One of the things tonight proves is that the elite media’s efforts to convince the Nation that Mitt Romney is inevitable just collapsed,” Gingrich told supporters in Birmingham, Ala.

Rick Santorum won both of the States in what many people see as a game changer in the primary.

As the contest drags on, the campaign strategies of all candidates are beginning to sound like the one the Paul campaign announced it would publically pursue from the beginning: Amass delegates with less focus on popular votes. The drawn-out primary season, however, is making it more likely after each contest that none of the candidates will have the necessary 1,144 delegates that it takes to get the nomination.

A Gingrich campaign insider has now floated the idea that a Gingrich-Santorum alliance may be in the works for the Presidency and the Vice Presidency, and rumors are resurfacing that the Romney and Paul camps are in talks, though the details are unclear.

There is speculation that Paul would agree to work with the Romney campaign — advising his tireless supporters to do so as well — if there is a chance to work his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), into the picture. This is good for conservatives, because the younger Paul is expected to launch his own bid for the Presidency in 2016. So, for now, a vote for Ron Paul may be a vote for reigning in Romney’s big-government tendencies — anathema to many conservative voters — with the help of the libertarian-leaning Representative from Texas. With the support of hardline conservatives and Paul’s younger, more libertarian-minded base, Romney might actually have a shot against Obama in the general election. Rand Paul may be the icing on the cake for conservative voters (he has wooed the Tea Party) and Ron Paul (if he can impress his father’s ardent supporters) as a strong candidate for 2016 for whom GOP voters can collectively stomach casting a ballot.

Running For Office? Deepen Your Voice

Perhaps the Republican Presidential contenders should take a little time out from campaigning to watch some classic John Wayne movies, paying careful attention to the iconic actor’s voice: Findings from a new study suggest that voters are more likely to pick candidates who have deeper voices.

A newly published paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences shows that men and women are both more likely to vote for male and female candidates with lower-pitched voices whom they perceive as more competent, stronger and more trustworthy.

“Our study asks how voice pitch influences electability, and to my knowledge is the first to examine the voices of both male and female candidates,” says Casey Klofstad, associate professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami and corresponding author for the study. “For example, we found that men and women perceive lower pitched female voices to be more competent and stronger. In contrast, only men perceive lower pitched male voices to be more competent and stronger.”

The findings suggest that men and women with lower voices could be more successful in obtaining positions of leadership. The results also raise the question of whether the electability of female candidates could be influenced by the fact that women tend to have higher-pitched voices than men. The authors contend that while people are free to choose their leaders, these choices cannot be understood in isolation from biological influences.

No Budget, No Pay

A bill gaining bipartisan support on and off of Capitol Hill sends a pretty clear message to Congress: Fail to do your job, and we aren’t going to pay you.

Representative Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.) introduced identical “No Budget, No Pay” bills in the House and Senate in December that are continuing to gain co-sponsors and endorsements. Cooper’s bill currently has the support of 34 Representatives equally divided by party and Heller’s has six co-sponsors in the Senate, only one of whom is a Democrat, according to The Washington Times.

If “No Budget, No Pay” became law, the stakes would be high for American legislators. In the past six decades, Congress has managed to pass a budget successfully only four times.

“If this body can’t find a way to do what we have been sent here to do by the American people, which is to cut spending and reduce our nation’s outrageous $15 trillion deficit, then we don’t deserve to get paid,” Representative Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) said of the proposed legislation.

The measure has scored endorsements from the taxpayer-watchdog group Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, the free-market organization Americans for Prosperity and the centrist group No Labels.

Business Owner Harassed Over American Flag

In another of the ever-increasing incidences of regulation run amok throughout the Nation, a Georgia business owner is being harassed by officials in his hometown for proudly flying an American flag on his own property.

According to the Albany Herald, an Albany code officer told Tom Gieryic the standard-sized American flag flying on a pole outside of his automotive repair shop was in violation of the city’s signs ordinance. Gieryic’s troubles reportedly began when a group of retired Marines offered to hang a new flag from his pole. The businessman accepted the offer and left his business for lunch. When he returned, he was met by an irritated code enforcement officer who informed him that if he failed to remove the flag he would face fines.

The officer, who contended that the flag was on the city’s right of way, demanded the business owner’s license and informed him that he could face a $1,000-per-day fine and 60 days in jail for not removing the flag. She then wrote him a ticket.

Gieryic raised a stink with city officials and was able to get the ticket dropped to a warning, but he was informed that the flag — which has been in the same spot for 30 years — must be moved by 1 foot.

Gieryic said the incident is an example of “government getting involved in areas they don’t need to be involved.”

“Frankly, I think the city’s law concerning the United States flag is a stupid one and should be changed,” he told the Herald. “I believe in that ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ slogan and believe every American should be allowed to fly his or her flag — as long as it doesn’t impede traffic or cause some kind of safety issue — anywhere they want on American soil.”

Eat Berries To Protect Your Aging Brain

Researchers say that there is strong scientific evidence that eating blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other berry fruits can benefit brain health.

An article recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says that eating berries can keep the brain healthy and are very beneficial in preventing age-related memory loss and other changes.

Authors Barbara Shukitt-Hale, Ph.D., and Marshall G. Miller write that longer lifespans are raising concerns about an increase in Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of mental decline among populations and that prevention is the best protection against such ailments.

Berry fruits contain high levels of antioxidants that protect brain cells from damage by harmful free radicals, according to the research. The two also report that berry fruits change the way neurons in the brain communicate. The changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain that contribute to neuronal damage and improve both motor control and cognition.

The researchers extensively reviewed research about the health effects of berries on cells, animals and humans to reach their conclusion.

Berries have many other health benefits including essential vitamins and minerals, and different types can be found and picked in the wild throughout the United States for a truly organic fruit.

Prepping For Zombies To Gain Real-World Survival Skills

For preppers looking for a way to combine fun and survival preparedness training, Trackers Earth, a Portland, Ore.-based organization, offers a Zombie First Responder course that plays on the popularity of zombie films and television shows in recent years to encourage survival preparedness.

Over the course of two days, participants train for everything from wilderness and urban survival, Nerf or nerd weaponry, stealth and evasion and proper zombie “disposal.” The course places heavy emphasis on quick decision making in dangerous situations.

The organization says of the program:

The Trackers Rangers Guild teaches their own special brand of survival skills applicable in both an urban and wilderness setting. They tell you how to get out of town and into the woods as you strive to exodus major population centers.

Plus, they cover The Curriculum of Shadows, akin to a martial art, this unique philosophy uses shadows, silence, stealth and invisibility to help you guide your band of lone survivors through an earth populated by 6 billion creatures ravenous for your squishy brains.

While the course is centered on a fun fantasy scenario, some valuable survival skills that are more practical than zombie disposal are also addressed. Participants learn how to: build a fire with no matches, make and use primitive weaponry, build a wilderness shelter from available materials, bug out methods, foraging skills, campfire cooking and more.

The organization also offers various non-zombie related survival training courses including a one-year “full immersion” survival-training program. More information is available on the Trackers Earth website.

War Powers, Impeachment, Syria and Kony

Outside of conservative media, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s declaration before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the President should not consult the Congress but look to the globalist power of NATO and the United Nations for direction when deciding to openly engage in foreign war went largely unnoticed.

Questioned by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) about what legal authority the Administration of Barack Obama has to intervene in Syria as it did it Libya, Panetta made one thing remarkably clear: The Administration answers not to the American people, the Congress or the Constitution, but to NATO and the U.N.

“We’re worried about international legal basis, but nobody worried about the fundamental Constitutional legal basis that this Congress has over war,” Sessions said. “We were not asked, stunningly, in direct violation of the War Powers Act, whether or not you believe it’s Constitution [sic], it certainly didn’t comply with it. We spend too much time worrying about the U.N., the Arab League, NATO and too little time, in my opinion, worrying about the elected representatives of the United States. Do you think that you can act without Congress to initiate a no-fly zone in Syria without Congressional approval?”

In answer, Panetta said that the Federal government would first seek permission from International authorities and alert Congress only after the fact.

View the video below for a video of the hearing:

Most Americans, like Sessions, likely would be outraged to know that the Administration takes its marching orders from international interests. But, as Republic Magazine notes in a recent article, this is nothing new:

On December 20, 1945, Truman signed a measure entitled the United Nations Participation Act of 1945 (UNPA), which effectively abolished Congress’s constitutional function in declaring war. Under the UNPA, the U.S. President can “negotiate a special agreement or agreements with the Security Council” concerning the use of American military personnel and facilities for UN “peacekeeping” and “peace enforcement” missions.

UNPA has been used by Truman and his successors — most recently by George W. Bush and Obama — to violate Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 — which grants Congress sole power to declare war — and engage the United States in perpetual and unConstitutional war.

Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul was outraged by Panetta’s assertions and responded on Friday:

For President Obama’s head of the Defense Department to state that international permission, rather than congressional approval, is what would be needed as a legal basis to initiate a no-fly zone over Syria flies in the face of the guidelines established by our Founders… But such actions should no longer come as a surprise. During the conflict in Libya last year, we saw exactly what this President thinks of following the rule of law. President Obama consulted NATO, the United Nations, and the Arab League for permission and authorization to use U.S. military force against Libya. But he utterly ignored the one body that has the legal authority to grant that permission—the U.S. Congress. That was, and still is, unacceptable.

Another lawmaker, Representative Walter B. Jones (R-NC) is also angered by Panetta’s remarks and introduced a resolution (House Concurrent Resolution 107) declaring that the President should be impeached for using the military without the consent of Congress.

The resolution, which is currently in the House Committee on the Judiciary, reads:

Expressing the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.

Whereas the cornerstone of the Republic is honoring Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an act of Congress violates Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under Article I, Section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.

Amid controversy over whether the United States will involve itself in further military adventurism with or without the consent of Congress, new problems are emerging in Afghanistan where the Nation is already at war. Details emerged Monday about an American soldier (some reports indicate more than one drunk American soldier) massacred 16 Afghan civilians, including women and children, as they slept in their homes before torching their bodies. According to The Associated Press, the Taliban have vowed revenge on the United States for the attack, and officials say that the incident will likely damage the relationship between the U.S. and the Afghan puppet government.

Anti-war advocates such as Paul point out that the United States’ failed military adventurism is clearly evidenced by Iraqi backlash against Western ideas, instability in Libya and the horrific actions carried out by some battle-weary and desensitized troops in Afghanistan.

Despite the evidence, propaganda is leading a growing number of Americans and American lawmakers to believe that the United States must intervene elsewhere in order to create a more perfect world. A Syrian rebel going by the name “Syria Danny,” who makes weekly appearances to beg for U.S. military intervention in the country, was recently caught on camera orchestrating gunfire to be heard in the background before the interview began. The Hollywood elite and their puppet masters are also trying to drum up support for further U.S. adventurism in central Africa — where Obama sent 100 U.S.troops last year to Uganda — with an Internet campaign focused on African warlord Joseph Kony. The campaign features an emotional documentary called “Kony 2012” that tells of how the warlord uses children to build his armies and likens him to Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden. Critics say further U.S. actions in the region would equate to colonialism.

Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama writes, “Many African critics unsurprisingly are crying neo-colonialism. This is because these campaigns are disempowering of their own voices. After all the conflict and suffering is affecting them directly regardless of if they hit the re-tweet button or not.”

Despite No Money, Michigan Lawmakers Plan Free College

Democratic lawmakers in Michigan, it seems, have taken the message of youthful 99 percenters to heart, their answer to the “everything should be free” crowd: How does free college tuition sound?

With a plan that teeters on being nothing more than public school for grown-ups, the lawmakers hope to raise $1.8 billion to pay for every student in Michigan to attend a two- or four-year college. The proposal would make every Michigan high school student eligible for a grant of $9,500 per year for educational purposes upon graduation for up to four years, according to CBS Detroit.

The lawmakers say they can pay the hefty price by closing tax loopholes, taxing Internet sales and cutting back on State contracts by 6 percent. They claim that the plan will not cost taxpayers in the State a cent, but it is expected to slash tax credits from many businesses.

According to recent news reports, Michigan’s unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent.

As the legislators look at ways to provide free education for students in the State, some cities such as Detroit, where economic distress has become the norm, are cutting back on basic public services. Police in the city recently unveiled a plan to restructure 911 services and advised residents not to call unless they are certain they will otherwise lose their life.

GOP Establishment Continues Assault On Paul

The mainstream media began by pretending he didn’t exist; when that didn’t work, they began to say he has an unpopular message or tried to brand him as a racist. Now, they simply lie about GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s success in the 2012 primary season.

Paul recently mused about the fact that he draws crowds of thousands of supporters and his fellow candidates routinely draw only a couple hundred at best.

“Quite frankly I don’t think the other candidates get crowds like this, and we get them constantly” Paul said, after an event in Missouri.

Paul said he has a hard time understanding how the crowds he draws — especially in comparison to those of his fellow candidates — don’t equate to popular vote victories. The candidate stopped short of alleging voting fraud on the part of the GOP because he said he had no proof.

The candidate secured his first caucus victory over the weekend, winning 29 percent of the popular vote among the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The media, however, claimed that Mitt Romney actually won the contest because he stands to come away with more delegates.

Curiously, the Paul campaign has pointed out that the popular vote does not always reflect the number of delegates obtained in each State that has already held a caucus or primary. Only when Paul won the popular vote in the territory did the media change how it reported the results.

The Republican Party of the U.S. Virgin Islands reported the results as 112 to Paul (29 percent), 101 to Romney (26 percent), 23 to Santorum (6 percent) and 18 to Gingrich (5 percent).

Researchers: Reconsider LSD For Medical Use

Norwegian researchers studying the results of studies conducted more than 40 years ago say there is convincing evidence that the powerful psychedelic LSD should be re-examined as an option for treatment against addiction and other mental conditions.

The researchers examined six different studies of LSD and alcoholism that were scientifically sound by today’s standards, in which patients were randomly assigned, as if by tossing a coin, to receive either LSD or a comparison treatment. They combined all the data from these studies, involving a total of 536 people. They contend that, to date, this is the most comprehensive study of these experiments conducted from 1966 until 1970.

In the studies some of the alcoholic patients were given a large dose of the drug on one treatment day and some patients were given a small dose of LSD, while control patients received a low dose of LSD or a stimulant drug — or nothing.

“In independent and standardized follow-up examinations, ranging from one to twelve months later, all of the studies showed that the patients who had received a full dose of LSD fared the best. On average, 59 per cent of full-dose patients showed a clear improvement compared with 38 per cent in the other groups,” say Teri Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

By 1971, LSD was banned for non-medical use. Although the drug was and is still permitted as an experimental medical treatment, it became increasingly difficult to conduct clinical trials. Despite the promising studies, LSD was claimed to have no demonstrated medical use. There may be several reasons for this, the researchers explained.

In an era when 10 percent of all Americans are taking prescription antidepressants and more battling various forms of addiction, Krebs and Johansen are among a growing number of mental health professionals advocating research of unconventional psychological treatments.

Goodbye, 5th, 6th And 8th Amendments; Hello, Tyranny

Here’s a quick test. Pictured below are two people who were featured in the news last week, can you name them and why they made the news?

If you are a victim of the mainstream media propaganda machine, your answer is predictable: The woman on the left is, of course, Sandra Fluke, so-called champion of women’s health and the target of crude remarks made by radio shock jock Rush Limbaugh. You likely have no idea who the man on the right is, but you should.

Asked whether or not the Administration of Barack Obama’s assertion that the Federal government can murder American citizens suspected of terrorism for the greater good of the Nation extends to targets on U.S. soil, the man on the right replied, “I’d have to go back, I, uh, I’m not certain whether that was addressed or not.”

The man pictured on the right, by the way, is the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Mueller.

While mainstream media spent last week writing headlines like The Washington Post’s “Limbaugh, Fluke and the GOP’s ‘war on women’” — a controversy oddly, and conveniently, coinciding with International Women’s Day — something much more frightening than Fluke’s having to forgo luxuries while in college to pay for birth control was afoot.

A week ago, Attorney General Eric Holder told an audience at Northwestern University Law School that the President of the United States “in full accordance with the Constitution” can kill American citizens that pose a threat to the Federal government.

Holder added something else that may actually account for Mueller’s confusion: The President’s authority to murder U.S. citizens without due process, trial or conviction is “not limited to the battlefields in Afghanistan” because “we are at war with a stateless enemy, prone to shifting operations from country to country.”

Not to worry, though. Since the Obama Administration and the Federal bureaucracy have opted to do away with three Amendments included in the Bill of Rights, they have offered their own due process of sorts. Three conditions must be met prior to the murder, according to Holder: First, the target must pose an “imminent threat of violent attack against the U.S.” Second, capturing the target is deemed “not feasible” by the Administration. Third, the Federal government must engage the American citizen they intend to kill in a manner consistent with the rules of war: target must be deemed hostile; no excessive collateral damage; the manner chosen for the murder must not inflict unnecessary suffering.

To condense the previous paragraph, it could be said that Holder’s list of requirements for murdering American citizens deemed hostile is the martial law equivalent of what once were the 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments. The Supreme Court offers no concrete definition of the term “martial law,” but most historical and legal experts contend its implementation is marked by things such as: military authority over civil and criminal laws, suspension of Habeas Corpus and the elimination of civil liberties such as the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom of association and freedom of movement. Under this martial law however, public knowledge of an individual’s prosecution is eliminated, as is fate determined by his peers and the guarantee of protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Liberty-defender Judge Andrew Napolitano put Holder’s explanation of why it is acceptable to kill Americans without trial into perspective in a recent FOX News interview, “His [Holder’s] argument is that there is a substituted form of due process. That if the President and his advisors carefully consider the danger of a human being and conclude that that human being needs to be stopped before that person causes anymore danger, then the President can kill him. That’s their argument. There is no case law that stands for that, there is no statue that authorizes it and it directly defies the 5th Amendment to the Constitution.”

Napolitano also notes that the last time the Federal government said it could kill American citizens was during the Civil War, and “even Lincoln said it could only be done during combat.”

“This Federal government, this Administration says it can kill Americans when they’re riding with their children in the car in a desert,” said the Judge.

Most Americans do not believe that any of the above-mentioned information even applies to them and adhere to an “I don’t do anything against the law so why should I worry” mantra. That is a tough argument to back up considering recent developments such as the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, initiatives by the FBI and the Department of Justice to flag mundane activities that many Americans take part in each day as possible indicators of terrorist activity, legislation focused on logging Americans’ every keystroke and Internet search and about 4,500 Federal laws (some of which you could be breaking at this very moment) on the books. How can anyone determine with absolute certainty that the Federal government will not target and kill them — if even by mistake?

Due process is eliminated and the target will be dead once deemed a threat; there is no chance to defend innocence after the fact. Consider the patsies that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are continually baiting into terror plots by trolling extremist websites and providing dummy weapons to bolster the alarmist agenda and assault on liberty: What if the Feds could get the “We Got Another Terrorist” headlines without any effort? What if it were as easy as locating any American who disagrees with the Federal agenda and murdering the person before releasing information to the tune of “President Obama heroically authorizes the killing of extremist John Doe averting thousands of deaths in terror plot”?

The authorities have no shortage of possible targets. With the help of alarmist neocons continuing to push the Muslim-terrorist stereotype and the liberal left in the mainstream media and government painting American patriots as a growing legion of domestic terrorists, the perpetual-fear society is alive and well from sea to shining sea.

Add the 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments to the dead or dying 1st, 2nd, 4th and 10th Amendments, sit back and wait for the rest of the Constitution to follow.

There is one bright side to all of this for those who are so very concerned about Fluke’s contraceptives, Limbaugh’s poor choice of words, the right-left paradigm and any number of nonsense social issues: When the Federal elitists finish the job, they will stop using nonsense to divert Americans’ attention. How you feel about those issues will be decided for you.

Krugman Attacks GOP Over College

Keynesian-leaning economist and columnist for The New York Times Paul Krugman opined in a recent piece that advising students who are exploring college options not to attend institutions beyond their economic means by taking on massive student loan debt is anti-intellectual.

Krugman writes that members of the Republican Party harbor hostility to education which is “embodied in the personas” of GOP Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Referencing recent statements made by the candidates wherein Santorum referred to colleges as “indoctrination mills” and Romney advised a student to shop around for colleges with good programs rather than simply attending the most expensive, Krugman writes:

Wow. So much for America’s tradition of providing student aid. And Mr. Romney’s remarks were even more callous and destructive than you may be aware, given what’s been happening lately to American higher education.

For the past couple of generations, choosing a less expensive school has generally meant going to a public university rather than a private university. But these days, public higher education is very much under siege, facing even harsher budget cuts than the rest of the public sector. Adjusted for inflation, state support for higher education has fallen 12 percent over the past five years, even as the number of students has continued to rise; in California, support is down by 20 percent.

Krugman goes on to suggest that by putting less importance on government-funded college tuition assistance, Republicans will hold back less affluent and minority children and are taking a step away from an American tradition.

The National Inflation Association, which released the film “The College Conspiracy” in 2011, argues a case very opposite Krugman’s, saying that college is the largest scam in U.S. history. One NIA press release says:

If 70.1% of high school graduates enroll in a college or university, how does a college degree give you an advantage over the rest of the population? Back in the early 1960s, Americans didn’t need to go to college. We were a creditor nation with a strong manufacturing base. With an unemployment rate of only 5%, jobs were available to almost everybody. Less than 50% of American high school graduates enrolled into college. For those who did attend college and graduate with a degree, it was actually something special that made you stand out from the rest of the field, because not everybody had one.

American college tuition inflation has been out of control for the past decade. During the financial crisis of late-2008/early-2009, almost all goods and services in America at least temporarily declined in price. The only service in America that continued to rise in price throughout the financial crisis, besides health care, was college education. Despite real unemployment in America reaching 22%, students were brainwashed into believing that if they were lucky enough to be blessed with the privilege to get half a million dollars into debt to obtain a college degree, they will be on a path to riches and have a guaranteed successful career; whereas those who don’t attend college are destined to be failures in life.

View a portion of the NIA film below:

Public, Private Educators Have Differing Views Of Obama

A majority of college presidents, except for those in for-profit higher education, say they plan to vote for President Barack Obama this fall, despite the fact that most believe he has failed to deliver on higher education promises.

According to a survey conducted by USA Today’s Inside Higher Ed, 65.1 percent of college presidents say they plan to cast a vote for Obama this fall. Support for the President was strongest in public higher education with 75 percent at public doctoral and master’s institutions, 85 percent at public baccalaureate institutions and 66 percent at community colleges. The lowest level of support was in for-profit higher education, where only 29 percent of presidents said they plan to vote for Obama.

Responding to whether Obama has “fulfilled the promise that many in higher education” saw for him four years ago, only 36 percent of presidents answered yes. The figure was lowest in the for-profit sector with only 18 percent believing so. Private colleges have clashed with the Obama Administration several times in recent years over stifling Department of Education mandates.

USA Today contends that heavy support for Obama among public college presidents stems from a lack of a pro-education agenda among the Republican candidates. Only 10 percent of all college presidents believed that the Republican candidates have offered a higher education vision. Though nearly half, 44 percent, of presidents at for profit institutions believe that the Republicans have offered pro-education policy.

Patriots Are Radical, Racist, Hate-Filled Terror Suspects

On the heels of the National Defense Authorization Act’s indefinite detention provision and Attorney General Eric Holder’s unfortunate “the U.S. government has the right to kill you” speech and while the word “terrorist” is used ever more loosely, left-wing activists groups are ramping up their campaigns against those who believe in smaller government.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (also known more accurately as the Southern Preposterous Lie Center here at Personal Liberty Digest), long known and called out for its shameless exploitation of race for profit, has released its latest report profiling hate in America: “The ‘Patriot’ Movement Explodes.” The word “patriot” as defined over the course of about 3,000 words by the author, however, varies a bit from Webster’s definition and the likely definition of most people who feel patriotic: “One who loves and loyally or zealously supports one’s own country.”

The author instead likens the word “patriot” to any person who is affected by “superheated fears generated by economic dislocation, a proliferation of demonizing conspiracy theories, the changing racial makeup of America, and the prospect of four more years under a black president who many on the far right view as an enemy to their country.” The author also, interestingly, describes the “Patriot movement” as something that began in 1994 as “a response to what was seen as violent government repression of dissident groups at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and near Waco, Texas, in 1993, along with anger at gun control and the Democratic Clinton Administration in general.” The “Patriot movement,” as defined by the SPLC author, peaked in 1996 “after the Oklahoma city bombing” and then faded as the new millennium began.

Following the alarmist introduction, the author tells his readers that the so-called “Patriot movement” is again on the uptick, growing from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 in 2009, and again in 2010 to 824, and then, last year, jumping to 1,274. The title of the report and the groups contained under the author’s definition of “patriot” likely alarm the everyday conservative who may spend time on weekends organizing for like-minded political candidates, lecturing friends about the value of our Founders’ vision laid forth in the Constitution of the United States, decrying the continual expansion of an ever-stifling Federal bureaucracy or waving signs on the local courthouse steps with Tea Party peers.

Following are some of the subgroups into which the alarmists at SPLC divide patriots:

  • Anti-Gay: Patriotic Americans as defined by SPLC can be members of one of 27 militantly anti-gay groups that are involved in “efforts to ban or repeal marriage equality and what seemed to be an intensification of anti-gay propaganda in certain quarters.”
  • Anti-Muslim: The author contends that people who consider themselves to be American patriots may be involved in one of the 30 groups that exist throughout the Nation that vilify and commit hate crimes against Muslims.
  • Black Separatists: Black Americans who consider themselves patriots, have an unfavorable view of President Barack Obama or who believe the Constitution is an important document are likely members of the small portion of African-Americans belonging to the greater sovereign citizens movement, according to SPLC.
  • Christian Identity: Patriots who are also Christians may believe that Jewish people are direct descendants of Satan and people of color are “soulless mud people” in SPLC’s view.
  • Ku Klux Klan: The SPLC believes that the growing Patriot movement also coincides with a growing number of Ku Klux Klan members in the country.
  • Neo-Confederates: Centered on the Alabama League of the South, a group founded in 1994 with the alleged goal to organize a second Southern secession, there are 32 neo-Confederate organizations that SPLC says American patriots may belong to.
  • Racist Skinhead Groups: SPLC believes that American patriots could belong to any number of racist skinhead organizations — groups that have been defined over the past several decades as being fond of punk rock, anarchy and racism.
  • White Nationalist Groups: In SPLC’s view, patriotic Americans may be white nationalists, similar to those who protested school integration and racial equality during the Civil Rights era.

Having known many American citizens and politicians who define themselves as Tea Party Patriots, or simply patriots, and having attended Tea Party events where signs emblazoned with patriotic messages are proudly waived, this author has never encountered a member or supporter of one of the above-mentioned groups. Furthermore, it is probably safe to assume that most of those reading this article who are Constitution lovers, Tea Party activists, Ron Paul supporters, patriots, etc., have never been affiliated with or known someone who is affiliated with one of the hate movements. That’s not to say there is no hate or extremism in the United States; there is. But SPLC covers only one side of the political hate spectrum — hence, the moniker we have given it– in an effort to retain its extremist liberal donors; the unfortunate consequence, however, is the organization must label people who are not extremists as such so they have something to write about.

The SPLC has given conservative Americans a valuable lesson in liberal semantics with its latest report, a perfect demonstration of the reason liberal mouthpieces get away with saying things similar to things for which conservatives are attacked. With reports like this, the SPLC makes it fine for Democratic Representative Maxine Waters to say the “Tea Party can go straight to hell,” union thugs like Jimmy Hoffa to declare war on Tea Party “sons of bitches” and mouthpieces like Bill Maher and The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd to make disparaging and unsolicited remarks about prominent conservative women while conservative shock-jocks like Rush Limbaugh are attacked vehemently by the liberal media for the same behavior — even when commenting on women who flaunt their own premarital promiscuity before the U.S. Congress. It is excusable, because in the SPLC’s view all Tea Party members, conservatives and self-proclaimed patriots are likely involved in any number of hate crimes and reprehensible acts.

The latest report (which, by the way, was a top headline for the liberal Huffington Post on Thursday) is only the latest installment in the organization’s ongoing campaign against conservatism for financial gain.

Wesley Pruden, former editor of The Washington Times, credited the organization with inventing the new racism, writing in one editorial: “Campaigns of smear and guilt by association have always proven lucrative in terms of fundraising. Realizing the decline in the size of their most lucrative opponent, the SPLC quickly concocted a new one. Immediately, a new racism was to be found — racists, nativists, xenophobes and hate-mongers were suddenly to be discovered lurking under every rock. Particularly attractive targets were immigration reformists who wanted American laws enforced and illegal immigration halted. A new McCarthyism was born.”

With the help of eager liberal allies from the media, the halls of Congress and the White House, SPLC will continue to rake in money from donors terrified of villainous, prejudice anti-government conservatives. All the while, those who believe the Constitution to be the supreme law of the land, those who love the Nation, call themselves patriots and believe it is the duty of the people to keep Federal tyranny in check, become the ultimate victims: the new face of terror in the United States.