Obama Budget Would Cap Retirement Savings

Congress is very unlikely to approve President Barack Obama’s recommended budget, submitted Wednesday after much delay.

But if the President got his way, Congress would cap the amount of money people could save in tax-preferred retirement accounts so that no account could earn an annual return of more than $205,000. As U.S. News reports, that means accounts that today hold about $3 million would have reached their savings limit under Obama’s plan.

While $3 million is a lot of money, it’s not as much as it used to be — and that trend is certain to continue. And, whether it’s an extravagant amount, for those who’ve managed to save the money or simply a cushion intended to last a retired family 20 or 30 years, it’s not the dollar figure that should raise eyebrows.

What’s sinister about the scheme is the way in which it reveals Obama’s liberal, regressive attitude toward capitalism and wealth. It stems from the punitive idea that those who earn a lot of money no longer need money as much as others do, and that it’s government’s job to redistribute it.

Obama said as much, telling a POLITICO reporter that “some wealthy individuals are able to accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.”

Where’s the incentive to enter the free market when the government is standing in line to confiscate the wealth you’ve worked for?

Gun Grab Gets A Name, Rand Calls Out Dems At Black College, Iran’s Mystery Time Machine, Texas Goes After TSA, Youth Ain’t What It Used To Be: Thursday Morning News Roundup 4-11-2013

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

  • When you want to take away citizens’ powers, always bury your motives in a lie, one that shows reverences for the very powers you want to seize. Days of Congressional discussion over a Federal gun-control bill has produced an agreement between key players from both political parties, and they’ve given the resulting piece of forthcoming legislation a name: The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act. Was there something wrong with that other act called “The 2nd Amendment?”

 

  • Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spoke to an assembly at historically black Howard College Wednesday, telling the crowd that the GOP isn’t their historical enemy — despite the party’s futile and halfhearted attempts in recent years to woo to black voters. Slow going for Rand, though. Cops tackled one guy who unfurled a banner that said something about white supremacy. And another student told Paul he doesn’t want a hands-off government; he wants one “that is going to help me.”

 

  • Not that you’d want to, but a new gizmo developed by an Iranian inventor purports to “bring the future to you” by accurately predicting the next “five to eight years of the future life of any individual.” The thing, which isn’t described in any detail at all, evidently predicts Iran will be going to war soon. See? It works!

 

  • Texas is already beloved for its “hands-off” attitude toward property and privacy, so it makes sense that a bill before the legislature could make it a crime for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents to touch you there without probable cause. One Democratic party pooper panned the idea, saying he gets “tired of Texas playing chicken with the Federal government all the time.”

 

  • A study in the European Journal of Cardiology has found that young adults today are so unhealthy that, on average, they might as well be 15 years older than they actually are. Put another way, they’re 15 “virtual” years older than their parents were at the same age. Pass the Doritos.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Nationwide Push Urging Retailers To Stop Selling Toxic Products Starts Today

A major push begins today urging high-profile U.S. retailers to crack down on selling a host of products that contain chemicals with unsafe — or unproven — track records.

The campaign seeks a commitment from Wal-Mart, Target and other major retailers to devise a plan to stop selling products that contain any of more than 100 chemicals opponents identified as unsafe in various studies and regulated by one or more Federal measures, such as the Toxic Control Substances Act, issued over the past several decades.

The campaign represents a collaboration between nearly 50 health and environmental advocacy organizations that are arguing that most retailers don’t know what ingredients are in the products they sell. Advocates say those products traverse the spectrum of everyday use: clothing, vinyl flooring, shower curtains, packaging, shampoos and bottles, among hundreds of others.

Some retailers and industry advocates claim they have already moved to self-regulate, according to a report Wednesday. Some stores stopped selling products that contain BPAs before the Feds could get around to banning them, for example. And Target, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and others have imposed their own restrictions on toxins such as polyvinyl chloride, coal tar, formaldehyde, phthalates and parabens.

But one organizer said retailers aren’t doing enough. “[T]he bites so far are too small for the scale of the problem,” said Andy Igrejas of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Homes. His organization, along with groups like the Breast Cancer Awareness Fund, are sending a letter — which they haven’t yet made public — urging retailers to identify and halt the sale of products that contain chemicals which have been linked to cancer, infertility, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.

That letter will go out to Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Kroger, Walgreens, Home Depot, Lowe’s, CVS, Best Buy and Safeway. So far, organizers aren’t talking about coming up with repercussions against retailers that don’t heed the call to eliminate toxins from the products they sell. They simply want to make sure the public knows the stores they frequent are being called upon, at the least, to require their suppliers to disclose what’s in their products.

Colorado Sheriffs Will Sue Over Gun Laws

When the police think that regular citizens — people with whom they must constantly interact in their work — are better off with guns than without them, shouldn’t the people making the laws those cops have to enforce be listening?

More than half the 62 elected sheriffs in the State of Colorado are preparing a lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of broad gun-control laws the Legislature passed and the Governor signed last month.

The Denver Post reported Wednesday that 37 of the State’s sheriffs are presently involved, although more are likely to join. It’s not known yet whether the suit would be filed in State or Federal court.

The suit would take aim at three gun-control measures signed into law by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on March 20 — eight months after a mass murder at an Aurora theater elicited a call from liberal legislators, governors, Congressmen and the Administration of President Barack Obama to create new laws expanding government’s role in determining who can own what type of gun.

Together, the Colorado legislation limits magazine capacity to 15 rounds, requires universal background checks that encompass private gun sales and then requires the customer to pay for the background check.

At the time the new measures passed, a Republican State Senator voiced what gun-owning Coloradans were thinking: “I’m telling you right now: I will not obey this law. I will willfully and purposefully and civilly disobey this law.”

The sheriffs’ proposed lawsuit would argue the Colorado laws violate the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms, as well as the 14th Amendment’s protection of citizens’ immunities from state infringement.

Sheriffs’ support for the suit isn’t quite unanimous, but it’s gaining momentum. One sheriff who said he won’t be signing on attributed his reluctance not to any disagreement he had with the spirit of the suit; rather, he said he just doesn’t believe in suing “anybody for anything.”

Michigan Man Victorious In Fight To Keep Anti-Obama Signs On His Own Property

A Michigan township challenged local farmer Vern Verduin’s right to display political banners (located on his own property) critical of President Barack Obama’s fiscal policy. They lost.

Officials in Gaines Township had cited and fined Verduin for allegedly violating the local sign ordinance, which forbids political signage unless it’s near an election season, while allowing commercial signage anytime. But a district judge tossed out the charges and ruled the Township’s ordinance is unConstitutional on the grounds it violates 1st Amendment protections of free speech.

Verduin’s signs, which were displayed on two tractor trailers he owns, read:

MARXISM/SOCIALISM

=POVERTY & HUNGER

And:

OBAMA’S “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”

8% UNEMPLOYMENT

16 TRILLION DEBT

Both vehicles were parked on his own property, where Verduin operates a 40-acre cattle farm. District Judge Steven Servaas ruled that the Gaines Township ordinance violated the 1st Amendment because it favored commercial advertising over free political speech.

Obama 1st U.S. President To Spend $4 Trillion In A Single Year

In conjunction with President Barack Obama’s long-awaited Federal budget request Wednesday, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released projections that show the President is on track to be the first in the Nation’s history to surpass $4 trillion in spending in the span of a single year.

Although not adjusted for inflation, it doesn’t take complicated formulas to understand the difference between the $450 billion deficit Obama inherited upon taking office in 2008 and the $972 billion deficit the OMB projects this year — down from a high of $1.4 trillion high in 2009.

The OMB expects 2016 to be the year when the President’s spending plan will exceed the $ trillion mark.

Rhode Island Gun Law Leaves Campus Cops Holding Billy Clubs And Pepper Spray In Search For Alleged Gunman

When a call came in last week reporting someone had seen a gunman on the campus of the University of Rhode Island, the campus police sprang into action, placing the school on lockdown.

But had there been a gunman (it turned out to be a false alarm), the cops would literally have been bringing sticks to a gunfight. State law in Rhode Island doesn’t allow deputized campus police to carry guns.

State police can carry guns onto campuses, but reports indicate they weren’t at the scene in last week’s incident until 20 minutes after the call.

The scare prompted State Representative and retired cop Joe Almeida to redouble his efforts to get a bill passed that would permit campus police officers who’ve been properly trained to carry firearms while on the job. No word on the number of students and faculty who’d like for that Constitutional power to extend to themselves as well.

Texas Professor Under Fire For Anti-Gun Assignment, Obama Budget D.O.A., Equal Pay Day In D.C., Muppets Can’t Take Manhattan, Student On Lone Star Stabber: ‘We Wish We Could Protect Ourselves With Guns’: Wednesday Morning News Roundup 4-10-2013

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

  • An art professor at Midwestern State University, located in Wichita Falls, Texas, is in hot water with the school administration after evidently asking students to make anti-gun posters for a personal project in which she was involved. The State doesn’t allow university professors to use their positions in any way that would ask students to support the instructors’ personal agendas or beliefs.
  • The President doesn’t (yet) get to enforce the annual budget recommendation he submits to Congress. But it’s customary for the executive branch to offer its version of how the Nation should overspend its money early each year. Now that it’s arrived, President Barack Obama’s budget (which was expected in February) at least has built up a strong bipartisan consensus: No one likes it.
  • Obama also recognized April 9 as national “Equal Pay Day” to push for parity between men and women in the workplace, but a look at the salaries of top-level staffers in the White House reveals the Obama Administration itself would be a good place to start.
  • Imagine living in a city where the worst thing local government has to worry about is people who dress up like Elmo, Mickey and Mario and walk around in public spaces frequented by tourists for their reputation for offering free and quirky street-level entertainment. Welcome to New York.
  • Immediately after Tuesday’s mass stabbing on the campus of Lone Star College in Houston, Texas, one student who had just witnessed the violence told a live TV interviewer on the scene that concealed carry on campus makes sense: “God protected us in the classroom. We wish we could protect ourselves with guns… We would love to have God and the law on our side.” Texas has comparatively open laws on gun ownership, but doesn’t allow concealed carry on college campuses.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Majority Of Police Think Gun Control Won’t Solve Anything

Another law enforcement organization has weighed in on gun control, with a survey of police officers that strongly indicates the importance of keeping Congress’ hands off citizens’ 2nd Amendment powers.

The nationwide survey, done by policeone.com last month, reveals that 86 percent of law enforcement officers believe gun-control legislation doesn’t help — and, in fact, harms — their chances of staying safe during potentially violent encounters while on the job.

The survey, which canvassed 15,000 law enforcement professionals, found that most of them disagree that gun-control legislation will do anything to help them fight crime and may, in fact, make their jobs harder. The numbers are overwhelming:

  • 92 percent said banning so-called “assault” weapons and semiautomatic firearms either wouldn’t help reduce violent crime, or would actually make it more difficult.
  • 91 percent said they favor citizens’ right to conceal-carry firearms, so long as they are not former felons or have a diagnosable psychological condition that would make them a danger.
  • 86 percent said legislation Congress is considering wouldn’t help them stay safe in the field.
  • 82 percent said gun buy-back programs or amnesty programs won’t help reduce violent crime.
  • 80 percent said citizens who’d been armed in prior mass shooting incidents would have been able to reduce the number of innocent people who were wounded or died.

Congress is set to take up Democrat-sponsored gun control legislation this week, to the objection of a growing cadre of libertarian-leaning Republican Senators who are threatening to filibuster any bill that makes it to the Senate floor.

Several States, meanwhile, have already gotten the jump on Congress, rushing a litany of strict gun-grabbing laws through their spring legislative sessions in knee-jerk response to a mass murder last December in Newtown, Conn. Colorado, Connecticut, New York and Maryland have all moved to outdo each other in the race to make legal firearms harder to obtain.

Police Research Finds Victims Who Stand Their Ground Are Effective Against Active Shooters

The leader of a national police support organization believes there’s been a “sea change” in the approach many law enforcement agencies are taking when it comes to telling people how best to respond when they’re confronted by an armed threat.

In a weekend piece in The New York Times, Chuck Wexler, who heads the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), said high-profile mass murders have encouraged many local law enforcement officials to tell the public that taking matters into your own hands to neutralize a threat is often more effective than dialing 911 and waiting for help to arrive.

“There’s a recognition in these ‘active shooter’ situations that there may be a need for citizens to act in a way that perhaps they haven’t been trained for or equipped to deal with,” he told The Times. That need is a manifestation of the public’s growing rejection of a long-prevailing maxim that victims ‘don’t get involved; call 911,’” as Wexler said.

His remarks were supported with research by Texas State University that revealed regular people often have been successful in defusing a bad situation by defending themselves, either by stopping an attack with force and waiting for police to take over or by shooting the perpetrator outright.

According to Texas State’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT), the idea that average people must take responsibility for one’s safety — whether armed or unarmed — is finally gaining currency among many Americans who, in the past, looked only to the cops for Johnny-on-the-spot assistance.

According to the study, 49 percent of “active shooter” attacks targeting multiple victims between 2000 and 2010 were over with before police arrived at the scene. And, in those instances, victims who stood their ground against their attackers had a similar success rate at stopping the attack as police did in cases when they were able to engage the suspect.

In the 41 (out of 84 total) events that ended before police arrived, the attacker killed himself in 21 cases and fled in four more. When victims decided to take action against the shooters, “the potential victims at the attack site stopped the attacker themselves in 16 cases,” the study notes, 13 times by physically overcoming the attacker and three times by shooting him.

That compares relatively well with the way these types of shootings ended when police took on the suspects:

When the attack ended after the police arrived, the attacker was about equally likely to stop the attack himself (by surrendering or committing suicide) as he was to be stopped by police use of force. The attacker committed suicide in 13 instances and surrendered in 6. The police shot the attacker to resolve the event in 17 cases and subdued the attacker using other methods in 7.

Other instances studied, such as the 2007 Virginia Tech University shooting, demonstrate that, at the very least, would-be victims who aren’t armed can still dramatically improve their chances of living through an attack by taking evasive action or putting up defensive resistance.

‘What Are We Afraid Of?’ McCain Doesn’t Get Why Rand Paul And Friends Want A Gun Filibuster

Senator John McCain got on a CBS News show over the weekend and freely admitted he didn’t understand why young Republican Senators preoccupied with Constitutional freedoms are threatening to stall a Democrat-led effort at passing a Federal gun control bill by filibustering.

McCain’s comments came in response to previous warnings by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a dozen other conservative Senators that they’ll do anything within the rules of procedure to prevent a gun control bill sponsored by Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from coming to the floor:

I don’t understand it. The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand … What are we afraid of? Why would we not want – if this issue is as important as all of us think it is – why not take it to the world’s greatest deliberative body? That’s the greatest exaggeration in history, by the way, but, you know? Why not take it up in amendment and debate? The American people will profit from it. I do not understand why United States Senators want to block debate when the leader has said we can have amendments.

McCain went on to say he would welcome debate over mandating universal background checks, without saying he would support the measure outright. Reid’s bill seeks to expand background checks and crack down on “pass-through” third-party firearms purchases, along with a number of other gun control provisions; but he’s offered to open up the measures for bipartisan amendment when (and if) the bill comes to the floor.

Paul and others threatening the filibuster argue that the bill’s entire premise represents an affront to Americans’ guaranteed 2nd Amendment powers and, therefore, has no business even coming before the Senate for discussion.

Although McCain isn’t sympathetic with his peers’ use of the filibuster, it’s not as though he doesn’t have a record employing that very same tactic in past Senate debates. He invoked the threat of a filibuster in leading a (temporarily) successful 2010 effort to block a repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on open homosexuality. And over his long career, he’s sided in favor of using the filibuster 287 times out of the 712 occasions he’s had the opportunity.

Riflemaker Colt Competition Moves Operations To Texas

Colt Competition, which makes AR-15-type rifles for Connecticut-based Colt’s Manufacturing Co., will move its operations from Oregon to Texas, parent company Bold Ideas revealed Monday.

The change comes after a strong courtship effort by Texas Governor Rick Perry to roll out a friendly welcome mat to gun manufacturers frustrated by recent and drastic gun control legislation in their home States. Connecticut’s Legislature passed a comprehensive gun bill last week that made most kinds of AR-15 rifles illegal to own in the State.

Colt Competition will now put down roots in Breckenridge, Texas — potentially trading more than 600 Oregon jobs for jobs in the Lone Star State.

IRS Looking At Facebook And Twitter To See If You’re A Cheat

A Fox News television affiliate in Washington, D.C., is reporting that the Internal Revenue Service has alarmed many social media users by stalking their Facebook postings and Tweets in an attempt to make sure you’re saying all the right things about how you went about filing your tax return this year.

According to Fox 5, the IRS will look to your online presence for potential evidence, if it suspects you evaded or improperly filed your Federal taxes. The government’s official line is that it won’t review a taxpayer’s social media accounts unless his tax form already has been flagged.

“Be careful what you say on social networking platforms,” warns attorney Kristen Matthews. “There are laws that regulate the government’s ability to get a hold of things like credit card transaction history. But those laws have become more permissive in the last several years… and some might say those laws are no longer in line with the average expectation of privacy.”

FCC May Loosen Broadcast Rules For Nudity And Language

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), tasked by Congress with the job of policing Federal laws governing obscenity, indecency and profanity on broadcast television and radio, is considering enforcement changes that would allow brief nudity and some isolated use of verbal expletives during prime-time hours, relaxing restrictions that have long been penalized by severe fines.

The proliferation of media outlets, coupled with an attendant increase in the variety of themes that enter the cultural mainstream as broadcasters vie for Americans’ eye and ears, has led to a massive backlog in complaints, which the FCC hasn’t been able to address as quickly as they’ve been pouring in.

Retiring FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has posited a shift in the commission’s focus: one that would let slide commonplace or “fleeting” curse words, as well as brief nudity that’s not part of a sexual situation. Late last year, he ordered the commission’s enforcement arm to tackle the backlog by focusing only on “egregious” instances of indecency or profanity.

Since that time, the commission has whittled its caseload down by 70 percent, or more than 1 million pending complaints.

For now, the idea hasn’t been implemented. But the effectiveness of relaxing the rules a bit on the enforcement side has prompted the FCC to “seek comment on whether the full Commission should make changes to its current broadcast indecency policies or maintain them as they are,” according to its April 1 announcement.

The FCC is soliciting public comments on the topic through the commission’s Electronic Filing System; the comments of your fellow Americans are also available for viewing at the same address. Commenters can also mail their remarks before the closing date at the end of April.

De Facto ‘Debtors’ Prison’ Freezes Economic Mobility, Favors Plutocrats In Eroding U.S. Legal System

Drawing a direct line — or any line at all — that links criminal guilt with incarceration is becoming impossible in a growing number of cities and States, as people are being put indefinitely in jail for their inability to pay medical bills, traffic fines and court costs.

Since 1833, it’s been illegal at the Federal level to imprison someone for unpaid debt. But individual States still retain the legal prerogative to do just that, and one-third of them still do.

Increasingly, private debt collection has come to put pressure on law enforcement to aggressively pursue available legal opportunities to arrest those who don’t pay their bills — such as when a civil judgment has been issued against an already-delinquent borrower and that person subsequently is found to be in contempt of the judgment because he still can’t pay.

Contempt, failing to respond at court hearings and failing to pay court costs (which mount over time) are all used as legal justifications for jailing someone who originally came before the law in a civil capacity because he couldn’t pay a debt.

An Illinois woman was billed $280, in error, for medical services. She inquired about the error and was told she wouldn’t, of course, have to pay it. But the bill went into collections, and State police eventually showed up at her house. They arrested her.

In Missouri, when creditors win civil judgments against borrowers who can’t pay, they wait for the borrower’s “examination” summons, a post-judgment court date to review a borrower’s financial assets. If the borrower doesn’t appear, the creditor asks the court for a “body attachment,” which is essentially an arrest warrant. Once arrested, the borrower is indefinitely held in jail pending a bond payment that’s set at — guess how much — the amount he owes the creditor (plus court costs).

Without question, lenders who have been defrauded by borrowers have every reason to demand full recourse for recovering what’s owed them under the law. But the spirit of civil law governing economic transactions in the United States holds that both parties are equally exposed to the risks attending any exchange of money for product.

Lenders who collude with local law enforcement and courts to jail debtors are exposing their former customers to more than just the civil consequences of dealing in bad faith; they’re taking away individual liberties. Now switch that antagonism around: If the lenders were the ones defrauding the borrowers, how often would the borrowers’ legal recourse extend all the way to the criminal courts?

Putting someone in jail — not to serve out a sentence handed down for a criminal conviction, but for lacking money owed to another entity (either to creditors or, increasingly, to the state) — is to recreate the debtors’ prison in America, a Nation whose brief, tumultuous experiment with the concept was rejected as vestigial of the old-world European classism the Founders had striven to abolish.

America’s Founders adamantly despised the idea of debtors’ prisons (many served time in them) not only for its cruelty, but also for its ossification of the poor classes. To be put in jail for lack of funds is to be frozen in society with no hope of rising, on one’s own merits and ambitions, to the middle or upper class.

More egregious is the practice of governments throwing people in jail for being unable to pay the government. An Ohio man ended up sitting in jail for 10 days last year because he couldn’t pay the balance on an outstanding $900 in costs owed to the municipal court of the Town of Norwalk. In other words, the court converted the fine he couldn’t pay into jail time, despite a 1971 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that very practice unConstitutional.

There’s some hope that higher courts will end that kind of state profiteering. An Alabama judge put the hammer down on the town of Harpersville last year, calling a traffic-ticketing scheme involving police, city officials and a private probation company a “judicially sanctioned extortion racket.”

That case involved four people who sued the city for violating their Constitutional rights. If people ticketed for speeding there were not immediately able to fines imposed by the municipal court, they were referred to the private company, which instantly began tacking on additional fees that multiplied the cost of the original offense — all under the sanction of criminal law. Many were jailed on bogus failure to appear charges, and every interaction with the town’s legal system cost them more money.

Shelby County Circuit Judge Hub Harrington heard the case, and he said this in his order:

When viewed in a light most favorable to Defendants, their testimony concerning the City’s court system could reasonably be characterized as the operation of a debtors prison. The court notes that these generally fell into disfavor by the early 1800’s, though the practice appears to have remained common place in Harpersville. From a fair reading of the defendants’ testimony one might ascertain that a more apt description of the Harpersville Municipal Court practices is that of a judicially sanctioned extortion racket. Most distressing is that these abuses have been perpetrated by what is supposed to be a court of law. Disgraceful.

The judge went on to order the mayor and every city council member to attend a scheduled hearing — and every possible subsequent hearing that might arise in disposing the case:

These individuals, who are the officials ultimately responsible for the operation of the City, may wish to consult with Mr. [Larry] Ward [the town’s municipal judge alleged to have been involved in the scheme] regarding the consequences of one’s failure to appear, especially when actually ordered by a court to do so.

Amen. At every level of the court system in the United States, we need more judges like that.

BEARD PAC Funds Candidates Who Sport Facial Hair

In a move that inevitably will be decried, somewhere, for its intrinsic sexism, a new political action committee (PAC) has organized around the idea that candidates with beards (beards, not mustaches or wimpy soul patches) are sorely missing from American elected offices.

So the Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy (BEARD) PAC is throwing its financial weight behind candidates at all levels of government who sport the facial hair. There’s no other politics tied to the PAC’s agenda. Whether liberal or conservative, Democrat, Republican or independent, a candidate seeking elected office could get the PAC’s campaign support simply for having a beard.

It’s a joke, yet it’s serious at the same time. BEARD PAC’s website argues there’s something to be said for the dedication and commitment it takes to grow and keep a beard:

Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy (BEARD PAC) feels that individuals with the dedication to grow and maintain a quality beard are the kinds of individuals that would show dedication to the job of public service, as such it is our mission to help elect bearded candidates from across the political spectrum and across all levels of government.

Our support will go to candidates with both a full beard, and a savvy mind full of growth-oriented policy positions that will move our great nation towards a more lush and magnificent future.

What about women? BEARD PAC sends its regrets, saying it’s a shame that women make up less than 20 percent of the present Congress — but they’re not eligible to receive the group’s backing.

Unless they, too, have beards.

Alabama Bill Could Give Gun Owners Free Lifetime Car-Carry Permits

If a bill approved by the Alabama Senate last week passes this year, gun owners would be able to obtain a lifetime permit to carry pistols in their vehicles, something that now requires a concealed-carry permit.

Under the bill, there would essentially be a new category of permit created, one that applies to vehicles only. Gun owners who plan to keep pistols only inside their cars for personal protection wouldn’t need a concealed-carry permit; rather, the lifetime permit — which wouldn’t cost anything — would suffice.

And gun owners who already do possess a concealed-carry permit would automatically be allowed to carry weapons in their cars — just as they presently do.

In addition, the bill would prevent employers from telling employees they can’t keep guns in their private cars while at work. It also would expand the “Castle Doctrine,” which allows for the use of deadly force in self-defense at one’s home, to businesses where employees elect to protect themselves against intruders.

The bill’s sponsor said the new law is really an effort to clarify that Alabama is an open-carry State, and it is intended to strengthen the spirit of that message. The original draft of the bill wouldn’t have required a permit of any kind for guns to be carried in vehicles.

Federal Judge Says Morning-After Pill Can Be Had Over The Counter

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must end restrictions on how old a woman can be to obtain the pregnancy-halting “Plan B” morning after pill, according to a Federal judge’s ruling Friday that excoriated the Administration of President Barack Obama for politicizing the issue.

Before the ruling, the morning-after pill was available only to women who show proof to pharmacists that they’re 17 or older. Pharmacists could also, for reasons of conscience, refuse to sell the pills to anyone at all.

The new ruling makes the pills as easy to get as vitamins or headache medicine, and effectively removes the moral onus from pharmacists by moving the pill out onto store shelves, where a prescription or proof of age isn’t required to make a purchase.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman criticized the Obama Administration, saying a 2011 decision by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the department of Health and Human Services, to limit sales of the pill to those over age 16 was “obviously political.”

“Even with eyes shut to the motivation for the Secretary’s decision, the reasons she provided are so unpersuasive as to call into question her good faith,” the judge wrote of Sebelius.

Unless the appeals process leads to delays, the order will take effect nationwide in 30 days; and morning-after pills could appear on drugstore shelves.

Maryland Goes After Guns, Facebook Goes After Your Privacy, You’re Still Not On Disability!?, Mickey D’s Workers Strike In NYC, Even Hispanics Think U.S. Should Enforce Immigration Law: Friday Morning News Roundup 4-5-2013

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

  • Yesterday, Connecticut; today, Maryland. The Old Line State has joined the competition to see who can pass the Nation’s most draconian gun-control laws, with the General Assembly approving a by-now predictable bevy of restrictions aping similar laws passed recently in New York and Connecticut. Novel for the Maryland law is this bit of tyranny: Buy a gun, give up your fingerprints.

 

  • The new Facebook Home app for mobile phones has privacy advocates concerned. Installing the app, which essentially takes over your Android phone’s main screen, could enable the app to surrender just about every move you make on your phone — as well as your GPS-based whereabouts in real time — to Facebook servers. It “destroys any notion of privacy,” warns one tech blogger.

 

  • The number of Americans now receiving Federal disability benefits hit a record 8.85 million people in March. That’s more people than live in the entire State of Virginia (and 37 others).

 

  • Employees of fast food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell, are on strike in New York City, protesting $7.25 hourly wages and leveraging to form a union. For some reason, the walkout was timed to coincide with the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed amid his ongoing support of a strike organized by Memphis, Tenn., sanitation workers.

 

  • A new poll conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies reveals that a majority of Hispanics, 53 percent, think the U.S. government has done “too little” to enforce its own laws on immigration.

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Congress To Hash Out Cybersecurity In The Dark

Privacy advocates are standing up to oppose a bill before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that would grant more powers to corporations for sharing customer data among themselves and, if the bill survives the committee process whole, the government.

Not only is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) a potential legal tool for companies and law enforcement agencies to pass citizens’ private information back and forth; it’s also a piece of legislation the Intelligence Committee doesn’t want to discuss in front of the public as it considers additions.

According to a report at The Hill, the committee is closing the doors on media and the general public when it begins marking up the bill next week, and it won’t allow the proceedings to be streamed on the Internet.

A committee spokesperson deflected criticism, saying the move will expedite the process, that there’s a lot of confidential information that could get out and that the committee did the same thing last year anyway, in similar discussions.

But critics say these are exactly the kind of talks that should be open to the public, because they involve lawmakers trading thoughts over how to craft a bill that one opponent describes as a “backdoor wiretap” on warrantless private data searches.

More than 40 organizations implored the Intelligence Committee to hold open-door talks when CISPA comes up next week, publicizing a letter sent out to committee members Wednesday. The letter asserted that the public “has a right to know how Congress is conducting the people’s business, particularly when such important wide-ranging policies are at stake”:

All Congressional committee hearings and votes should be conducted in accordance with our country’s highest principles of transparency and openness and made accessible to the public…The general rule should be open government.

As you know, it is the practice of most other committees not only to open their markups, but also to webcast them and share the text of the legislation in advance of voting. Closure of the entire markup is unwarranted.

Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Intelligence Committee chairman, is sponsoring the bill. A copy of the draft — minus, of course, any amendments to come out of the closed-door revisions next week — can be found here.

Connecticut Passes Gun Grab While Other States Dig In To Protect 2nd Amendment

The Connecticut Legislature passed its sweeping package of gun control early Thursday, vastly tightening restrictions on firearms ownership in a State already regarded by gun control advocates, long before the December 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy, as having the Nation’s fifth-toughest gun laws.

The State’s House of Representatives closed the deal shortly after 2 a.m. Eastern time, approving  a broad ban on scary “assault” weapons and high-capacity magazines, along with a host of other regulations on ammunition sales and mental health checks.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy promptly signed the bipartisan bill into law, following a day of demonstrations in which 2nd Amendment supporters greatly outnumbered gun control advocates outside the State Capitol.

The new laws, which also require “eligibility certificates” for prospective gun buyers and mandate universal background checks — even for private sales — begin taking effect immediately. Other provisions, such as the creation of the Nation’s first “dangerous weapon offender” registry, will be implemented over time.

As the Legislature spent the day preparing to vote on the measure, anxious customers made a run on guns and ammunition at specialty stores throughout the State. Shops already experiencing chronic shortages sold out of weapons and ammo. One store owner called it “panic buying,” motivated by genuine fear that government was further tightening the noose around regular citizens’ 2nd Amendment powers.

The rush to interject government into private gun ownership in States where leaders invoke mass shootings and public safety fears has been offset in other States by Legislative action designed to ensure residents their right to bear arms won’t be infringed.

The contrasting approach of lawmakers in the gun-grab States and the gun rights States is stark, with 10 States recently enacting laws that actually broaden residents’ gun ownership rights. Thirty-six States have passed some form of “nullification” legislation intended to repel the enforcement of any Federal-level gun restrictions that may pass Congress.

That’s essentially a Constitutional challenge by the States, daring the Federal government to expose its own double-standard take on the Bill of Rights by inviting it to invoke the 10th Amendment’s Supremacy Clause in order to enforce gun control that violates the clear and simple language of the 2nd Amendment.

First Magpul, Now HiViz: Gun Companies Continue To Flee Colorado

Another firearms company is getting out of Colorado, saying the State’s recent legislation banning high-capacity magazines and requiring residents to obtain and pay for their own background checks is unConstitutional and demonstrates lawmakers’ willingness to infringe citizens’ right to bear arms.

HiViz Shooting Systems of Fort Collins, which makes sights, recoil pads and accessories, announced April 1 that it will relocate out of State, although management hasn’t made a final decision on where the company will end up.

CEO Phillip Howe said in a release that he’d like to be able to stay in Colorado, but promoting business in a State that has begun telling residents where to draw the line on firearms afflicts his conscience and sends the wrong message to lawmakers and residents alike.

“Colorado is a beautiful State with great people, but we cannot in clear conscience support with our taxes a state that has proven through recent legislation a willingness to infringe upon the constitutional rights of our customer base,” Howe explained.

HiViz follows Erie-based accessory manufacturer Magpul as the second high-profile company to quit Colorado since Governor John Hickenlooper signed the gun control bills into law last month.

Following Founders’ Wisdom An Unsafe Choice In Modern America

It’s a sad irony that American government has, over roughly the latter half of our Nation’s lifespan, so thoroughly reversed its Constitutionally defined role. It’s remarkable and hard to believe that government has cast to the margins those Americans possessed of the expectation that the Bill of Rights means today what it has always meant — and that it always should.

There are countless ways in which our leaders have incrementally and systematically betrayed the thinking of our Nation’s Founders. There are just as many ways our own government now seeks to betray those remaining citizens whose serious adherence to the Constitution targets them, in the eyes of Big Government, as extremists, relics and kooks:

Do you feel that the United States and other global military powers grow more and more borderless in their sphere of activity? Do you believe the justification for American military first action, occupation or police-state intervention gets more and more flimsy, more reliant on the discretion of the Commander  in Chief, less considering of the Constitutionally devised tripartite system of checks and balances than ever before?

Do you believe that the conceptual line of demarcation separating wartime from peacetime in America has been purposefully obliterated by our Presidents and war-profiteering policy makers?

Do you really regard civil law enforcement officers in your city, county, State and Nation as citizen peers whose sworn (and compensated) duty is to answer to you and respond when another has criminally infringed on your safety or your property? Would you deign to speak to your servants and protectors as an equal, to let them know, face to face, your expectations and concerns about the public space you share and the private space you each hold dear?

Do you wish that the Federal Reserve would stop printing money to forestall crashing America’s debt-based, fiat economy, while simultaneously weakening our Nation’s ability to negotiate sensible trade agreements because of a devalued currency?

Do you have an inherent suspicion of building up a revealing online presence through the use of Facebook or Twitter? Maybe it’s not even a suspicion; maybe you’re just a very private person. Or maybe you simply believe in the experience of real things, that your outsized personality is too robust a thing to represent via facsimile on a rectangular computer screen.

Do you take responsibility for the manner in which you view, hear and read the information that purports to tell you what’s going on in the world around you? Do you feel that mainstream media lacks incentive to deliver that information to you? Do you prefer to get your news from a bevy of Internet sites that traverse the spectrum of political views?

If you’re among those who answer “yes” to some — or all — of these types of questions, know that it’s getting harder and harder to convince your elected leaders in today’s Washington that you don’t fit some government agency’s description of a domestic terrorist.

It’s small consolation that, were they alive today, the Founders would be right there with you.