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Bryan Preston

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
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What’s More Popular: A Once-In-A-Lifetime Trip to Meet President Barack Obama, or a Pair of Edible Breadshoes?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In the left corner, we have the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, Barack Obama. He’s a youthful 52 years old, clearly up on the latest music and cultural trends, does his NCAA March Madness brackets with an amazing consistency, and weighs in on just about every issue there is. The man knows Beyoncé, fercryinoutloud.

In the right corner, a pair of size 12 (approximate) hand-made, sesame Italian loaf breadshoes. They’re edible, so I suppose you could stuff condiments and lunch meat into them and turn them into a sammich. Or wear them around the house, as long as you don’t have cats or dogs around.

This (minus the celebrity soccer player on the right).

showbiz_obama_beckham

Versus this.

breadshoe

 

Well, the team behind a secretive but cool-sounding, yet-to-be-launched app called Ratify is running a contest.

On the first day of the contest, the team announced that it was giving away a trip for two to Silicon Valley to meet President Barack Obama on May 8th.

On the second day, the team announced that it was throwing a curve: The winner could pick the trip to meet the president, or they could opt for a pair of breadshoes.

Promo for the contest has been minimal, according to an insider at Ratify: “I paid a guy $5 to tweet about it yesterday,” the insider told me in email.

Our source’s numbers reveal a couple of bad omens for Obama and the Democrats. Day one of the contest saw little interest and very few sign-ups — just 20 sign-ups to meet POTUS from 500 visitors.

Day two, though, after breadshoes became a possible prize, traffic took off. Of the approximately 2,000 visitors who took at look at the contest on the second day, 100 signed up.

“That gives us 5x conversions and 4x audience multipliers, due solely to breadshoes!” our insider noted.

The insider also notes that Ratify has seen a 300% increase in sign-ups from San Francisco, not exactly GOP territory. They’re going for the breadshoes, too.

And now, I’m hungry.

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Reporter Asks State Dept for One Accomplishment from Hillary Clinton’s Big Review Process. Let’s See What Happens.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

When she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton instituted a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. The first one was completed in December 2010.

Nearly four years later, AP reporter Matt Lee asked State Department Jen Psaki to name one thing that Clinton’s QDDR accomplished. Just one.

She can’t.

LEE: “Off the top of your head, can you name one tangible achievement that the last QDDR resulted in?”
PSAKI: “Well Matt, obviously it’s in an extensive, expansive process.”
LEE: “So no.”
PSAKI: “We’re looking at how it was done last time.”
LEE: “Just one.”
PSAKI: “I know, I’m making an important point here.”
LEE: “OK.”
PSAKI: “The secretary wants it to be focused on a more narrow range of issues. It’s always looking at how we can improve things and we’ll see where we come out at the end.”
LEE: “So off the top of your head can you identify one tangible achievement that resulted from the last QDDR?”
PSAKI: “I am certain that those who were here at the time, who worked hard on that effort –”
LEE: “One –”
[CROSSTALK]
PSAKI: “Could point out one.”
LEE: “Since you’ve come on board that you’ve noticed that you can point back to and say wow, the first QDDR identified this as a problem and dealt with it?”
PSAKI: “Well as you know, I’ve only been here since it concluded.”
LEE: “OK”
PSAKI: “So I’m sure there were a range of things that were put into place that I’m not even sure were a result.”
LEE: “I won’t hold my breath.”
PSAKI: “OK.”

Psaki has been at the State Department since February 2013. She’s part of the revolving door from lobbying and campaigns to government — Psaki came to State from the 2012 Obama campaign, a perch from which she attacked Mitt Romney’s foreign policy chops.

Romney turns out to have been right when he called Russia America’s number one geostrategic foe, while Psaki’s boss, Obama, has been proved wrong.

Unfortunately, to most Democrat voters, accomplishments don’t matter and they will support Hillary in 2016 anyway.

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Congrats, Bronies, You’ve Made Hasbro Profitable

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Fox Business story about Hasbro’s turn of fortunes uses gender-normative terminology that, after a tween stared down McDonald’s over its scandalous Happy Meals toys, is no longer politically correct.

Toymaker Hasbro Inc. on Monday said it swung to a profit from a year-ago loss, boosted by strong sales in its girls toys category. Hasbro reported a first-quarter profit of $32.1 billion, or 24 cents a share, versus a loss of $6.7 billion, or 5 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. (emphasis added, offense unintended)

We can’t call them “girls toys” anymore, for two reasons. In the case of My Little Pony toys, even though they’re intended for girls age 8 and under, adult men are actually buying them and watching the TV show. I wish I was kidding, but I am not. Bronies are a thing, as Ronan Farrow helpfully reported in-depth for MSNBC not long ago.

The second reason that we cannot call girls toys girls toys is because of the courage and forward thinking of Antonia Ayres-Brown. The teen slatepitched McDonald’s out of using gender-normative terminology to describe the toys it puts in its Happy Meals.

In the fall of 2008, when I was 11 years old, I wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s and asked him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals. I expressed my frustration that McDonald’s always asked if my family preferred a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” when we ordered a Happy Meal at the drive-through. My letter asked if it would be legal for McDonald’s “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”

A few weeks later, I received a short response from a McDonald’s customer satisfaction representative claiming that McDonald’s doesn’t train their employees to ask whether Happy Meal customers want boys’ or girls’ toys, and my experiences were not the norm.

This response was unsatisfying, so I began visiting more than a dozen local McDonald’s locations with my father to collect data. Ultimately, we brought a complaint to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities against McDonald’s for discriminating on the basis of sex. Despite our evidence showing that, in our test, McDonald’s employees described the toys in gendered terms more than 79 percent of the time, the commission dismissed our allegations as “absurd” and solely for the purposes of “titilation [sic] and sociological experimentation.” All in all, this was a pretty humiliating defeat.

She goes on, and on, and on, from there. Seriously. She and her parents whittled off years of their lives pushing McDonald’s into a position where it is not allowed to speak clearly about an obvious and harmless thing.

The ending of it all is that McDonald’s will now confuse the life out of anyone who asks for the boys toy or the girls toy, until they go away angry that they ever bothered to order the Happy Meal.

Next, one supposes that Ayres-Brown will demand that McDonald’s create Happy Meal toys for each of Facebook’s 50 gender options.

That could take a while.

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This Is An Actual, Serious CNN Headline

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It’s nice to see that the Clinton News Network has taken a break from Ancient Aliens Meets Flight 370 to cover Justin Bieber and the urgent stories of our day.

cnn-bieber

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Kerry: ‘It was easier’ During the Cold War

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Easier to get things wrong, I guess, whines the secretary of state.

Secretary of State John Kerry attested Tuesday to the massively complex challenges Washington faces in Ukraine, Russia, Iran and the Middle East, declaring “it was easier” during the Cold War.

In a candid moment during a State Department speech, the top US diplomat said changing global power dynamics made a quaint memory of the early East-West stalemate, when American children would “crouch under our desks at school and practice” safety steps for a possible nuclear attack.

“During the Cold War… it was easier than it is today — simpler is maybe a way to put it,” Kerry told aid and development experts.

“The choices were less varied, less complicated, more stark, more clear: Communism, democracy, West, East, the Iron Curtain.”

If it was so much easier during the Cold War, why did Kerry, Ted Kennedy and so many other Democrats get so much wrong? Kerry supported the 1980s  nuclear freeze movement, which was Soviet-funded in the West and aimed to disarm the free world of our nuclear deterrent. Ted Kennedy was working with the Soviets behind Reagan’s back, according to his KGB files. Numerous Democrats actually believed that Ronald Reagan was more of a threat to the world than any Soviet premier.

For his part, Kerry even got the war he fought in wrong. Vietnam was about containing international communism. He made it about smearing his fellow soldiers, with all that “Jenghis Ghan” stuff. When America abandoned Vietnam, as Kerry wanted, the communists went on a rampage and killed hundreds of thousands over the next several years.

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GOP Candidate Comes Up with Fantastic One-Word Response to Dems’ ‘War on Women’ Nonsense

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Terri Lynn Land is running for US Senate in Michigan. She has a one-word response for her Democrat opponent and his “war on women” schtick.

This is perfect. I don’t know anything about Land on the issues yet, but based on this ad, I like her and I suspect most viewers will too. She comes off as charming, yet no-nonsense at the same time. Land’s response taps right into how real people actually talk about the absurd, and it leaves the Democrats nowhere to go. Land is set to “Really?” them every time they claim “war on women” or any other ridiculous accusation that Democrats tend to toss out.

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Professor Tells Students to Hate Republicans

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Prof. Brent Terry teaches Introduction to Creative Writing at Eastern Connecticut State University. In a lecture Monday morning, he said that Republicans are “racist, misogynistic, money-grubbing people” who want to turn the clock back and keep blacks and Latinos from voting. The Republican Party was founded to end slavery while the Democrats started a civil war to preserve slavery, but ESCU’s history department probably doesn’t teach that. He also said that if the Republicans win the Senate this fall, America will be a “very, very different kind of country” in which colleges will start closing up.

Campus Reform reports that the audio was captured by a student, who wishes to remain anonymous. ESCU has released a statement saying “Our faculty has academic freedom to conduct their classes in whatever way they choose, this is not a university matter.”

Just another day in academia.

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NYC Official Pesters Texas Company for Donating to the NRA

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In which a leftwinger threatens a privately-owned Texas company for engaging in the political process.

Comptroller Scott Stringer, investment adviser and trustee to the $150 billion city pension funds, is questioning “both the magnitude and the corporate purpose” behind the Clayton Williams Energy Inc. donations to the National Rifle Association and American Crossroads, a conservative political action committee. He’s urging full disclosure to shareholders of all political spending, saying it poses “legal, reputational and operational risks.”

“The reported contributions are extremely large for such a small company and seem intended to further the political views of its chairman and CEO rather than the interests of the company itself,” Stringer said Monday.

Stringer, a Democrat, was a state assemblyman and Manhattan borough president before he was elected comptroller last year. His letter was emailed and faxed to the company Friday.

The answer should be straightforward: None of your business. The NRA is a perfectly legal organization that defends a basic civil right. It’s legal, even moral, to help the NRA do its job if one agrees with its aims and has the means to help.

New York’s comptroller doesn’t believe in “none of your business,” though. He believes in turning government into a partisan weapon.

New York City’s pension funds have submitted about 55 shareholder proposals for 2014, withdrawing nearly half after reaching agreements with the companies, spokesman Eric Sumberg said. Topics include political spending disclosures, executive pay clawback policies, proxy access, board and workplace diversity and environmental risk management.

About 700 to 800 nonbinding shareholder resolutions are filed annually in the U.S., mostly at large companies. Many focus on shareholder value and management accountability, while others are concerned with social issues like global warming, labor rights or gender equality.

Basically, he’s on a jihad to social engineer private companies via pension pestering. It’s all about overturning Citizens United, which is settled law by the way, however and by whatever means come to hand. The IRS scandal is a symptom of a deep progressive obsession with limiting speech that disagrees with them.

It’s clearer by the day that progressives are perfectly happy to leave others free to do exactly what progressives demand, no more and no less.

h/t JWF

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The Fast-Growing City Where Americans Feel Least Safe Is…

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

On the Texas-Mexico border, according to TIME.

1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas
> Pct. feel safe at night: 48.5%
> Pct. without money for shelter: 24.5% (the highest)
> Violent crime rate: 319.2 per 100,000 (160th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 34.5% (2nd highest)
> Population: 809,759 (90th highest)

McAllen was the only metro area in which less than half of all respondents felt safe walking home alone at night. This was despite the fact that McAllen actually had a lower violent crime rate than the United States overall in 2012, at just 319 incidents per 100,000 residents, versus 387 crimes for 100,000 residents nationally. However, violence along the border with Mexico remains a concern for many McAllen residents. The State Department warns against traveling to the neighboring city of Reynosa, Mexico, due to high levels of drug-related violence. Additionally, nearly 25% of residents stated they did not have enough money for adequate shelter at some point in the previous year, by far the most of any metro area. A lack of adequate shelter may be tied to the relatively low economic prosperity in the region. In 2012, 34.5% of residents lived below the poverty line, and the median household income was just $33,761, both among the worst in the nation.

TIME needs to keep up. Local official claims that crime has been reduced are bogus. The people don’t feel safe because they live close to a drug war, they have endured –frankly, they have elect and re-elected — deep corruption for far too long, and local officials tend to be criminals. Above all that, President Obama mocks people who want greater border security.

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Michigan’s Affirmative Action Ban Easily Upheld at SCOTUS; Media Go with the ‘Sharply Divided’ Meme

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Since when is a 6-2 Supreme Court decision a product of a “sharply divided” court? The answer seems to be, when the decision isn’t one that goes along with the medialeft’s notions about how things ought to be.

McClatchy’s Michael Doyle leads off his article on the Supreme Court upholding Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions like this:

WASHINGTON — Affirmative action again split the Supreme Court on Tuesday, as sharply divided justices upheld a Michigan measure that bans preferential treatment in college admissions based on race or ethnicity.

In a highly anticipated and fractured decision, justices in a plurality decision said courts lacked authority to interfere with the political decision made by Michigan voters.

“Courts may not disempower the voters from choosing which path to follow,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

Six justices agreed with the conclusion that sustains the Michigan measure. Only Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito, though, fully agreed with Kennedy’s reasoning, limiting the potential reach of the decision. Kennedy, moreover, emphasized the limits of the ruling.

“It is important to note what this case is not about,” Kennedy stressed. “It is not about the constitutionality, or the merits, of race-conscious admissions policies in higher education.”

Conservative justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia joined in a separate concurring opinion, arguing Michigan’s measure was undeniably legal, while liberal Justice Stephen Breyer wrote his own concurring opinion.

So we have six justices, easily a majority of the nine on the court, agreeing to uphold Michigan’s law, just differing among themselves on nuances. Only two, the most liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, went the other way. Elena Kagan recused herself, but even if she had joined the dissent, it’s a 6-3.

The court’s majority mirrors the majority that approved the law in the first place — 58% approved it as a constitutional amendment in 2006.

McClatchy wasn’t done with its mischaracterization of the court’s ruling.

The court’s relatively narrow decision Monday, though, largely sidestepped the costs and benefits of affirmative action, focusing instead on the political process.

Again, it was 6-2. 5-4 is “relatively narrow.” 6-2 is not.

All of that said, let’s return to Justice Kennedy’s argument: ““Courts may not disempower the voters from choosing which path to follow.”

Really? What about California’s Prop 8?

 

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Obama Sends Strongest Signal Yet that He Expects Democrats to Lose the Senate

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

If Democrats lose the Senate this fall, Barack Obama loses the lynchpin of his lawlessness. The Senate in Harry Reid’s grubby hands has killed Obamacare repeal bills by the bushel and keeps every possibility of holding Obama accountable at bay. But the Senate in GOP hands can, and likely will, open a slew of investigations that have been locked in the House or stymied outright up to now. For Obama, facing a House Oversight Committee investigation into the IRS scandal is one thing. Facing investigations in both the House and Senate, and the probability of select committees investigating various things, with John McCain and a newly empowered Ted Cruz and Mike Lee baying at him, is another thing entirely.

The Senate can impeach.* I don’t expect that to actually happen, but the threat alone is bracing. As long as Harry Reid controlled the Senate, there was no threat at all.

Now, with polls showing the Democrats’ Senate majority in major trouble, Barack Obama is lawyering up.

President Obama on Monday said he has selected W. Neil Eggleston to become chief counsel, adding the expertise of a veteran attorney who was involved in some of the most heated legal battles of the Clinton administration.

Eggleston, a white-collar defender who is now at Kirkland & Ellis, will replace departing White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler in mid-May.

“Neil brings extraordinary expertise, credentials, and experience, to our team,” Obama said in a statement. “He has a passion for public service, is renowned for his conscientiousness and foresight, and I look forward to working closely with him in the coming years.”

And, he helped defend scandal-scarred Bill Clinton.

Obama’s departing counsel may also find herself under investigation.

When an IRS audit found that the tax collection agency had been targeting conservative political groups, it was Ruemmler’s decision not to tell the president about the findings, in an attempt to shield Obama from charges he interfered in the investigation.

She also advised the president to resist congressional demands to release draft talking points following last year’s attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, infuriating congressional Republicans.

*Some quibbling in comments over this sentence. The House files charges and conducts impeachment trials, but the Senate votes whether to convict or not. If the Senate convicts, removal from office is automatic. So it’s the Senate that is essentially the jury and does the removing. I don’t see any of this happening during Obama’s last two years in office, but the fact has been that Reid’s control of the Senate has allowed Obama to get away with an awful lot.

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Obama Admin’s Bragging Costs them a Victory in Court

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Loose lips

A federal appeals panel in Manhattan ordered the release on Monday of key portions of a classified Justice Department memorandum that provided the legal justification for the targeted killing of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who intelligence officials contend had joined Al Qaeda and died in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

The unanimous three-judge panel, reversing a lower court decision, said the government had waived its right to keep the analysis secret in light of numerous public statements by administration officials and the Justice Department’s release of a “white paper” offering a detailed analysis of why targeted killings were legal.

“Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had,” Judge Jon O. Newman wrote for the panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, “has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and official disclosure of the D.O.J. White Paper.”

The administration had already leaked the “white paper” to NBC News. Then several officials, including the attorney general and John Brennan, now the CIA director, bragged about offing Awlaki for the political benefit of making them look tough on terrorism (despite the president’s inability to honestly call terrorism out at Fort Hood, which was inspired by Awlaki). Then, they decided to hide the best parts under a veil of secrecy.

There’s no set timeline for the administration to disclose the memo, so look for it to come out sometime around January 2017.

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Unearthed Footage Shows Progressive Hero Calling for Ban: ‘No More Babies!’

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Margaret Sanger, called Margaret Slee in this clip as Slee was her second husband’s name, was founder and first president of Planned Parenthood. Sanger is such an icon on the left today that Planned Parenthood has named an award in her honor, and both Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi have both been awarded it.

The clip is from 1947, just two years after World War II ravaged civilization. The timing is therefore interesting. The world was certainly not overpopulated, not after the Soviet famine, not after the Nazis and the Holocaust.

In the 1947 interview, eugenicist Sanger called for a full ban on all childbearing in the developing world for 10 years.

YouTube Preview Image

The clip is among a collection of 85,000 recently uploaded to YouTube by British Pathé.

When Hillary Clinton proudly accepted the Margaret Sanger Award a few year ago, she said: “I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision, when I think about what she did all those years ago in Brooklyn, taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions, I am really in awe of her.”

Pelosi accepted her Margaret Sanger Award in 2014.

h/t Daily Caller

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Wendy Davis Campaign Morphs Into Clown Show

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

What do you do if you’re falling behind and you’re wrong about, well, everything? If you’re Wendy Davis, you hire a castoff from Harry Reid’s house of lies and you just lie about whatever comes up.

The example is in today’s Dallas Morning News, via editorial writer Rodger Jones.

Fact No. 1: Texas public school districts that offer Pre-K already assess them for effectiveness.
Fact No. 2: The Davis campaign has been ridiculing the idea of assessing Pre-K kids, calling it “standardized testing for four-year-olds” and imposition of “Baby STAAR” tests.
Fact No. 3: The Davis campaign has been mum on whether she would ban Pre-K assessments that districts now administer.

Just this afternoon, the campaign put out an email that starts with this headline: “DAVIS CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN RESPONDS TO DMN EDITOR RODGER JONES”

Never mind that I’m not editor of the DMN, or an editor of any kind. The release continued this way:

FORT WORTH – Wendy Davis campaign communications director Zac Petkanas responded to editorial board editor Rodger Jones’ defense of Greg Abbott’s plan to impose standardized testing onto four year olds.

“Greg Abbott’s so-called education plan does something that Texas currently does not do: impose a top down mandate tying additional state resources for pre-K classrooms with how well four year olds do on standardized test assessments.

“Under Abbott’s plan, school districts with pre-K students who don’t meet the mark have their resources slashed.

“To say that this currently takes place in Texas today is just plain wrong.”

I’m saying one simple thing: Pre-K assessments happen today, a reality that may have caught the Davis campaign by surprise as they set out to criticize the very idea of making sure tax money is used properly.

This is aside from any comparison of the Abbott and Davis Pre-K plans. This is a reality check for the Davis folks. A sample of what they put out last week:

“Four-year-olds should be coloring with crayons, not filling in bubbles with No. 2 pencils,” Davis told a crowd of about 80 people at the Texas State Teachers Association.

It’s a distortion for effect, and they know it.

It’s cute, how Wendy Davis and Zac Petkanas think they can just make up whatever reality they want.

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EXCLUSIVE: How One Brave Woman and Her Group of Patriots Took a Corrupt Border Sheriff Down

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

For nearly two years I’ve worked with a source who I couldn’t identify, but who deserved a great deal of credit and applause. This person is a business owner, a mom, an investigator, and as it turns out a courageous fighter for honest government.

Faced with a corrupt sheriff in a Texas border county across the Rio Grande from a drug war, she patiently gathered up evidence of corruption and crime. Despite credible threats to herself and her family, she persevered — and the sheriff is now among more than a dozen who have or soon will stand trial.

Meet her here.

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VIDEO — Uniformed Police Officer Caught Tripping Students Rushing to Field to Celebrate a State Championship

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

From KTBC-TV in the people’s republic of Austin.

Rohan Gupta, a student at Vandegrift High School, posted the video to YouTube. The Vandegrift girls soccer won their first state championship beating Wile 1-0.

As the clock hit zero, students jumped out of the stands and on to the field. Over the loud speakers the announcer can be heard telling the crowd to stay of the field.

Watch the lower right side of your screen at about 8-seconds into the video to see the officer apparently trip one young man, who ends up limping off the field. The officer  tries to trip a second person, then grabs another.

YouTube Preview Image

It looks like assault to me.

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Dem Congressman Says Obamacare’s ‘Worst Is Yet to Come’

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Massachusetts Rep. Steve Lynch (D) voted for Obamacare, but he told the Boston Herald that “the worst is yet to come” from Obamacare. Lynch noted that the “Cadillac tax” will, for the first time in American history, impose a tax on health insurance, and that it will be a massive tax.

Lynch believes that Obamacare will cost the Democrats seats in the House this year, and will also probably cost them the Senate. He told the Herald that things will “hit the fan” when many of Obamacare’s elements are implemented. They have been postponed, he said, because they are the law’s “most unpalatable” provisions.

Specifically, he said “Any individual with an individual health care plan that exceeds $10,200 is in a ‘Cadillac plan’ situation. They’re gonna have to pay that employer, if they provide that and many do today, never mind in 2018, will have to pay a 40% tax on the amount over the…maximum established by the Affordable Care Act. So that’s a huge tax.”

But, he says that repealing the law is “impossible” because so many Americans are already dependent on it.

Which was the plan all along, of course — make more Americans dependent on government as a means of yoking them to it.

YouTube Preview Image

h/t NRO

 

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Bored with Stonewalling Republicans, Obama White House Now Stonewalling Democrats on the Keystone

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

During today’s White House press briefing, ABC’s Jon Karl asked spokesman Jay Carney to react to Democrats who have stated their anger over the Obama administration’s most recent delay in the Keystone Pipeline. The Obama administration announced that delay on Friday — Good Friday — one of its many misuses of holidays. Vulnerable Democrat senators like Mary Landrieu (LA) say they are “appalled” by the decision.

Rather than own up to the decision and its political nature, Carney pawned the decision off onto the State Department. Watch the video.

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How Many of Georgia’s Obamacare Enrollees Have Actually Paid?

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Half, according to Georgia Health News.

Georgia insurers received more than 220,000 applications for health coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s exchange as of the official federal deadline of March 31, state officials said Wednesday.

Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, though, said premiums have been received for only 107,581 of those policies, which cover 149,465 people.

“Many Georgians completed the application process by the deadline, but have yet to pay for the coverage,” Hudgens said in a statement Wednesday.

Which means they’re not actually insured.

How many other states have similar rates? If there are a lot of Georgias out there, the “7 million” that Obama bragged about is even phonier than we thought.

h/t Daily Surge

 

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Bloomberg’s New Gun-Grabber Group Wants to Invade Gun Owners’ Homes

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Driving on our roads is a privilege regulated at the state level through licensing.

Gun ownership is a civil right guaranteed in the Constitution.

Those facts in mind, let’s have a look at another of Everytown’s propaganda graphics.

everytown-cars-guns

 

That graphic implies quite a lot. If Bloomberg were to get his way, police or some other government agency would be mandated to step into gun owners’ homes at regular intervals to keep tabs on the firearms and the people in those homes.

We are already seeing a disturbing, even frightening, militarization of local police. Federal agencies that have no real police power now have heavily armed SWAT-style units.

Bloomberg would add to all of that, having police inspect every firearm owner’s home.

That’s literally a police state.

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Clue for Bloomberg’s New Anti-Gun Group: This Is Not What Happens When a Bullet is Fired

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Mike Bloomberg’s latest anti-gun group, Everytown.org, debuted over the weekend with this graphic.

bloomgerg-antigun-graphic

 

The graphic depicts a cartoon bullet flying, shell casing and all, like a rocket out of a cartoon gun barrel.

Suffice it to say that when a bullet is fired, the depiction above is not what actually happens.

Bloomberg has pledged to spend $50 million on gun control efforts, despite the fact that the Second Amendment is settled law. He might be wise to invest in high-speed photography, or in an artist who actually knows the first thing about firearms.

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Politico: Obama Delayed Keystone (Again) to Appease a Leftwing Billionaire

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Harry Reid accuses the Koch brothers of trying to “buy America,” yet if Politico’s Ben White is correct, then Barack Obama has sold American energy security and part of its foreign policy to a leftwing billionaire.

That billionaire’s name is Tom Steyer. He bankrolled many of the attacks on Ken Cuccinelli that handed Virginia’s governor race to Terry McAuliffe. He has pledged $100 million to buy the Democratic Party support Democrat candidates this fall — but, apparently, only if Obama keeps the Keystone Pipeline from being built.

White appeared on CNBC today, and said I think it’s [delaying the Keystone] net negative for Democratic candidates across the board. But that’s totally outweighed by the $100 million from Tom Steyer. He’s an environmentalist who says look if you approve the Keystone, my money goes away. And the White House says that they need that money. The Koch brothers are going to spend like crazy, to win the Senate. We need to counter balance that with $100 million from Tom Steyer, whoever else we can get it from.”

Canada’s friendship, US energy security and tens of thousands of jobs aren’t worth $100 million to the Obama Democrats.

Watch video of White’s remarks:

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Reid Admits that His Koch Attacks Are All for Show

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Senate’s majority leader admits that he’s Alinskying American citizens for fun and political profit.

Reid had a little Q&A with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The paper confronted him about why he wants the DISCLOSE Act passed, and why he spends so much time attacking the Koch brothers (and so little time doing anything good for the country).

Reid’s lack of shame is remarkable.

• In response to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision of 2010, Reid called for a renewed push to pass the DISCLOSE Act, a law that would have forced all political organizations to report their donors. When I said the act would simply require reporting of the contributions, but not stop the flood of political money, Reid disagreed, and said it would especially stop those whose donations are shielded by law now.

“The DISCLOSE Act would stop a lot of money,” he said. “Those people that go with the secret money, they do it because they don’t want anybody to know they’re giving the money.”

Ironically enough, that answer seems to admit one of the primary arguments against full disclosure laws, which is that they would have a chilling effect on free speech. The U.S. Supreme Court, in several decisions, has acknowledged that chilling effect, but said laws such as the DISCLOSE Act impose a lighter burden on the First Amendment than laws that limit political contributions or spending.

That fear has been realized by the IRS’ conduct.

• Reid refused to back away from his criticism of the Koch brothers, oil billionaires who have funded a sprawling network of political groups, including Americans for Prosperity and groups focusing on veterans and seniors. “They’re trying to buy America,” Reid said. “I think having America for sale is not good.”

But he has no criticism at all for convicted felon George Soros, who has poured far more money into “buying America” than the Koch brothers have.

But a New York Times story published last month about the strategy puts a decidedly different spin on it. “Democrats say the strategy of spotlighting the Koch brothers’ activities is politically shrewd,” the story says. “The majority leader [Reid] was particularly struck by a presentation during a recent Senate Democratic retreat, which emphasized that one of the best ways to draw an effective contrast is to pick a villain, one of his aides said. And by scolding the Koch brothers, Mr. Reid is trying to draw them out, both to raise their public profile, and also to help rally the Democratic base. The approach stems, in part, from Democratic-funded research showing that many voters believe the political system is rigged in favor of the super rich.”

After I read that passage, Reid replied simply, “So?”

I pressed: “This is a political strategy, isn’t it, as well as a fundraising strategy? The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been raising money like gangbusters after you’ve been talking about the Koch brothers and as you said, you’ve given America the villain that they need to identify with as you struggle with your Democrats to overcome the objections to Obamacare and try to remain the majority.”

Again, Reid’s reply: “So?”

Reid admits in all that, that the DISCLOSE Act is as political as his attacks on the Koch brothers. There is no great principle motivating him, other than raw power. He only wants that law passed to scare conservative money out of the political process.

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Snowden Reportedly Dismayed to Learn that He Now Looks Like Vlad Putin’s Toy

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In which the NSA leaker does damage control from the neo-USSR.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden instantly regretted asking Russian President Vladimir Putin a softball question on live television about the Kremlin’s mass surveillance effort, two sources close to the leaker tell The Daily Beast.

“It certainly didn’t go as he would’ve hoped,” one of these sources said. “I don’t think there’s any shame in saying that he made an error in judgment.”

“He basically viewed the question as his first foray into criticizing Russia. He was genuinely surprised that in reasonable corridors it was seen as the opposite,” added Ben Wizner, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who serves as one of Snowden’s closest advisers.

According to Wizner and others, Snowden hadn’t realized how much last week’s Q&A—with Putin blithely assuring Snowden that Moscow had no such eavesdropping programs—would appear to be a Kremlin propaganda victory to Western eyes. And so the leaker quickly decided to write an op-ed for the Guardian to explain his actions and to all but label Putin a liar for his televised response.

It isn’t just Snowden’s public softball game with Putin that has raised suspicions of him. Snowden is suspect because, first, he chose to run to Hong Kong and then to Russia after he leaked the NSA’s surveillance programs to a leftwing journalist.

Following that, he had nothing to say about Russia’s mass surveillance of journalists and presumably athletes and visitors during the Socchi Olympics.

Following that, Snowden appeared at SXSW via video conference from Russia. During that talk, he again had nothing to say about Russia’s surveillance programs, its suspected assassinations of journalists, its recent clampdown on the last of Russia’s free press, nothing.

Everything about that SXSW talk carried bad optics. Snowden spoke from Russia shortly after Putin had invaded and taken Crimea. Snowden had nothing to say about that. Snowden assailed US domestic spying policies — fair enough — but from Russia at a time when his very appearance made the US appear impotent against Russia, and when Russian forces are menacing Ukraine and the stability of Europe.

Neither of Snowden’s two 2014 appearances can possibly have happened without Kremlin approval.

Ever since Snowden landed in Moscow under the watchful eye of the Russian surveillance state, he’s been represented in Russia by a man deeply connected to the Kremlin in addition to his American counsel. It’s one of many reasons why critics have accused the leaker of being a Putin patsy. That criticism has been accompanied by a whisper campaign from both the American and Russian governments alleging that Snowden was under the thumb of Putin’s intelligence services, a claim Snowden and his camp have strongly denied.

He can deny it all he wants. The fact is, the Russian government knows where he is and has total control over whether it extends his asylum in August or not. Russia could have shut down Snowden’s SXSW talk, but didn’t, because it presented the images that Putin wanted presented. Russia could have shut off Snowden’s direct question to Putin, but again, it didn’t, because it provided invaluable domestic and international propaganda for the Putin regime.

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Obama Just Set up a Headfake for the Democrats on the Keystone

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It’s Good Friday. Time for the leftwing president to do something bad.

Barack Obama just punted on the Keystone Pipeline, again, and some Democrats say they are angry at him.

The Obama administration once again has punted on a final decision for the Keystone XL pipeline, announcing ahead of the holiday weekend it is extending a key review period indefinitely — a move that could push off a determination until after the midterm elections.

Republicans, as well as red-state Democrats who want the proposed Canada-to-Texas pipeline approved, slammed the administration for the delay. Democrats even threatened to find ways to go around the president to get the project approved.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous that this well over five year long process is continuing for an undetermined amount of time,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a statement.

Republican Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry called the decision “shameful,” noting that another spring construction season will come and go without the project.

Do ya think Obama knows or cares about that? Has he ever shown that he cares about jobs? Obama doesn’t govern; he agitates, he positions, and he tees up issues.

Obama doesn’t care about jobs, but he does care some about Democrats keeping the Senate. Eleven Democrats recently wrote him a letter urging approval of the Keystone. They’re all vulnerable senators. If they lose, the Democrats lose the Senate and Obama will find himself cornered during the last two years of his presidency. He doesn’t want the Keystone, but he doesn’t want to be cornered more.

Obama’s heart is clearly with the anti-science environmental radicals who oppose the Keystone. But he doesn’t want to lose the Senate.

My guess is, Obama made this extension indefinite to give himself control over when to end it and announce approval. He’ll do that once he has handed the environmental radicals who oppose it something in return, so they don’t abandon Democrats this fall. They will get some nasty new spin on EPA regulations, another turtle that needs protecting from ranchers, whatever. Around August or September, Obama will announce a change of heart, approve the Keystone, and give vulnerable Democrats something positive to crow about at home close to the elections.

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LA County Sheriff’s Department Hid Massive Surveillance System From the Public, Because they Suspected that the Public Wouldn’t Like It

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Maybe it’s the fact that a corrupt county sheriff just pleaded guilty to the least of the crimes he committed, but the idea of a law enforcement agency having the power of persistent surveillance over huge swaths of land and population is extremely disturbing. In the case of Hidalgo County, I’ve only reported a small part of the full story here. My source received credible threats over the course of about three years. On one trip to the county, we were tailed. I was driving a rental car on an unannounced trip — we were tailed because someone was keeping tabs on my source. This was all done, as far as we can tell, by people who answered to Sheriff Trevino, for the purpose of intimidating citizens to keep them quiet.

Now, imagine what he could have done with a system like the LA County surveillance system.

The system, known as wide-area surveillance, is something of a time machine – the entire city is filmed and recorded in real time. Imagine Google Earth with a rewind button and the ability to play back the movement of cars and people as they scurry about the city.

“We literally watched all of Compton during the time that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” [Ross] McNutt [owner of Persistent Surveillance Systems] said. “Our goal was to basically jump to where reported crimes occurred and see what information we could generate that would help investigators solve the crimes.”

Right. And in the wrong hands, that system is not a crime fighter. It’s a tool of serious oppression.

The LA County Sheriff’s Department may or not be the wrong hands as in Hidalgo County, but they behaved as if they can’t and shouldn’t be trusted.

“The system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public,” (LASD Sgt.) Iketani said. “A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush.”

That’s just great.

h/t Instapundit, Ace

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Here’s a Mayor Who Should be Impeached

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Peoria, IL’s mayor sent the police after someone who parodied him on Twitter, according to Reason.

Jim Ardis, mayor of Peoria, Illinois, ordered police to track down whoever was responsible for a parody Twitter account mocking him.

As a result, police raided a West Bluff home, seized property, and detained three people for questioning. The Twitter account, @PeoriaMayor, has been suspended. According to the Journal Star, the account had all of 50 posts and an equal number of followers. The Twitter profile apparently did not initially indicate that it was a parody account, but added that label in early March.

The label was hardly necessary, though, to prevent reader confusion. The Journal Starexplains that “police were informed of the account by Ardis on March 12. The tweets implied ‘Mayor Ardis utilizes illegal drugs, associates with prostitutes and utilized offensive inappropriate language,’ according to an affidavit filed for the warrant.” Who would actually believe such tweets were coming from the mayor? Well, maybe residents of Toronto.

Well, yeah.

Still, it’s not a crime to be a pest on Twitter.

Check out the update:

Over at Vice, Justin Glawe knows the people involved in the parody account andreports on their fears. He also highlights some of the problems with the police department there. It’s worth a read.

The police seem to have treated the parodist as if he’s the kingpin of an international drug cartel.

Jon Daniel woke up on Thursday morning to a news crew in his living room, which was a welcome change from the company he had on Tuesday night, when the Peoria, Illinois, police came crashing through the door. The officers tore the 28-year-old’s home apart, seizing electronics and taking several of his roommates in for questioning; one woman who lived there spent three hours in an interrogation room. All for a parody Twitter account.

If someone is not suspected of a violent crime — in this case, not a crime at all — what’s the justification for police going all SWAT on them?

After the military-style arrest, Daniel may rack up enough lawyer fees defending himself that he’ll end up bankrupt.

For not committing any crime…

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Wendy Davis Deals Are the Subject of an FBI Corruption Investigation

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Texas Democrats’ great hyped hope has another, very large, problem on her hands. Travis County officials have revealed that state Sen. Davis’ lawyer work with the North Texas Tollway Authority is part of FBI investigation.

The Dallas Morning News has the bombshell.

The Travis County district attorney’s office said last month that details from its review of a 2012 complaint that a rival filed about Davis’ legal and political activities were “the subject of an open investigation” by the FBI. The district attorney’s office closed its review last year without taking any action.

Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, has said her legal work for the agency posed no conflicts with her legislative duties.

Zac Petkanas, a Davis spokesman, said the FBI has not questioned her. He said Davis was told in August by her legal counsel that others were interested in the information gathered in the Travis County investigation, but she didn’t know it was the FBI until this month when contacted by The Dallas Morning News.

“We are not aware that Wendy Davis is the subject or target of any investigation,” he said.

Travis County is notoriously political, biased toward Democrats since the days of District Attorney Ronnie Earle. That’s not my opinion. It’s a fact.

Travis County prosecutors, in a March 24 letter, told the attorney general’s office that the FBI had informed them that release of files from the district attorney’s now-completed 2013 review of Davis’ legal work for the agency “would interfere with the FBI’s prosecution of the crime underlying the information.”

The county’s letter came in response to The News’ open-records request for the files. The county cited several potential justifications for withholding the files, including the ongoing federal inquiry.

Read the rest.

The complaint against Davis stems from her 2012 run for re-election to the Texas Senate. Her Republican opponent, state Rep. Mark Shelton, filed a complaint with Travis County, which looked into the matter but concluded that since Davis’ actions mostly took place in Tarrant County, Travis authorities lacked jurisdiction. That did not stop them from going after Tom DeLay a few years back, even charging him with actions that were not illegal when they occurred (DeLay’s convictions were overturned on appeal in 2013 — he was fully acquitted). So it’s no surprise that Travis decided not to prosecute Davis, a Democrat.

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First Photos Emerge from Star Wars VII Set

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

A pair of photos from the set of Star Wars VII have hit the ‘net. They don’t show much, other than to confirm that shooting on the first true sequel to the Star Wars franchise since Return of the Jedi is underway. It’s set for release in December 2015.

The photos show a desert landscape in Dubai, which has replaced unstable Tunisia as the backdrop for Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine. The second shows what appears to be props to build the foot of an imperial AT-AT. They made their first appearance in 1979′s Empire Strikes Back, in the battle for ice planet Hoth.

Sightings Of The Set Of Star Wars

 

R2-D2 is the only confirmed character to return from the earlier films, but others are expected to make cameo appearances, at least. Disney now owns, and J.J. Abrams now directs, the Star Wars franchise.

h/t HuffPo

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Media Matters, Union Buster?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The irony in this DC Examiner story is so luxurious and rich I’d like to bathe in it.

Media Matters for America is apparently resisting an effort by Service Employees International Union Local 500 to unionize its staff.

Last week, the union filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board, indicating that the nonprofit media watchdog organization rejected an effort by the union to organize MMFA’s staff through a Card Check election.

[T]he filing does indicate that MMFA is not automatically accepting Local 500′s attempt to represent it’s staff. The nonprofit media watchdog group has hired the law firm Perkins Coie, which specializes in representing management in labor disputes, to represent it before the board.

Media Matters: Big Labor for thee, and thee, and thee…but not for me.

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Snowden Plays With Putin, and Just Might be a Foreign Spy

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

So, how did this happen?

NSA leaker Edward Snowden asked Russian President Vladimir Putin about whether Russia uses its own mass surveillance system, in a video during a question-and-answer session on Russian television.

“Does Russia, intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?” Snowden asked, according to a video clip posted by Russia Today.

The question, which Snowden asked via video from an undisclosed location (not to Putin), afforded Putin the opportunity to set himself up as a greater champion of individual liberty than the American government. Putin took that opportunity and ran with it.

Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law, so how special forces can use this kind of special equipment to intercept phone calls or follow someone online, and you have to get court permission to stalk a particular person,” Putin said, according to an English translation by Russia Today.

“We don’t have a mass system of such interception and according with our law, it cannot exist,” Putin said.

However, Putin added that “criminals and terrorists” use technology and “of course” Russia’s special services have to use the same means in response.

See, Russia is just a big ol’ Teddy bear!

USA Today is asking whether Snowden was/is a foreign intelligence asset.

Western intelligence services must assume that Snowden – either on purpose or inadvertently – has leaked to the Chinese and Russian governments the totality of the information with which he fled the U.S., says Fox, adding it would be “utterly inappropriate and irresponsible” to assume that Snowden had been to those countries and they had been unable to intercept the data.

Other senior intelligence officials share the same concern over Snowden’s allegiances. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the outgoing chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, believes Snowden is likely connected with Russian spies.

“We know today no counterintelligence official in the United States does not believe that Mr. Snowden, the NSA contractor, is not under the influence of Russian intelligence services,” he said March 23 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”He is actually supporting in an odd way this very activity of brazen brutality and expansionism of Russia. He needs to understand that. And I think Americans need to understand that. We need to put it in proper context.

After today’s public exchange with Putin, the support looks a whole lot more direct. Russian intelligence was notorious for spying on foreign journalists during the Socchi Olympics. Given Putin’s deep history with the KGB, it’s unreasonable to assume that Russia doesn’t spy on its own citizens every day.

Snowden’s last major public address came via video conference, to SXSW in Austin back in March. During that conference, he had very little to say about Russia, other than to claim that neither Russia nor China had been able to break the encryption he had put on the data he took from the US. But supposing he is telling the truth, there is no way that he can know that with certainty. The safe way to bet is that both China and Russia have what he has.

Exit question: Will the recent Pulitzers based on Snowden’s disclosures turn out, years from now, to look just as foolish as the Pulitzer bestowed on Soviet apologist Walter Duranty?

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Charges Dropped in Ridiculous PA Student Wiretapping Case

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The story of the bullied kid who recorded his bullies, only to then get bullied by his school and the local police, is about to end on a happy note. The District Attorney is getting the last say, and will drop the charges entirely.

No one in our office who was authorized to give advice on wiretap issues or school conduct issues was ever contacted in this matter. We have made multiple attempts to contact the officer who wrote the citation. Those attempts have been unsuccessful. It is our intention to withdraw the citation on April 29 because we do not believe his conduct rises to the level of a citation.

Would there have been a positive ending if blogs hadn’t turned the story into a national issue? Unlikely.

h/t Eugene Volokh.

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What Kind of an Idiot Names His PAC ‘Boats ‘N Hoes’?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This kind.

Political consulting firm employee Shaun Nowacki registered the political action committee, “Boats ‘N Hoes PAC,” with the Texas Ethics Commission on April 1, according to state records.

Nowacki is listed as comptroller for Blakemore and Associates Consulting Firm, whose namesake, Allen Blakemore, is the “senior strategist” for Republican Dan Patrick’s lieutenant governor campaign. The firm also advised Greg Abbott, the GOP nominee for governor, during eight previous campaigns from 1991 to 2004, according to Blakemore’s website.

The distance from that dope to major Texas GOP candidates is considerable, but not enough to keep Democrats from squawking about it. That’s politics. Republicans quickly distanced themselves from the idiotically named PAC, which seems to be named after a comedic, and probably offensive to many, rap in the 2008 movie Step Brothers, which starred Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.

Perhaps registering it on April 1 is supposed to make it some sort of prank, but whether that’s the case or not, it backfired. The Democrats pounced and commenced with the usual “war on women” bits.

That name constitutes a war on taste and good sense. It’s fair to seriously question the judgement of the individual who registered it, even as a joke.

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Cantor Rips Obama after Presidential Phone Call on Immigration

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Barack Obama still does not understand that when you insult people in public, they’re unlikely to work with you in private. Rep. Eric Cantor reminded him of that in a statement this afternoon.

“Today, President Obama called me to discuss his desire for comprehensive immigration reform. The President called me hours after he issued a partisan statement which attacked me and my fellow House Republicans and which indicated no sincere desire to work together. After five years, President Obama still has not learned how to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue. I told the President the same thing I told him the last time we spoke. House Republicans do not support Senate Democrats’ immigration bill and amnesty efforts, and it will not be considered in the House. I also reiterated to the President there are other issues where we can find common ground, build trust and get America working again. I hope the President can stop his partisan messaging, and begin to seriously work with Congress to address the issues facing working middle class Americans that are struggling to make ends meet in this economy.”

Well, maybe Obama does understand the impact of his public insults. In that case, he just wants to pick a fight. That’s not what a leader does, but it’s what a community organizer does.

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Catholic Cardinal: Obamacare Forces Charities to Make One of Four Choices, None of Which Are Good

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Francis Cardinal George of Chicago has written a Lent letter to his parishioners that lays out the stark choices facing the church in the age of Obamacare. The president’s signature law was not written to include abortifacient mandates. Those came with the regulations written by the bureaucracy and signed off on by Kathleen Sebelius and ultimately, Barack Obama. They could be lifted with the stroke of a pen, without Obama behaving in any lawless way. Yet they remain in full effect despite years of protest and lawsuits.

Why? The immediate political point of them, generating backlash and a phony “war on women” for the 2012 election, has already been served.

The mandate forces Catholic institutions — hospitals, adoption agencies, schools, and so forth — into an array of bad options.

So far in American history, our government has respected the freedom of individual conscience and of institutional integrity for all the many religious groups that shape our society. The government has not compelled them to perform or pay for what their faith tells them is immoral. That’s what we’ve meant by freedom of religion. That’s what we had believed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we were foolish to believe so.

What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.

It’s that fourth option that the regulations are probably intended to bring about: close down. Leave the government in charge of “charity,” and push the church out of public life altogether. Christians would maintain a “freedom of worship,” but not the freedom to act on their faith. That’s false freedom.

This has already happened in the case of Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts. Gay marriage legalization paved the way for destroying those agencies. They closed. So forcing Christian charities to close down to satisfy current political trends is not hypothetical. It has been happening for years. The precedent has been set.

The “freedom of worship” has found recent favor on the left. That’s little more than a trick, writes the cardinal.

Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship-no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government. We fought a long cold war to defeat that vision of society.

If churches are not free to act out the faith of their believers, then what are they for? What is worship for? What is worship? That’s not a peripheral question, it’s at the very heart of what the Obama administration is doing. In a very real way, it is setting up government as a false god, an idol.

Many Americans, I suspect, will not object as long as they continue to get their stream of free stuff from somewhere.

There will be consequences if these mandates are not lifted.

If you haven’t already purchased the Archdiocesan Directory for 2012, I would suggest you get one as a souvenir. On page L-3, there is a complete list of Catholic hospitals and health care institutions in Cook and Lake counties. Each entry represents much sacrifice on the part of medical personnel, administrators and religious sponsors. Each name signifies the love of Christ to people of all classes and races and religions. Two Lents from now, unless something changes, that page will be blank.

Catholic leaders bear some responsibility for chasing their own false god, “social justice,” when they should have been preaching the unvarnished Gospel. The “social justice” strains have empowered the likes of Obama, whose agenda goes far beyond what most saw coming. When he threatened to fundamentally transform the country, he meant it. Five years on, we have the IRS weaponized against dissent, and we have Obamacare kicking Christians out of public life and depriving them of the freedom to act on their faith, among other disturbing facets of the new America.

h/t Hot Air

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