Comedians, free speech group announce new film that pushes back against campus PC culture

Comedy is transgressive by nature, so it’s not surprising that a ton of America’s most successful and innovative comedians — people like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld — are loathe to schedule stops on college campuses.

Colleges have become such morally stultified venues for speaking freely that a growing number of comedians literally can’t trouble themselves to be paid to perform at campuses. Seinfeld recently told ESPN’s Colin Cowherd that, although he doesn’t schedule colleges on his standup tours, other comedians who do stop at colleges tell him they’re tough places to unleash their acts.

Cowherd observed that comedians like Rock and Larry the Cable Guy won’t play colleges in order to avoid being needlessly excoriated for the things they say in jest. Are they right to be so concerned?

“I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges — they’re so PC,'” Seinfeld responded:

I’ll give you an example: My daughter’s 14. My wife says to her, “Well, you know, in the next couple years, I think maybe you’re going to want to be hanging around the city more on the weekends, so you can see boys.” You know what my daughter says? She says, “That’s sexist.”

… They [some college-age people] just want to use these words: “That’s racist;” “That’s sexist;” “That’s prejudiced.” They don’t even know what they’re talking about.

Enter FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. On Monday, FIRE, along with comedians like Penn Jillette and Adam Carolla, announced a partnership to produce a forthcoming anti-PC film titled “Can We Take a Joke?”

The film is still in its earliest stages, but FIRE president Greg Lukianoff explained it purpose in an article at Ricochet:

The timing is perfect. The year kicked off with comedian Chris Rock saying that he did not like playing campuses anymore, and that comedy legend George Carlin didn’t like to either. Now, with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher condemning the oversensitivity and humorlessness of college students, the world seems ready to make a stand for comedy. The through-line of the film follows the life and career of famous iconoclastic comedian Lenny Bruce, making the argument that Lenny Bruce would not stand a minute on the modern college campus. The film also features a few important FIRE cases in which censorship tried to crush satire, parody, and comedy on campus — sometimes successfully.

FIRE is for real — it’s helped dozens of students and university employees navigate the often-absurd world of political correctness, especially as it impinges on constitutional freedoms. And the participation of real comedians lends some hope to the wishful notion that the backlash against PC overkill may coalesce into a force strong enough to effect real changes — at least on some campuses.

“This is only the first announcement, with many more to follow,” wrote Lukianoff, “but if you want to know more about the documentary, please ‘Like’ the new Can We Take a Joke? Facebook page, follow the Can We Take a Joke? Twitter account, sign up for email updates at the Can We Take a Joke? Website, and start getting psyched for what is turning out to be a riotously funny romp about the importance of both free speech and comedy at a time when they are sorely needed.”

Paul fighting for congressional transparency

Sen. Rand Paul has reintroduced legislation aimed at increasing congressional transparency by forcing lawmakers to read legislation before voting and limiting the subjects of legislative proposals to one topic.

According to the language in Paul’s “One Subject at a Time Act,” passage would mean spending bills could only contain measures relevant to the departments and agencies they discuss. All bills would be required to “embrace no more than one subject.”

“I firmly believe the American people have a right to be part of the legislative process,” Paul said in a statement. “My bills will allow citizens sufficient time to read and give input to members of Congress as they consider legislation impacting the lives of all Americans.”

Paul’s other proposal, the “Read the Bills Act,” would require every bill to be read aloud for lawmakers and posted online for a minimum of seven days before a vote. In addition, it would require lawmakers to sign an affidavit stating that they “listened attentively” to or “read attentively” the whole bill.

This, Paul’s legislation states, will prevent the problem of Congress passing “excessively long bills, largely written by an unelected bureaucracy, resulting in generally incomprehensible, cumbersome, oppressive, and burdensome laws, containing hidden provisions or special interests.”

Government attempts to declare itself exempt from liability in OPM data theft

If a federal employee had any thought of suing the federal government for failing to protect his personal information, that employee may want to think again.

The federal government issued a round of letters to employees this week, declaring itself immune from lawsuits over its complicity in the massive theft.

According to The Hill, the Feds’ disclaimer comes as a sine-qua-non-style inclusion in the government’s offer to atone for the thefts by offering employees “18 months of free identity theft monitoring services.”

But in accepting the 18 months of free services, employees may be holding the government harmless for claims stemming from the scandal. While the letter doesn’t explicitly state that, the government’s self-protection measures do raise the possibility that employees will find it harder, down the road, to take an adversarial position if they accept the terms of the free service now.

From The Hill:

When initially revealing the hack earlier this month, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said it would offer 18 months of free identity theft monitoring services.

But in its letter to federal workers whose data is considered at risk, the OPM included some clarifying sentences.

“These services are offered as a convenience to you,” said the letter, signed by OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour. “However, nothing in this letter should be construed as OPM or the U.S. Government accepting liability for any of the matters covered by this letter or for any other purpose.”

… On its face, the statements appear to be protection from employee lawsuits, experts said.

The Federal Tort Claims Act provides, in theory, for people to sue federal workers whose negligence demonstrably harms them in some way, the report notes. But it’s difficult to establish cause-and-effect in many cases, and — right or wrong — the burden of proof tends to fall more squarely on the plaintiff in cases against the government.

Then there’s the Privacy Act of 1974, which “requires the federal government to protect information it collects, providing some path for litigation if an agency fails to do so,” according to The Hill. “The law doesn’t specifically address cyberattacks, though.”

Activists fear race riots following shootings

TNS/John Tecklenburg hugs J. Denise Cromwell outside the Morris Brown AME Church after police cleared the church for safety reasons during a prayer vigil for the deadly attack on historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Black activists in Charleston, South Carolina, fear that Wednesday night’s mass murder at a historically black church will spark race riots in the city.

Via the Washington Times:

“We don’t need any more bloodshed and we don’t need a race war,” pleaded J. Denise Cromwell, a black community activists (sic). “Charleston has a lot of racial tension. … We’re drowning and someone is pouring water over us.”

Ms. Cromwell said that nerves were still raw from the fatal shooting two months ago of a black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston, which ignited major protests.

Black activist Michelle Felder, 58, said she feared the city’s young people “aren’t thinking” and might seek revenge, an emotional reaction that she said she understood but was mature enough to resist.

“This is 2015 and we are still going through the same things we went through 50 years ago,” she said. “This is so sickening. We are so tired.”

Religious and political leaders have repeatedly called for calm since the shooting Wednesday night.

Pastor Thomas A. Dixon, a civil rights activist and community organizer, urged the city’s black residents to “keep your emotions under control.”

With racial tensions on the rise in the U.S. in recent years, the actions of Dylann Storm Roof, the 21-year-old mentally ill drug user who carried out the attack, could have national implications.

A report from The New York Times Thursday suggested that the Obama administration could double down on race rhetoric following the recent tragedy.

“The racially charged killing of Trayvon Martin, the fatal encounters with police in places like Ferguson, Mo., Staten Island and North Charleston, S.C., and the upheaval in Baltimore have all served to put the nation’s unfinished business back on the agenda,” the piece said.

Later, it continues, “[I]t seems likely that issues of race and violence will shape the conversation for the rest of Mr. Obama’s tenure as well as during the campaign to succeed him. Many of those aspiring to Mr. Obama’s job have been wrestling with how to address the nation’s persistent divide, and they weighed in about the latest violence with statements of grief and outrage.”

Video: What leads people to Islamic Extremism?

Scholar, diplomat and researcher Haroon K. Ullah draws on his research and experience living in Pakistan to attempt an explanation of what drives individuals to Islamic extremism. Ullah doesn’t believe it’s as simple as a lack of jobs, as some State Department officials have suggested.

Poverty and ignorance are often cited as the biggest reason people join forces with Islamic extremist groups. But a growing number of middle class, college educated people throughout the world joining the ranks of extremist groups like ISIS suggest that there is much more at play.

Ullah explains what he believes are the main drivers of Islamic extremism in a recent video for Prager University:

One is a desire for meaning and for order. Places like Pakistan are submerged in chaos and corruption. Islamists promise clear cut solutions to every problem: here’s how things will change if you follow these rules. And only these rules.

Another is a desire for change. The old corrupt order, the narrative goes, must be overthrown and that can only happen through violent action. Again, it is Islamists that step in — with a promise to create a new form of government.

Then throw in a strong sense of victimhood — we are not responsible for the sorry state of our country; others have brought us down — and you have a toxic brew that many willingly imbibe. These, of course, are the same easy answers that tyrants and demagogues — from Lenin to Mussolini to Hitler to bin Laden — have always offered their followers.

Watch the full video below:

Almost $3 billion in Obamacare subsidies unaccounted for in CMS audit

A new report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services reveals that $2.8 billion in Obamacare subsidies may have been awarded to the wrong people — and for the wrong amount of money.

According to the audit summary, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) lacked internal controls to “effectively ensure the accuracy of nearly $2.8 billion in aggregate financial assistance payments made to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act during the first four months that these payments were made.”

The audit, which covers the first four months of 2014, noted that CMS too often relied on insurance companies to verify the accuracy of patient data, while failing to develop “effective internal controls for ensuring that financial assistance payments are calculated and applied correctly.”

CMS generally agreed with the report’s findings, but argued that the OIG’s recommendations to correct the problems aren’t necessary “because of regulatory action.”

But the OIG insists that isn’t the case. “After reviewing CMS’s comments, we maintain that our findings and recommendations are valid,” the auditors conclude.

View the full report here.

Hank Johnson wants a federal ban on guns in airports

In response to an open-carry story that made the Internet rounds earlier this month, Rep. Hank “Don’t let Guam tip over” Johnson (D-Ga.) has introduced a bill that would outlaw the presence of loaded firearms anywhere in airports — everywhere.

Titled the “Airport Security Act of 2015,” Johnson’s bill would institute a federal ban on the carry of loaded firearms, not only within the secured airport areas where they’re already banned, but in non-secure areas that don’t require a screening process for entry. Unloaded weapons, under Johnson’s bill, could be brought into the unsecured areas if they’re unloaded and locked up in cases, but that’s it.

“Two weeks ago, a man entered the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta, Georgia, carrying a loaded AR-15 automatic weapon with an extended-capacity 100-round magazine,” Johnson said Monday from the House floor. “He did so only to make a point, and that was to show that he was legally able to carry his firearm in the airport.

“Mr. Speaker, actions like this, which follow shootings at airports in Los Angeles and Houston, undermine public security in the same way as yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.

“Today I will introduce legislation to prohibit the carrying of loaded weapons in our nation’s airports. The Airport Security Act is a common-sense bill and I urge my colleagues to join me in keeping the traveling public safe.”

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the bill has the support of 15 Democratic co-sponsors.

This isn’t the first time Johnson’s tried this; he floated a nearly identical bill back in 2010 — around the same time he was fretting, during a House Armed Service Committee hearing, that Guam could “tip over and capsize” if the U.S. kept moving military personnel onto the island.

Lawmaker: Get rid of ‘Jurassic Pork’

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has released a new report, “Jurassic Pork,” to bring attention to the fact that Congress continues to waste “hundreds of millions of dollars” in earmarked funding and related spending, despite having formally banned the practice.

“Earmarks are extinct for a reason, and I doubt taxpayers are interested in a sequel,” said Flake. “Jurassic Pork should serve as a reminder of the past scandals that brought about the extinction of earmarks, and as a warning that the cost of earmarking often long outlives the practice itself.”

According to Flake, the success of the earmark ban hasn’t stopped the government from spending billions of dollars on previously approved projects.

Flake notes that the Congressional Research Service has identified 70 earmarks worth a total of $120 million still on the books from laws dating from 1989 to 2004. The lawmaker has introduced legislation to “eliminate long-term, unobligated transportation earmarks — also called orphan earmarks — that have had less than 10 percent of their funding spent after 10 years, yet remain on the books.”

“[I]n August 2015, more than 1,200 earmarks from the last major highway bill will officially hit orphan status, representing more than $2 billion in yet-to-be-spent funds,” Flakes office said in a press release.

The new legislation, the Jurassic Pork Act, would reallocate that money to the nearly broke Highway Trust Fund to keep it from being wasted by lawmakers.

“Specifically, the bill would rescind funding for earmarks that are more than 10 years old and have less than 10 percent of their funds obligated,” the lawmaker’s office explained. “If the head of an agency determines that the funds are on the verge of being spent on a specific project in the next 12 months, the agency would be allowed to keep the money.”

Bad government, not bad parenting


Commenting on Florida couple charged with felony neglect after getting stuck in traffic while kid waited at home,
elevenoclock says:
June 12, 2015

The new government’s lack of sensible economic policy’s force both parents to work to pay the high gasoline prices, property tax, income tax, health tax, Home office furniture tax and all the other taxes and penalties and then they arrest you when you can’t get home to your 11 year old almost teenager. It’s a Catch 22 scenario.

I suppose if your 22 year old child who was living with his parents would also be considered unattended as well.

How is it that all those unattended children who were involved in the riots were not taken away from their parents?

Reply

That time when ABC predicted NYC would be FUBAR by 2015

Back in 2008, ABC News promoted a dystopian documentary special that warned Americans we were all standing at the precipice of a very changed world – a world that would be pretty hellish by 2015.

Folks can argue about how hellish the world indeed is, but it’s not the kind of hellish that ABC’s documentary/parable, Earth 2100, envisioned.

The feature riffed on the idea of what civilization will look like in 2100, but it attempted to predict some dire stops along the way. For 2015, we were supposed to imagine crippling prices for fuel and milk, as well as a global warming-ravaged landscape where “flames cover hundreds of miles.”

Had the show’s gloomy future come to pass, today’s gasoline would cost more than $9 per gallon, while a gallon of milk would cost around $13. The program’s graphics suggest a rise in sea level would, by now, have submerged substantial chunks of Manhattan Island and New York City’s four other boroughs.

NewsBusters has published a transcript of a 2008 Good Morning America segment which featured the Earth 2100 special. The transcript highlights a bit of sensational fretting from Bob Woodruff and Chris Cuomo – interspersed with clips from the feature itself.

The GMA transcript (H/T: NewsBusters):

GMA

6/12/08

8:34am

CHRIS CUOMO: Now, we will have a dramatic preview for you of an unprecedented ABC News event called “Earth 2100.” We’re asking you to help create a story that is yet to unfold: What our world will look like in 100 years if we don’t save our troubled planet. Your reports will actually help form the backbone of a two-hour special airing this fall. ABC’s Bob Woodruff will be the host. He joins us now. Pleasure, Bob.

BOB WOODRUFF: You too, Chris. You know, this show is a countdown through the next century and shows what scientists say might very well happen if we do not change our current path. As part of the show, today, we are launching an interactive web game which puts participants in the future and asks them to report back about what it is like to live in this future world. The first stop is the year 2015.

[NOTE: ABC provides no graphics or identification for any of the following individuals/activists featured. Identifications taken discerned from web article.]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1: The public is sleepwalking into the future. You know, sort of going through the motions of daily life and really not paying attention.

JAMES HANSEN (NASA/AL GORE SCIENCE ADVISOR): We can see what the prospects are and we can see that we could solve the problem but we’re not doing it.

[Graphic: Welcome to 2015]

PETER GLEICK (SCIENTIST/PACIFIC INSTITUTE): In 2015, we’ve still failed to address the climate problem.

JOHN HOLDREN (PROFESSOR/HARVARD UNIVERSITY): We’re going to see more floods, more droughts, more wildfires.

UNIDENTIFIED “REPORTER:” Flames cover hundreds of square miles.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: We expect more intense hurricanes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE #5: Well, how warm is it going to get? How much will sea level rise? We don’t know really know where the end is.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE #2: Temperatures have hit dangerous levels.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE #3: Agriculture production is dropping because temperatures are rising.

HEIDI CULLEN (WEATHER CHANNEL/CLIMATE CHANGE EXPERT): There’s about one billion people who are malnourished. That number just continually grows.

CUOMO: I think we’re familiar with some of these issues, but, boy, 2015? That’s seven years from now. Could it really be that bad?

WOODRUFF: It’s very soon, you know. But all you have to do is look at the world today right today. You know, you’ve got gas prices going up. You got food prices going up. You’ve got extreme weather. The scientists have studied this for decades. They say if you connect the dots, you can actually see that we’re approaching maybe even a perfect storm. Or you have got shrinking resources, population growth. Climate change. So, the idea now is to look at it, wake up about it and then try to do something to fix it.

Yikes. Who’d want to live in that world? Cuomo described the documentary as an “exciting and important show.”

Maybe, in hindsight, Earth 2100 is an important show – just not for the reasons Cuomo likely meant.

Obama wants HUD to bring low-income residents into wealthy neighborhoods

It’s all about the outcomes.

President Obama is pursuing a new set of regulations, administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), intended to bring more economic diversity to homogenous residential enclaves presently dominated by the rich.

“A final Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule due out this month is aimed at ending decades of deep-rooted segregation around the country,” The Hill magnanimously reported Thursday.

“The regulations would use grant money as an incentive for communities to build affordable housing in more affluent areas while also taking steps to upgrade poorer areas with better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as part of a gentrification of those communities.”

Like so many of Obama’s economic ideas, this one centers not on incentivizing poorer communities to create wealth in situ, but in leveling the playing field by introducing poorer people into wealthy neighborhoods. The administration is relying heavily on the use of “segregation” as a descriptor for the status quo, although it’s an open question whether it’s speaking in strictly racial terms.

Getting the grant money will require municipal leaders to instigate a fresh round of racial soul searching throughout the country, however.

“To qualify for certain funds under the regulations, cities would be required to examine patterns of segregation in neighborhoods and develop plans to address it,” The Hill reported. “Those that don’t could see the funds they use to improve blighted neighborhoods disappear, critics of the rule say.”

Critics such as Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) warned the rule could be abused to extend the reach of the federal government into local zoning matters. HUD, said Gosar, could wield the grant program as a tool for manipulating local zoning boards into adopting government-promoted housing schemes they’d otherwise reject.

Watch: Americans sign petition to nuke Russia

California prankster and liberty activist Mark Dice has again revealed alarming stupidity of some Americans. For his latest video, Dice racked up signatures to a petition to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Russia to “maintain America’s superiority.”

“We just need a couple more signatures to support President [Barack] Obama’s new plan to deal with Russia,” Dice tells one man. “We are going to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike.”

The man gladly signs, saying, “I’ll sign it for you.”

As another woman signs the petition, Dice says, “I appreciate your supporting a nuclear attack on Russia.”

Another man, fired up about a pre-emptive strike against Russia, exclaims, “We’re gonna blow them to smithereens.”

California Assembly seeks to mandate service centers aimed at illegal aliens who attend state colleges

Several campuses in California’s public university system have begun formally unveiling administrative services units aimed at accommodating illegal aliens who matriculate there (or wish to). Now, state lawmakers are on their way to making such accommodations a requirement.

The California Assembly passed a bill (AB 1366) last week that, if passed into law, will require all the state’s public junior colleges, as well as its CSU-system teaching universities to “create on-campus centers dedicated to teaching illegal immigrants how to procure financial aid and take advantage of various academic opportunities,” Campus Reform reports.

The Assembly’s passage of the bill roughly coincided with the University of California, San Diego’s introduction of its new “Undocumented Student Services Center” last week, offering illegal aliens “world-class learning opportunities for students inside and outside of the classroom, regardless of your immigration status or the status of your family,” according to the center’s website.

While UCSD and a few other state schools are already ahead of the curve, the bill would force more than 100 public schools to incorporate similar service centers, according to Campus Reform. The law would not force the state’s 10 flagship research schools (like UCSD) in the University of California system to adopt the service centers, but “the bill does request that each establish [its] own,” the report states.

AB 1366 was drafted by lawmaker Patty Lopez, a San Fernando-area Democrat. “It is important as the undocumented student population continues to grow they are given the support needed,” Lopez wrote on her web page last month. “By establishing Dream Resource Centers, students will be able to focus more on their academic goals and less time on administrative and social barriers.”

The “Dream Resource Center” language echoes the impetus for the current expansion in accommodations for illegals in California — the California DREAM Act, a set of laws passed in 2011 that opened financial aid and scholarships to illegal aliens who meet certain provisions. The student centers proposed in AB 1366 would essentially serve as one-stop service centers to assist such students in the applications process.

House GOP proposes cutting IRS budget by nearly $1 billion

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen may have no more tears left to cry following last year’s relatively modest pruning of the IRS’s expected budget, so one wonders how he’ll amplify his Chicken Little rhetoric if Republicans have their way with more meaningful cuts this year.

The Hill reported Wednesday that Republican congressmen are proposing to fund the tax agency at $10.1 billion for 2016, $838 million less than the IRS received for 2015.

House GOP members unveiled the budget plan as part of the Financial Services and General Government Operations spending bill Wednesday.

Koskinen famously caterwauled that the 2015 budget would result in awful “customer service” and delayed tax refunds. “The challenge with yet another budget cut this year is that we’ll struggle to get close to the same crummy level of service we had last year,” Koskinen told USA Today in February.

President Obama had recommended an IRS budget increase that clocks in $2.8 billion over the Republicans’ 2016 proposal, but the House GOP contingent maintains that $10.1 billion is adequate for the agency to perform its essential tax-collecting function.