Part Two Of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ To Hit Theaters This Fall

The second part of the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” — the novel that every proponent of free-market capitalism and individual liberty should read — is due to hit theaters next fall.

The book, which was published in 1957, is lauded as Rand’s greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In the novel Rand dramatizes her unique philosophy through an intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics and sex, leaving readers pondering a questions throughout: Who is John Galt?

The story follows the book’s female protagonist, Dagny Taggart, as she struggles to manage a transcontinental railroad amid the pressures and restrictions of massive bureaucracy. Her reaction to a libertarian group seeking an end to government regulation is first negative, but is later modified in her encounter with a utopian community, Galt’s Gulch, whose members regard self-determination rather than collective responsibility as the highest ideal.

[pl_amazon_book_order src=”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=perslibedige-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0452011876&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr”]“Atlas Shrugged” epitomizes Rand’s philosophy of individualistic Objectivism which is based on the following tenants:

  • Reality exists independent of consciousness.
  • Human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception.
  • One can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic.
  • The proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness (or rational self-interest).
  • The only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism.
  • The role of art in human life is to transform humans’ metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form — a work of art — that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.

Rand’s works and philosophy have influenced thousands of people throughout the years, including political figures like Presidential candidate Ron Paul and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, among others.

The release of the second part of Rand’s iconic novel follows the release of part one of the series last April.

Part one trailer:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UaZx_DIKgI&w=560&h=315]
Part two teaser:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo8SuRgqdTI&w=560&h=315]

Rand discusses the difference between liberty and socialism:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1RxKW-P5V8&w=420&h=315]

Rule Change Allows More Government Monitoring

The Federal government is now allowed to store personal information about private citizens with absolutely no ties to terrorism for up to five years, expanding previous authority under new rules implemented by the Administration of Barack Obama.

Before the change, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was supposed to immediately destroy intelligence information about Americans when they were deemed to have no clear ties to terrorism. Government officials who want the right to spy on every American have used terror attempts to justify their actions.

“Following the failed terrorist attack in December 2009, representatives of the counterterrorism community concluded it is vital for NCTC to be provided with a variety of datasets from various agencies that contain terrorism information,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement last Thursday. “The ability to search against these datasets for up to five years on a continuing basis as these updated guidelines permit will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”

Officials claim the guidelines will make the Nation safer by making sure relevant terrorism information is readily accessible to analysts, according to The Washington Post.

Earlier this year, the FBI and the Department of Justice released a series of flyers that outline possible indicators of terrorist plotting. The flyers noted many obscure activities that many Americans do every day, such as paying for things with cash, taking photos, etc. Over the past several months, the government has taken steps to make it possible to subject nearly any person to the scrutiny of a terror investigation.

Marine Who Criticized Obama Faces Discharge

A Marine sergeant who made online comments vowing to stand up to the Constitution and criticizing President Barack Obama and his policies is facing dismissal from the Corps for his actions.

According to The Associated Press, Sgt. Gary Stein, who started a Facebook page called Armed Forces Tea Party, was informed by the Marines that he violated a Pentagon policy barring troops from political activities.

The nine-year Marine veteran said he started the page to encourage fellow service members to exercise their free speech rights. Stein was first cautioned by his superiors at Camp Pendleton in 2010, after he launched the Facebook page and criticized Obama’s healthcare overhaul. He volunteered to take down the page while he reviewed the rules at the request of his superiors. Upon determining that he was not in violation of the rules, Stein relaunched the page.

Last week, in response to a post in which Stein said he would refuse to follow unlawful orders from the President, Stein’s superiors barred him from using social media sites on government computers.

The Marines say Stein failed to follow Pentagon directives that say military personnel in uniform cannot sponsor a political club; participate in any TV or radio program or group discussion that advocates for or against a political party, candidate or cause; or speak at any event promoting a political movement. Officers also are not allowed to use contemptuous words against senior officials, including the defense secretary or the President.

Stein said in a statement: “The allegations drummed up against me are no more than an agenda by the Marine Corps to use me as an example. I have never spoken on behalf of the Marine Corps or in uniform.  I have stayed within guidelines DOD Directive 1344.10 and made sure to. If I am guilty of anything it would be that I am American, a freedom loving Conservative, hell bent on defending the constitution and preserving Americas greatness. I am no more the Leader of the Armed Forces Tea Party than any other of 18,000 members are. I just happen to be normal guy who started a facebook page and who hold the Tea Party values close my heart and believes the Tea Party can enact real change in this county. We are all leaders in the Tea Party!”

Americans Victimized By Etch A Sketch Politics For Too Long

The Republican Presidential primary race is a joke, and Barack Obama will have four more years to continue to radically reshape the United States.

Mitt Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom summed up why Republicans are poised to lose in the fall during an appearance on CNN Wednesday: The guy who will most likely be the GOP’s choice in the general election has the conviction of an Etch A Sketch.

When asked whether Romney’s very conservative rhetoric throughout the primary season would hurt his chances of wooing moderate voters in a campaign against Obama, Fehrnstrom replied: “I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch — you shake it all up and start over again.”

The remark — which should certainly come as no surprise to real conservatives, because Romney is essentially Obama-lite — represents one absolute truth: Except for Ron Paul, there is no true conservative running in the GOP primary.

Even if Romney, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich had a chance to beat Obama, it wouldn’t matter. Look past the phony rhetoric and it is easy to see that Romney, Santorum and Gingrich all represent the same problem for voters. If any one of these men gets the job, nothing is going to change. The destruction of the United States is simply a consequence of other goals shared by the elite within the parties of both establishment Republicans and establishment Democrats.

The shared ambitions between the most powerful people within the two parties are:

  • Lining the pockets of the people at the highest levels within the military-industrial complex, the medical establishment and the Federal government while doing away with individual liberty.
  • And dehumanizing and demoralizing the greater American populace until submission to the will of the elite comes without a fight.

When the goal is accomplished, the United States will have reached the end of the road to tyranny that it has been slowly traveling for more than a century. Elections will no longer be necessary.

The number of people throughout the Nation who see the writing on the wall is growing. They are investing money in precious metals, food and tradable goods in anticipation of the economic collapse that the political elite have orchestrated. They are stocking weapons in anticipation of widespread social disorder and are visiting websites like Personal Liberty Digest™ to learn vital skills and find out about the latest efforts of elitists to control every aspect of their lives while they still can. These are people who demand only the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — things that are becoming foreign ideas to citizens of the United States.

Sadly, there exists a greater number of Americans who remain slave to the false left-right paradigm, many of whom feel the Federal government’s purpose is to make decisions and care for each and every one of its citizens. These people are willing to relinquish the liberty of all Americans for that care.

If there were any hope of the United States returning to its former glory rather than taking its place among the failed empires of history, it would only be the result of a painful process of reigning in spending and dependence on government. It would surely be an uncomfortable process. Paul is the only Presidential candidate who has been willing to admit this, and he is the only one who has provided a plan that would really undo the damage that has been done to the greatest Nation in history. Paul’s plan would cut $1 trillion in Federal spending during his first year in office, give young Americans the ability to opt out of Social Security, provide block grants to States to pay for social welfare programs, reduce the Federal workforce by 10 percent, cut taxes drastically and repeal overreaching Federal regulation. The candidate has also called for an end to unConstitutional military adventurism and restoration of Americans’ liberty.

Is it any wonder the establishment has made every effort to shut Paul up? Even if he were unable to achieve all of his goals, a Paul Presidency would badly damage the elitist agenda. For more than three decades, Paul has warned the Nation about the damage being done at the hands of the political elite with unwavering consistency that is even recognized by his harshest critics. It is time for Americans to reject phony slogans like hope and change, flip-flopping politicians and the top-down destruction of their Nation. This is no time for Etch A Sketch politics.

Obama Popular On The Internet

The Internet has become increasingly involved in political campaigns over the course of the past decade; new research shows that Barack Obama has been more successful than any of his Republican challengers at harnessing online campaign power.

According to Nielson Media Research, Obama’s re-election website had 4.2 million unique monthly visitors over age 18 in January compared to a combined 2.9 million visitors to the campaign sites of Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum during the same month.

  • Ron Paul’s site had 830,000 visitors.
  • Mitt Romney’s site had 773,000 visitors.
  • Rick Santorum’s site had 696,000 visitors.
  • Newt Gingrich’s site had 609,000 visitors.

Women made up more than 60 percent of all traffic to Santorum’s site, the largest gender split of any candidate. Only Paul and Gingrich drew more men than women with 56 percent and 51 percent respectively.

The research indicates that Paul drew the most visitors in the coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic with 36.8 percent of his visitors falling into the category. Obama, for whom young voters were a key constituency in 2008, was visited mostly by people between the ages of 50 and 64 — only 17.1 percent were 18 to 34.

The information comes after a recent POLITICO report that describes how the Obama campaign has invested millions of dollars in sophisticated Internet messaging, marketing and fundraising efforts that rely on personal data about voters collected on the Internet that is sometimes offered up voluntarily — like posts on a Facebook page — but sometimes not.

Your TV Soon May Be Watching You

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984,” the time protagonist Winston Smith spends inside of his home mostly is taken up either hiding from the all-seeing screen that hangs upon his wall or taking direct orders from it.

Orwell writes, “It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself–anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide…”

While it may not be a tool of a totalitarian regime (yet), a new breed of televisions is raising concerns of an Orwellian future among privacy advocates. According to the Daily Mail, new products from Samsung, including plasma and HDTVs, are closer than ever to personal computers meant to sit in your living room and include built-in HD cameras, microphones and face- and speech-recognition software.

Critics say the new television technology opens homes of unsuspecting people up to hackers and possibly companies seeking information for marketing purposes, and there is no way to disable the cameras and microphones to ensure privacy.

Gary Merson, who runs a website called HD guru, said: “What concerns us is the integration of both an active camera and microphone. A Samsung representative tells us you can deactivate the voice feature; however this is done via software, not a hard switch like the one you use to turn a room light on or off. And unlike other TVs, which have cameras and microphones as add-on accessories connected by a single, easily removable USB cable, you can’t just unplug these sensors.”

No Food For The Homeless

New York City’s nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg has again issued a regulation in his city that many New Yorkers find ridiculous. Now, no food can be donated to homeless shelters in the city by individuals because the government can’t assess salt, fat and fiber content of the sustenance.

According to the National Center For Public Policy Research, Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond said the complete ban on food donations is consistent with Bloomberg’s emphasis on “improving nutrition for all New Yorkers.”

In an opinion piece in the New York Post, Jeff Stier, a critic of the policy, writes:

This is very different from another recent high-profile food-police case. When a North Carolina prekindergarten aide took away a 4-year-old’s home-packed lunch last month, the school defused the incident by blaming a teacher’s bad judgment.

Here, there’s no teacher to scapegoat. The ban on food donations is the direct result of work by many city agencies, all led by a mayoral task force.

Fine, the city’s making enough nutritious food available to our homeless. (Court mandates require it.) But that’s no excuse for turning away charity that brings a tiny bit of joy into these lives.

The Bloomberg administration is so obsessed with meddling in how we all live that it’s now eating away at the very best that New York citizens have to deliver.

Bloomberg said that the city’s shelters do not accept donations for safety reasons, according to CBS New York.

Ron Paul Still Going Strong

Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul is continuing to battle the establishment and moving along through the primary season despite efforts to quiet his message of liberty.

A recent Business Insider report says Paul’s strategy of sweeping up delegates is paying off. The candidate appears to have taken a majority of delegates in Missouri, despite having lost the State’s nonbinding primary to Rick Santorum.

“We did do real well in Missouri,” Paul campaign adviser Jesse Benton said. “Some county conventions are still going on, but we’ve got good turnout. Anecdotal evidence shows we won multiple caucuses, and it looks like we’re going to pick up the majority of delegates.”

Paul has reportedly taken third place in the Illinois primary. During his appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on Tuesday, Paul said he is counting on a brokered convention to gain some extra delegates from Mitt Romney.

“The second go-round, they’re not committed to him,” Paul said. “Then they can vote their conscience. Then I believe we’ll get a lot of those votes.”

During his appearance on Leno’s show, Paul explained his views on abortion, discussed allegations that he and Romney had formed an alliance, and blasted the other three GOP Presidential candidates for using Secret Service protection, calling it a form of welfare.

“You know, you’re having the taxpayers pay to take care of somebody and I’m an ordinary citizen,” Paul said. “I would think I should pay for my own protection and it costs, I think, more than $50,000 a day to protect those individuals. It’s a lot of money.”

Paul was also in the news earlier in the day Tuesday when he blasted Representative Paul Ryan and House Republicans for a budget proposal released this week in a campaign statement.

From the statement:

What is really disappointing is that the GOP budget assumes that the federal government should continue to do everything, or at least almost everything, it is currently doing. We will never have a balanced federal budget, low taxes, economic prosperity, and individual liberty unless Congress stops trying to run the world, run the economy, and run our lives.

If Republicans really want to win in November, they will have to draw a clear distinction between themselves and Obama’s disastrous agenda. And producing a budget that does not seriously address our nation’s debt crisis will not distinguish them at all in the eyes of the American people.

While the GOP proposal is similar to budget proposals released by other Republican Presidential candidates, Paul previously released a plan that promises $1 trillion in cuts in Federal spending in his first year if elected.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zy_XJKJqhU&w=560&h=315]

How The Devil Has Won

Many Americans likely remember the iconic voice and lively commentaries of conservative radioman Paul Harvey who broadcast for more than 60 years until his death in 2009. On Tuesday, Harvey’s familiar voice surfaced once again as one of his more prophetic commentaries made its way through the viral waves of the blogosphere.

The monologue, entitled “If I Were The Devil,” is attributed to Harvey and has been circulated in various forms via the Internet since around 1999. Harvey’s original version dates back to 1964, according to Snopes.

Harvey’s monologue, in each of the slightly altered forms it has taken over the years, tells how if he were the devil he would set about to take over the world by first inducing moral decline in its most powerful Nation. Listen to a version Harvey reportedly broadcast on ABC Radio on April 3, 1965 below:
 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJc8Mzg0C-c&w=420&h=315]

With so many distractions from an always-on 24-hour news cycle and the constant creation of new information thanks to the Internet, how is it possible that a 47-year old broadcast from a dead conservative radio host went viral this week? Perhaps Americans are concerned and Harvey’s words are more striking than ever before as the Nation continues to slide into a condition that many conservatives would say is decidedly not American at all.

Below is a transcript of a different form of Harvey’s monologue published on the FOX Nation website Tuesday. Throughout the text, links to recent news stories have been included as examples of how the moral decline discussed in the commentary is rampant in the United States today:

If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.”   To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square.” In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington”…

If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

Paul Harvey, Good Day.

This is only a small selection of available recent reports that coincide with the Harvey monologue, so maybe it is no surprise it went viral. It appears to be quite relevant to worried conservatives.

Cyberbullying Laws Could Lead To Internet Censorship

Because protecting copyright holders did not seem reason enough for American citizens to go along with total government censorship of the Internet with bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act, lawmakers have chosen a new vehicle for censorship: protecting children.

As many as five States — Delaware, Kentucky, Indiana, Maine and New York — are working to implement cyberbullying laws that critics say could make surfing the Web a legal minefield.

According to USA Today, the legislation is aimed at “bringing our laws into the digital age and the 21st century,” said Senator Jeffrey Klein (D-N.Y.) who sponsored a bill to criminalize cyberbullying. “When I was growing up, you had a tangible bully and a fight after school. Now you have hordes of bullies who are terrorizing over the Internet or other forms of social media.”

Some examples of the State laws:

  • In Indiana, a proposed bill would give schools more authority to punish students for off-campus activities such as cyberbullying from a computer not owned by the school.
  • In Maine, a proposal would define bullying and cyberbullying, specify responsibilities for reporting incidents of bullying and require schools to adopt a policy to address bullying.
  • In Delaware, meetings are under way to decide how a new cyberbullying policy would regulate off-campus behavior.

Critics say that the new legislative trend toes the line of infringing upon free speech. Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, told USA Today the movement in the legislatures and the courts is focusing on the disciplinary system and is shortsighted, saying: “You’re not going to be able to punish people into being more tolerant.”

Internet censorship in the name of protecting children was also proposed by SOPA author Lamar Smith (R-Texas) recently. Through the Protect Our Children From Online Pornographers Act (PCFIPA), Smith proposes some of the same measures included in his previous wildly unpopular attempt at Internet censorship.

Ryan: Budget For Real Spending Discipline

House Republicans introduced an ambitious, if risky during an election year, budget plan to restructure the way government operates and set the Nation on a course to eliminate its deficits by 2040.

The proposal, authored by Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would reduce debt by reshaping Medicare and Medicaid while deeply cutting other domestic spending and reshaping the tax code to give Americans lower tax rates.

The plan will be rejected by the Democratic Senate, though The Washington Post  reports that it is likely less intensive than most Tea Party conservatives would consider ideal. Ryan’s plan, which he drafted with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (Ore.), would turn Medicaid spending into a block grant program and cut food stamps and other social welfare programs. The plan, like past GOP budget proposals, also calls for offering seniors retiring in future years payments with which to buy private health insurance coverage along with a traditional fee-for-service option to alleviate Democratic concerns over the restructuring. Many of the budget plan proposals have proven to be anathema to most Democratic lawmakers in the past.

In a recent opinion piece in The Wall Street JournalRyan defends his proposals, “Our budget’s Medicare reforms make no changes for those in or near retirement. For those who will retire a decade from now, our plan provides guaranteed coverage options financed by a premium-support payment. And this year, our budget adds even more choices for seniors, including a traditional fee-for-service Medicare option.”

The timing of the plan’s release is expected to make Republican willingness to make deep cuts and change the way healthcare funding is handled a key issue for Democrats in 2012.

Ryan also reiterates the GOP’s desire to simplify the tax code with the plan similar to those offered by both GOP Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. It replaces the current six brackets of the tax system with just two tax levels: a 10 percent marginal tax for low-wage earners and 25 percent for those with higher incomes. Corporate taxes would also be slashed from 35 percent to 25 percent, and corporate taxes for overseas profits mostly would be eliminated under the Ryan proposal.

To offset the lower tax rates, which Republicans contend will spur economic growth, the budget proposal allocates $1.028 trillion in Federal spending for fiscal year 2013; the spending allocation will also likely raise a stink among Democrats at $19 billion less than the cap imposed after last summer’s contentious debt ceiling negotiations.

Paul, however, says his plan is the only way to turn around the U.S. economy without making dangerous sacrifices, “Like last year, our budget delivers real spending discipline. It does this not through indiscriminate cuts that endanger our military, but by ending the epidemic of crony politics and government overreach that has weakened confidence in the nation’s institutions and its economy. And it strengthens the safety net by returning power to the states, which are in the best position to tailor assistance to their specific populations.”

Democratic critics say the Ryan plan is a surefire way to make Congressional budget negotiations the same tedious embarrassment that they were last year.


Editor’s note: It’s time to make your submissions for this month’s You Sound Off! feature, which will run March 28. Get your submission in by March 26. It should be no more than 750 words (if they are longer, we probably won’t read them). We will select the one or two we think are the best of the week to publish. We reserve the right to edit for grammar and style but will try not to alter the meaning.

Send your submissions to yousoundoff@personalliberty.com. Please include your name, address and telephone number (only your name will be published) so we can contact you if we need to clarify something. Anonymous submissions will not be considered.–BL

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:
 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sa49iocFTSE]
 
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.