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The Elephant In the Room In Albany: Democrats

People v. Democrats

Talking Points Memo tackles the task of figuring out why New York State is so corrupt… and entirely misses the point: the state is a wholly owned Democratic fiefdom, run out of its electoral stronghold in New York City and its environs to the detriment of the few honest people left Upstate.

How quickly the mighty fall: less than a week after longtime New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) was arrested on federal corruption charges, his fellow Democrats have decided to replace him.

Although the criminal complaint from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office hit at the very top of the legislature’s food chain, Silver was merely the latest in a long line of state lawmakers who have been whacked with federal corruption charges. Bharara’s office has convicted at least a dozen elected officials in recent years and is in the process of prosecuting even more.

Which all begs the question: Just how did New York state get so damn corrupt? TPM talked to some people who know New York politics to find out how the state got this way. Here are five points to know about the mess:

There follows five points — the folks at the top don’t want change; the only people who count are the “three men in the room,” governor, assembly speaker and senate president; “ethics laws” (stop laughing) are weak and “blurry”; the state lacks anti-corruption forces; and Albany’s “culture of insiders.” Well, where the hell do you think all those problems came from? Left unmentioned is the only that actually does matter, which is that Democrats — all together now: a criminal organization masquerading as a political party – have a death grip on the former Empire State and won’t let go until they succeed in killing the body politic.

No wonder people are fleeing the state.





Posted at 6:23 am on January 30th, 2015 by

Delaware Approves the Digital Driver’s License

Delaware might become the first state in the nation to provide driver’s licenses motorists can keep on their cell phones.

On Thursday, the Delaware House of Representatives passed a resolution “pushing” the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue digital driver’s licenses.

Delaware is not the only state to consider going digital. Iowa announced last year a plan to put licenses on phones.

The [Delaware] resolution cites that “the State of Iowa plans to experiment with digital driver’s licenses in 2015,” as one of its reasons for the move and underscores that “Delaware, with its smaller population, may be in a better position to adopt new digital driver’s license technology.”

MorphoTrust is the license provider for both states and has been working on the digital driver’s license concept for some time.

In an interview earlier this month, MorphoTrust vice president Jenny Openshaw said, “We anticipated this shift a of couple years ago, and are pleased that this process has reached a stage today where we are talking with many of the 42 states that we supply with physical licenses about piloting the concept. Of course, Iowa is the state that is furthest down that road.”

The company is considering certain safeguards and security for the licenses such as biometrics, fingerprints and facial recognition.

The technology would be considered optional in Delaware — motorists could still care a physical license with them if they chose to do so.

Posted at 5:43 am on January 30th, 2015 by

Man Ordered Pizza in the Middle of 4-Hour SWAT Stand-Off

A man wanted by law enforcement ordered a pizza in the middle of a four-hour SWAT team stand-off in Texas on Wednesday.

And it gets better.

Daniel Gurney ordered a first pizza Tuesday night, and the pizzeria manager recognized him as someone who had once used a bad credit card at the restaurant.  The manager called the police to report the alleged fraudster and provided his address to law enforcement. When the cops looked Gurney up, they found that he had four probation violation warrants for aggravated assault.

Below a pic of pizza enthusiast Gurney:


Officers headed over to Gurney’s address around midnight.

Police said that an officer arrived to arrest Gurney, who did not cooperate. He tried to escape through the back door, but he was met by police. He then retreated into the house, refusing to come out.

Given Gurney’s violent history, police called in a SWAT unit. Authorities said they used beanbag rounds, tear gas and flash-bang grenades before Gurney surrendered peacefully.

During the stand-off, another pizza delivery man showed up with a pizza in hand for Gurney.

The police told the pizza man to leave.


Posted at 4:32 am on January 30th, 2015 by

Non-Terrorist Taliban Claim Responsibility for Kabul Airport Terrorist Attack

The day after White House spokesman Eric Schultz confirmed that the Taliban are indeed not terrorists, three U.S. contractors were killed at Kabul Airport by an Afghan in a military uniform. The non-terrorist Taliban have claimed responsibility:


“The Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups,” Schultz said Wednesday while defending the Bowe Bergdahl swap for five Taliban commanders.

More information about the contractors hasn’t been released. A fourth American was wounded.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Thursday he couldn’t confirm or deny reports that one of the Taliban 5 swapped for Bergdahl has returned to a life of jihad.

“However, the overall problem of GITMO detainees returning to the battlefield constitutes a growing threat to the United States, our allies, our interests, and our citizens,” Nunes said. “If President Obama continues to release these dangerous terrorists, there will be a steep price to pay – very likely in lost American lives.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) called the report “troubling, but wholly predictable.”

“After the Obama administration released five top Taliban leaders, we were assured that these terrorists would be sidelined for at least a year. This lousy deal seems to have fallen apart,” Royce said. “Reportedly, at least one of them couldn’t wait even that long to start stirring up militant activity. The dangerous deal the White House cut has real consequences for the safety of Americans. Congress and the American people deserve a full explanation.”

Posted at 12:01 am on January 30th, 2015 by

Some Doctors Refusing to See Anti-Vaccine Patients


With California gripped by a measles outbreak, Dr. Charles Goodman posted a clear notice in his waiting room and on Facebook: His practice will no longer see children whose parents won’t get them vaccinated.

“Parents who choose not to give measles shots, they’re not just putting their kids at risk, but they’re also putting other kids at risk — especially kids in my waiting room,” the Los Angeles pediatrician said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by a small number of doctors who in recent years have “fired” patients who continue to believe debunked research linking vaccines to autism. They hope the strategy will lead parents to change their minds; if that fails, they hope it will at least reduce the risk to other children in the office.

There aren’t many doctors doing this, but it’s a good start. These loons who are making medical decisions for their children based on the opinions of some empty-headed celebrity hippies need to be marginalized and shamed, if shaming them is even possible. If someone wants to make decisions for their kids that will put other kids at risk, then keep them away from other kids.

The anti-vaxxers are reminiscent of the climate change cultists — they ferociously cling to speculation, debunked theories and junk science for reasons known only to the alien voices in their heads.

Posted at 9:57 pm on January 29th, 2015 by

Former Beltway Cabbie Added to Most Wanted Terrorists List

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 7.55.28 PM

The FBI added a former D.C.-area cab driver to its list of Most Wanted Terrorists today, offering up to $50,000 for information that leads them to naturalized U.S. citizen Liban Haji Mohamed.

The Somali-born Mohamed is accused of not just providing support to al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab, but recruiting while he lived and worked in the Beltway.

Authorities are also concerned about what reconnaissance he may have done in the nation’s capital before leaving with his U.S. passport on or about July 5, 2012.

“Liban Mohamed is believed to have left the U.S. with the intent to join al-Shabaab in East Africa. We believe he is currently there operating on behalf of that terrorist organization,” said Carl Ghattas, special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division at the FBI’s Washington Field Office, in a statement.

The FBI said the 29-year-old speaks English, Arabic and Somali.

“While living in Northern Virginia, Mohamed was a recruiter and radicalizer for al Shabaab, which historically has targeted Westerners to go to Somalia and fight for them,” Ghattas said. “Not only did Mohamed choose to go to Somalia and fight with al Shabaab, he took a prominent role in trying to recruit people and have them train with weapons.”

The FBI is publicizing the case in Somali-language outlets as well, including this Facebook page set up to reap tips.

According to public records, a Liban H. Mohamed within the suspect’s age range lived at a Housing and Urban Development affordable housing complex, Strawbridge Square, next to Interstate 395 in Alexandria.

HUD policy states that the agency will “deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project’s environment.”

Mohamed possesses a U.S. passport that expires in 2018.

The FBI said he was a “close associate” of Zachary Chesser, a 25-year-old Charlottesville, Va., native who converted to Islam and threatened the creators of South Park for depicting Muhammad.

In 2011, Chesser was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to Al-Shabaab and using the Internet to “incite violence.” He attempted twice to travel to Somalia, intending to join Al-Shabaab. Chesser worked for six months in 2009 at the Islamic Center of Northern Virginia in Fairfax; the head of the center told local media after Chesser’s arrest that the Quranic student left “because he realized we are trying to stay where the middle ground is.”

Ghattas said it’s important that they find Mohamed, the 31st addition to the Most Wanted Terrorists list, “because he has knowledge of the Washington, D.C. area’s infrastructure such as shopping areas, Metro, airports, and government buildings.”

“This makes him an asset to his terrorist associates who might plot attacks on U.S. soil.”

Just a couple of weeks after Mohamed left America in July 2012, Ugandan authorities said they had uncovered a plot being hatched by the “American terrorist,” Mohamed.

Officials there said the threat of Mohamed sneaking into the country was so worrisome that “people should only go to places with security controls in place.”

Mohamed is an older brother of a man using Council on American-Islamic Relations representation to challenge his placement on the no-fly list.

A judge ruled last week that Gulet Mohamed’s challenge, after he was initially blocked from returning from a trip to Yemen, Somalia and Kuwait in 2011, could proceed in court after the Justice Department sought to get the case dismissed.

The CAIR attorney, Gadeir Abbas, confirmed the family connection to the Associated Press and said the family believes the newest Most Wanted Terrorists addition is innocent and probably fled to avoid FBI harassment.

“Al-Shabaab has killed Liban’s uncle and imprisoned his cousins,” said Abbas. “His family believes the allegations have no basis in fact.”

There are seven siblings total in the Mohamed family, which came to the U.S. in 1995.

Posted at 6:12 pm on January 29th, 2015 by

Keystone Passes Senate, But Falls Short of Veto-Proof Threshold

The Senate today passed a bill to move forward with the Keystone XL pipeline, but fell five votes short of the veto-proof majority needed in the face of President Obama’s threat to use his pen.

After days of debate on the first Senate legislation of the new Congress, the bipartisan measure passed 62-36.

Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Mark Warner (Va.) joined Republicans in voting for the pipeline.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who was reportedly fundraising in Beverly Hills today, missed the vote. So did Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is still recovering from his workout accident.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who introduced the bill, cited a recent poll in which 22 percent said Obama said veto the pipeline.

“At the end of last year, 68 percent expressed support for the project; in 2013, 70 percent expressed support for it; and in 2012, 67 percent said the project should be built,” Hoeven said.

“This is about energy, jobs, economic activity, national security, and building the right kind of infrastructure we need to achieve all of these things. The will of the American people and Congress is clear. I encourage the president to sign this legislation and work with us not only to build this vital infrastructure project, but also to help us develop a true comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy plan for our nation.”

His lead co-sponsor, Manchin, said the extensive debate and dozens of amendments made the bill stronger.

“It is my hope that the bill will swiftly pass through the House and that the President will defer to multiple State Department studies which have all concluded the project will have no significant impact on our environment,” Manchin said. “With a majority of Americans in support of the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction, let’s move this project forward once and for all.”

“Once we send this jobs bill to his desk, I urge President Obama to drop his veto threat and stand with millions of hard-working taxpayers in support of finally building the Keystone XL pipeline,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), though, decried passage of the “totally crazy” bill.

“With the scientific community telling us loudly and clearly that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels if we are to combat climate change, it is totally crazy for the Congress to support the production and transportation of some of the dirtiest oil on the planet,” Sanders said.

Posted at 2:00 pm on January 29th, 2015 by

Shultz: No ‘Empty Threats’ If You Want People to Trust Foreign Policy

George P. Shultz, the 94-year-old former secretary of State who served under President Reagan, didn’t just put Code Pink in its place at today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

He also slapped around the administration’s Iran policy, reminding lawmakers that the “first point to remember is Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

“It started right away when they took people in our embassy hostage for close to a year. One of the first acts also was to try to blow up the Grand Mosque in Mecca. They act directly. They act indirectly through Hezbollah. I think it’s probably a fair statement to say that if it weren’t for Hezbollah, Assad would not be in Syria right now. But Hezbollah is an Iranian entity and we shouldn’t kid ourselves about they. And they perpetrate terror. So that’s point number one about what they’re like,” said Shultz, who claimed he was “out of practice” by not having appeared before Congress for 25 years.

“Point number two, they are direct, they are developing ballistic missiles. They’re pretty advanced in that, as far as I can figure out. That’s a menacing military item. Number three, internally, there’s a lot to be desired in the way they run themselves. There are lots of political executions in Iran and it continues. And fourth, they’re trying to develop nuclear weapons.”

He stressed that there’s “no sensible explanation for the extent, the money, the talent they’ve devoted” to their nuclear program “other than that they want a nuclear weapon.”

“We have granted the right to enrich. Already they’ve pocketed that. And we’re just talking about how much. I think it’s also the case of what if — if you said to yourself, what is their agenda. Their agenda is to get rid of the sanctions. And they’re doing pretty well,” Shultz continued. “The sanctions are eroding. The more you kick the can down the road, the more the sanctions erode. And they’re not so easy to put back. I hear people talk about snap-back. There’s very little snap-back. If you’ve ever tried to get sanctions imposed on somebody, you know how hard it is. You’re trying to persuade people who are making a perfectly good living out of trade with somebody to stop doing it and it isn’t easy.”

Schultz underscored that he’s “very uneasy about the way our negotiations with Iran are going on.”

He added it’s “a very threatening situation” because Iran gives “every indication … that they don’t want a nuclear weapon for deterrence, they want a nuclear weapon to use it on Israel.”

“Iran was the first state advocate of the Islamic jihad uprising that sweeps away national borders and bases foreign policy on the domination of the particular interpretation of religion,” former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 91, said at the same hearing. “Iranian foreign policy since the advent of the ayatollah regime has been a combination of the religious and imperial element and has asserted a dominant position towards neighboring states and toward states well-beyond it and, of course, with respect to the eradication of Israel.”

“…So when one speaks of political cooperation, the question is whether the political orientation of that regime has been altered. It cannot be judged alone by the nuclear agreement in which the removal of sanctions is a great Iranian interest.”

Shultz stressed that foreign policy can’t operate on “empty threats.”

“And you can translate that into when you say you’ll do something, do it. If you have that pattern of behavior, people trust you, they can deal with you. If you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, they can’t deal with you, they don’t trust you. So I think this has been a very important principle,” he said. “And then once you have all these things in place, negotiate, engage with people, don’t be afraid to engage with your adversaries, but do it on your agenda and from your strengths. So that’s the outline.”

Posted at 1:40 pm on January 29th, 2015 by

L.A. Times Headline: ‘Do Conservatives Die Sooner?’ L.A. Times Article: This Study Is Nonsense

Moments ago, Los Angeles Times reporter Amina Khan or her editor dropped the following click bomb in its Science Now section, presumably to appeal to their left-leaning readership of left-leaning social science aficionados, who stand ready to stamp the mantle of science on anything that furthers progressive policy prescriptions and little else:


Let’s deconstruct that accompanying photo, which, if it wasn’t staged, is just about the most perfect image ever discovered to match its article’s headline. A wooden cross, signifying that a Christian has died. A bizarrely shaped GOP logo, next to the wooden cross. And a faceless Republican — his shadow casting a pall on the logo — with terrible posture, indicating he has a case of the sads. Either this is the luckiest stock photographer in existence, or the L.A. Times actually sent out a photo crew with instructions to convey dead, sad Christian Republicans.

The article opens with:

If you’re dead serious about politics, consider this: A new paper finds that people with conservative ideologies were more likely to die in the study period than their liberal peers.

The findings, published by the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, offer a new view into the complex relationship between political identity and health.

Some studies have found that conservatives appear to be healthier than liberals; others have found that Republicans are less likely to report being in poor health than Democrats. But such papers typically didn’t look at both political party affiliation and political ideology, said lead author Roman Pabayo, a social epidemiologist who did the research while at Harvard and is now at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“Previous studies have only looked at one or the other,” Pabayo said. “I wanted to see if there was a relationship between those two.”

Why would a social scientist find such fascination in the study of death rates by political ideology? Add this new chapter to the blossoming field of “Conservative Anthropology” — recall What’s the Matter with Kansas? — wherein leftist sociologists ignore appeals to reason, logic, morals, and Natural Law as the driving force behind conservatism, hypothesizing that it must instead be a physical disorder.

Subsequently, and of course, the article pivots from its morbid fantasy headline to discuss the opinions of Pabayo’s colleague, who believes the study is poo:

But the results elicited some criticism from Subu V. Subramanian, a social epidemiologist at Harvard University who was not involved in the study.

“I have some skepticism around the paper, and one of [the issues] is, can they really tease out this distinction between ideology and affiliation?” Subramanian said.

He also said it would have been useful to have a three-by-three table mapping out the overlap between affiliation and ideology. For example, how many Democrats were actually conservative, how many Republicans were moderates, how many Independents were liberal, etc.

“The results are somewhat inconsistent … and also the mortality effect seems very small,” he added.

Subramanian also argued that self-reported health had been shown in the research to be linked to death rates.

“I would not just dismiss self-rated health as a ‘subjective measure.’ It happens to be one of the strongest measures of your mortality,” he said.

In any case, there’s definitely no causal link here, the researchers said — being liberal or conservative doesn’t directly affect health.

Of course. Be very sure that Amina Khan knew that her own article — and the researchers themselves – would render the headline exploitative and misleading.

But political affiliation and ideology could be markers for other underlying factors that might actually influence health, and it will take much more detailed data to figure out what those factors may be.

For example, Pabayo said, it would be useful to track whether people switch their party affiliation or ideology over time, and whether that’s linked to other changes, as well. And it would be useful to ask people more specific questions about their political beliefs, because on specific policy issues, people may not be as “liberal” or “conservative” as they think.

In other words — we can’t find anything, no one can find anything, but don’t let that “conservatism as pathology” hypothesis die, not ever, it’s just too darn helpful to the cause.

Posted at 1:36 pm on January 29th, 2015 by

‘They’re Like Locusts’

“… moving from planet to planet… their whole civilization. After they’ve consumed every natural resource they move on… and we’re next.”

You can say that again:

New York State and the Northeast region led the nation in domestic net “outmigration” in the period from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014, according to newly released data from the Census Bureau. During the same period, Texas and the South led the nation in domestic net “inmigration.” New York State led in outmigration as a net of 153,921 people moved from the state to elsewhere in the country. Texas led in inmigration as a net of 154,467 moved into the state from elsehwere in the country.

Illinois had the second highest domestic outmigration, with a net of 94,956 leaving the state for other parts of the country and Florida had the second highest domestic inmigration with 138,546 moving to the state from other parts of the country. The Northeast region (which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) saw a net domestic outmigration of 286,696 from July 1, 2013 to 2104.

The Midwest Region (which includes Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) also had a net domestic outmigration. From July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014 it saw a net movement of 182,057 people leave for other parts of the country.

The West (which includes Arizona, Colorada, Idaho, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington) had a net domestic inmigration of 103,464. That number was held down by California which had the fourth highest net domestic outmigration (32,090) of all states. New Mexico (14,154), Alaska (10,137), Hawaii (5,141) and Utah (1,235) all joined California as western states with a net domestic outmigration.

The key to conservative victory in presidential election years — when the genius of the Constitution kicks in and the contest becomes not the popular vote but the electoral vote (which is why the Left can’t wait to get rid of it) — lies in keeping the masses of Leftist votes confined to the big cities in the blue states, where they have largely congregated in order to take advantage of generous welfare benefits. As much as it pains the Left to learn this, the Constitution was not written with the spurious notion of “one man, one vote” in mind (that’s the House of Representatives, more or less, especially since this court decision). At the Senate and presidential levels, however, the states still rule.

So out-migration from failing blue states (where, with the exception of California, nobody wants to live any more, unless they’re very rich or very poor) is not a good thing, electorally speaking. For economic reasons, voters often flee the consequences of their own political philosophies — and yet they bring those same philosophies with them to their new low-tax, high-opportunity locations, starting the failure cycle all over again. Until, like the aliens in Independence Day, they have sucked the landscape dry and are forced to move on again.

The trick would be for conservatives to see this as an opportunity and retake the biggest electoral prize of them all: California. If conservatives could reflip the Golden State, the Democrats would never win another national election, ever.

Posted at 12:50 pm on January 29th, 2015 by

Godless Militants Go After Alabama Town

Winfield, Alabama, is a sleepy little town not far from Birmingham where about 5,000 people work, live, and worship – a city where the year’s biggest event is Mule Day every September.

Winfield has also become the site of a fight over religion. Because the greatest defense against theocracy is an attack on a tiny Southern town, militant atheists have targeted the town over a proclamation the mayor and city council issued back in December of last year “acknowledging the blessings of God and expressing a desire to seek Divine guidance.”

Over the next several weeks, the city received blistering letters of condemnation from the American Civil Liberties Union and Freedom From Religion Foundation decrying the alleged violation of separation of church and state. The FFRF letter was particularly harsh, suggesting that God was the mayor’s “imaginary friend” and that, if God did exist, he probably did not care about the small Alabama town.

The Pacific Justice Institute has come to the defense of Winfield, citing recent rulings that support the town’s proclamation and its decision to stand behind it.

In response, PJI sent a letter to Mayor Randy Price late Friday, pointing out the proclamation’s consistency both with recent cases and historic American traditions. The PJI letter noted the omission in either the ACLU or FFRF letters of failed attempts by those groups to mount similar legal challenges. Within the last few years the FFRF lost a legal challenge to President Obama’s continuation of the National Day of Prayer proclamation, and the ACLU lost a case where it had sued over Ohio’s state motto, “With God all things are possible.” Court decisions in this area have also allowed local proclamations and resolutions to voice anti-religious sentiments. For instance, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the right of San Francisco officials to issue scathing denunciations of religious groups and the Catholic Church, in the name of free speech.

PJI’s president, Brad Dacus, weighed in:

This proclamation does not compel or coerce anyone to do anything.  As with any governmental action, not everyone is going to like it, but that doesn’t make the proclamation unconstitutional.

Here’s hoping that, in the end, Winfield will prevail against the forces trying desperately to be the squeaky wheel against the First Amendment.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley

Posted at 11:56 am on January 29th, 2015 by

Definitely Not Politically Correct: Who Gets Murdered in L.A. and Where?

Exactly whom you think gets murdered and pretty much where you’d expect, in one of America’s most segregated cities:

Sunday and Monday were the deadliest days of the week in Los Angeles in 2014. April saw the most killings; January and February the least. More people were killed with a firearm than any other weapon. Those statistics and others compiled by the Los Angeles Police Department offer a deeply detailed look at the 260 homicides that occurred in Los Angeles last year. The report breaks down everything from which LAPD division saw the largest increase (77th Street in South L.A.) to where the killings occurred (streets were the most common location, followed by sidewalks).

No surprise there. The 77th Street station in South L.A. patrols some of the most violent, gang-infested neighborhoods in the sprawling city; at its epicenter is the intersection of Florence and Normandie, where the Rodney King riots began and where truck driver Reginald Denny was nearly beaten to death by a mob. Once a black neighborhood, it’s turned Latino over the past decade or so. And just who got murdered?

Nearly 86% of the people killed in Los Angeles last year were male. About one-third of victims were 26 to 35, and about a quarter were 18 to 25. Out of 260 victims, 119 were Latino and 112 were black.

Let’s put that another way: only 29 of the victims were either white (18), Asian (2) or “other” (9). Get the pertinent stats here.

Posted at 11:55 am on January 29th, 2015 by

GOP Senators to Obama: We’re Totally with You on Cuba Policy

While senators such as Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) have vehemently opposed the Obama administration’s rapprochement and concessions toward Cuba, some Republicans have banded together to let President Obama know that they have an eye on lifting the decades-old embargo.

Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — incidentally, the two Senate Republicans likely to vote against the Menendez-Kirk sanctions legislation on Iran — told Obama in a letter that they “have sought reforms to restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba and the removal of hurdles that hamstring trade.”

“Given the statutory nature of restrictions on activities related to Cuba, real and permanent change to U.S.-Cuba policy will be achieved through successful legislative initiatives,” they wrote.

Flake and Paul were joined on the letter by Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

“That said, recent regulatory reforms to financial restrictions on U.S. exports will increase access to some U.S. agricultural and other products for millions of people in Cuba,” the Republicans continued. “Increasing both the limit on remittance and the types of goods that can be legally exported to the island will lead to increased demand for U.S. commodities. Similarly, the expansion of general licenses for statutorily delineated categories of travel by U.S. citizens will have a similar impact while simultaneously facilitating greater meaningful contact between Americans and everyday Cubans. Our hope is that changes to the current trade and travel relationship will advance our goal of bolstering the vulnerable private sector and increasing entrepreneurship while decreasing the role of state-controlled enterprises.”

“With the significance of your recent announcements related to Cuba, we look forward to Congress turning its attention toward modernizing U.S.-Cuba policy to the benefit of U.S. citizens and the Cuban people alike. Congress must play an integral role in reforming our policy toward Cuba.”

Yesterday, Rubio was officially named chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere Subcommittee. He has vowed to block funding for the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana.

But even that could take some time — given an inch, Cuban President Raul Castro is now demanding a mile from the administration before relations are normalized, including the return of Guantanamo, financial compensation, and the lifting of the embargo by Congress.

“I plan to continue to be a voice for the oppressed, whether they be in our own hemisphere or on the other side of the globe,” Rubio said. “I look forward to working to ensure that U.S. programs aimed at advancing these freedoms are effective and achieving results that are consistent with our values as a nation.”

Posted at 11:46 am on January 29th, 2015 by

Lindsey Graham Keeps Threatening To Run For President

Your guess is as good as mine.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Thursday formed a political organization to explore a potential run for his party’s presidential nomination, the latest high-profile politician to test the 2016 waters.

Graham would attempt to use his South Carolina home base to his advantage for any potential run, since the Southern state is typically the third to hold a nominating contest in presidential election years, after Iowa and New Hampshire.

“What I’m looking at is, is there a pathway forward on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire for a guy like me? I don’t know until I look,” Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Someone is feeding the squish horrible information. The only Republican outside of South Carolina who likes Graham is John McCain, and he isn’t exactly flush with presidential campaign mojo. In fact, the greatest thing that could happen to the GOP would be those two taking a permanent vacation together.

Of all the long-shot potential Republican candidates, Graham makes the least sense. He’s loathed by the base and really doesn’t excite many centrists. Perhaps his inner circle at home feels this is his participation trophy moment. The sooner it passes the better for all of us.

Posted at 11:36 am on January 29th, 2015 by

House GOP February Agenda: Tax Breaks And Protection From Common Core

Pinch me.

House Republicans will vote on repealing Obamacare next week, but this time the legislation will include “instructions” for committees to craft an GOP alternative.

In a memo sent to Republicans on Thursday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) laid out the agenda for the entire month of February, which will also include making permanent tax breaks for charitable giving and preventing the White House from “coercing states to adopt Common Core standards.”

Admittedly, I had set my expectations for this Congress low, so it is pretty easy for them to make me happy now. I am pleasantly surprised thus far, even with the hiccups.

They are also going to vote on a bill that would prevent any future attempts to raid 529 accounts. Just because this president figured out in a hurry that was a bad idea doesn’t mean some “revenue” seeking progressive won’t go after them in the future.

The most interesting tidbit on the agenda appears at the end of this article:

Next week, the GOP will also vote on a bill that attempts to “hold agencies accountable for the true cost of federal mandates” by imposing “stricter requirements for how and when federal agencies must disclose the cost of federal mandates and equips both Congress and the public with tools to determine the true costs of regulations.”

Putting the bureaucracy in charge of revealing how much bureaucracy costs may not be the most perfect solution, but this is a start. Nearly every (I’m being generous here) federal program and mandate is presented to the public with extremely low cost projections (see: Medicare) to make the sale go smoothly. It’s not unlike being told a new car is going to cost $10,000 and finding out that number was adjusted to $45,000 as soon as you signed the contract.

Any move towards increased transparency has got to help.

Posted at 11:04 am on January 29th, 2015 by

White House Scraps Constitution, George Washington’s Rules in Netanyahu Rift

To the White House’s chagrin, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is proving to be more fox than hen, despite his avian nickname.

Months after an anonymous White House administration official bestowed the moniker “chickens**t” to the leader of the U.S.’s closest Middle Eastern ally, Netanyahu is planning a March visit to the United States that will bypass the White House entirely.

Aghast at such effrontery (the PM’s circumvention of the executive, not the excremental name-calling, which is peachy), White House officials have once again jettisoned not only their pocket companions to the Constitutionbut their bookstore-issue Rules of​  Civility and Decent Behaviour, famously transcribed by young George Washington as a homework lesson.

Before further venting their frustration through unnamed leaks and Press Secretary Josh Earnest, White House officials would do well to consider Rule No. 39:

“In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.”

Paraphrased for White House: If you don’t have anything nice to say about the man staving off a nuclear Holocaust, it’s still in poor taste to slur him … and leak it.

Good advice for young George—and us. And it gets better. Like constitutional clauses, the Rules of Civility inform each other, allowing readers to test for violations as they discover other gems. The above, for instance, is buttressed by No. 48:

“Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.”

Paraphrase for White House: Don’t be a hypocrite; practice what you preach (especially when accusing Netanyahu–er, Chickens**t–of poor diplomacy).

White House officials may be rude–but are they wrong? Actually, Press Secretary Josh Earnest rightly describes Netanyahu’s actions as a “departure from protocol.” Typically, he says, “the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he is traveling there.”

It also is typical, however, for the Obama administration to forget that in the United States, although the president is the ranking individual, the executive branch is co-equal to the other branches in law and in leadership. That means that Netanyahu did indeed contact the country’s leader–not a mere man, but Congress itself–when accepting the invitation of Speaker Boehner.

Pretending for a moment that size does matter, President Obama trumps Speaker Boehner. Period. It would be asymmetrical for Netanyahu to meet unilaterally with the speaker or other members of Congress.

But Netanyahu isn’t meeting with the speaker (except incidentally).

He is addressing both houses of Congress in a joint session. That’s 535 legislators, to be precise, whose “Laws … shall be the supreme Law of the Land,” when passed “in Pursuance” of the Constitution (Article VI).

Size matters here, too.

It cannot be said that the executive branch trumps the Legislative. True, President Obama is fortunate to occupy a position virtually synonymous with his branch, and should be accorded due honors. True, he is the country’s chief diplomat in foreign relations. But as the incarnation of a co-equal branch, he is no more the gatekeeper for Congress’s decisions and guests than Congress is for his. And if the president’s brazen expansion of executive power during his terms says anything, it is that Congress is not his gatekeeper.

For once, Congress has learned that turnabout is fair play.

So before his staff resumes berating Congress or besmirching Israel’s prime minister, the president would do well to float Rule No. 41 in a memo:

“Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himself Professes. It Savours of arrogance.”

Posted at 10:04 am on January 29th, 2015 by

Ready For Mitt 3.0? Me Neither

Don't go away mad, just go away

Don’t go away mad, just go away

Why won’t this consistent loser just go away? He lost a Senate race to Ted Kennedy. He lost the GOP nomination in 2008 to the awful John McCain. Four years later, he lost the presidential race to the even worse Barack Hussein Obama. He couldn’t fight Obama on Barrycare since he himself was the architect of Romneycare during his one term as governor of Massachusetts (he chose not to run for re-election because he knew he was going to lose). And now he’s back, maybe, to almost nobody’s acclaim:

Mitt Romney’s nascent 2016 presidential campaign has a bit of a problem: It’s broadcasting what its 2016 campaign and candidate will look like, but political reporters and analysts are dubious.  To recap: Romney’s team has said that he will cast himself as an ally of the poor and middle class rather than the wealthy, as a foreign policy candidate, and as someone who is “authentic.”

All three of these things, in case you deliberately wiped the 2012 campaign from your memory, were among Romney’s big hindrances in that race. There was the “47 percent” comment about poor people not paying taxes, his stumbles while overseas, and his inescapable image as a buttoned-down plutocrat who didn’t connect to average people.

Accordingly, reporters have written about all of this as a “rebranding” effort. Only a top 2012 Romney aide, deputy campaign manager Katie Packer Gage, says that’s not fair…

The definition of “rebrand,” according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, is “to change the corporate image of a company.” Now, Mitt Romney is not a corporation — though Romney himself might actually disagree on that count — but what he’s doing is unquestionably rebranding.

“Rebranding” suggests more than a change in advertising strategy, but rather a wholesale re-casting of the image of the corporation/person involved. According to just about everything written about Romney 2016′s message, that is precisely what his team is trying to do. They are trying to turn the guy who scoffed at poor people not paying taxes into an ally of the poor. They are trying to turn the guy who offended London on the eve of the Olympic Games into the foreign-policy guy. They are trying to turn Mitt Romney into someone who isn’t quite so, well, Mitt Romney.

Willard, however, will always be Willard. The GOP needs to forget its dinosaur also-rans (Romney, Santorum, Huckabee) and just accept the fact that its next presidential nominee is going to be either Scott Walker or Ted Cruz and that’s the end of it. Act accordingly, Stupid Party.

Posted at 9:52 am on January 29th, 2015 by

Congressional Iraq War Vet: Trade by Jordan Would Hand ISIS ‘Moral Victory’

An Air Force veteran in Congress who served in Iraq said Jordan should not trade a would-be suicide bomber for a pilot’s freedom as it hands ISIS a “moral victory.”

Jordan has been weighing a deal for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi awaiting the death penalty for her role in the grisly 2005 bombing of a wedding reception at the Radisson in Amman. Her husband killed himself, but her suicide belt failed to properly detonate and she was captured.

ISIS had requested al-Rishawi be freed in exchange for Japanese war reporter Kenji Goto. Jordan wants any such deal tied to the release of air force pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh as well, but they haven’t received any proof of life that the pilot is OK.

The latest deadline set by ISIS, which has passed, was sunset today.

“Look, you have to have sympathy for the Jordanian people. They watched for a month their pilot on television paraded around, this hero,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said on Fox. “So you understand that. This sets a very bad precedent.”

“Look at the fact that, why does ISIS want this to happen in the first place? Do they really want this so-called ‘lady al-Qaeda’ out? Maybe. But at the end of the day, they wanted a victory. That will be a huge victory for them if they are able to get Jordan to, in essence, show up on their knees, release a prisoner who as been convicted through a legal court system to get their pilot back. It’s as much as a moral victory for ISIS than anything.”

U.S. Special Forces reportedly attempted, unsuccessfully, to rescue al-Kasaesbeh earlier this month.

On Christmas Eve, ISIS released the ID card of Kasasbeh and paraded parts of his downed plane, as well as images of the pilot in a soaked T-shirt and stripped from the waist down with blood coming from his mouth. ISIS’ magazine ran an “interview” with the pilot and referred to him throughout as “murtadd” — apostate.

“This is going to it be a multiyear process, especially with the president saying we will never use ground troops in this case. You will see these hostage situations and these desires for swaps and these #100 or $200 million ransom, and more beheadings. We will see this forever. This is their M.O. and they want this as a moral victory,” Kinzinger said.

“Think about the moral victory, unfortunately, maybe if this pilot has already been murdered. We hope he hasn’t been. And then Jordan offers to make a swap and find out he was murdered anyway. Again, the thing ISIS is seeking here is a major moral victory. A moral victory to them will help them recruit. They will have brought down this infidel regime in Jordan. It’s a very dangerous situation. It’s going to lead to further kidnappings and further danger. That’s why we don’t negotiate with terrorists. We can’t do it.”

There’s been extra political pressure on King Abdullah to swap for the pilot’s life because the young man comes from a powerful tribe that’s critical to support for the monarchy.

Posted at 9:45 am on January 29th, 2015 by

Think Scandinavia Is Paradise? Think Again

That’s expat Michael Booth’s considered opinion in a Washington Post essay today:

I live in Denmark, and although it appears to have been surpassed as the happiest country in the world by Panama, Costa Rica or Fiji (depending on which list you believe), it is still a pretty great country, especially in which to raise kids. But Scandinavia is not the utopia that American liberals or the 11 million Americans of Nordic descent often make it out to be, just as it is not the quasi-commie, statist gulag that those on the right would often have us believe. And global and domestic events are conspiring to make life a little more uncertain for these former high achievers. I am not just talking first-world problems, although those are definitely a Scandi specialty — at a recent dinner party, I heard one woman complain that her son’s preferred university did not offer the surfing degree he wanted. Rather, the Scandinavian model’s structural fissures are coming under increasing stress.

Booth goes on to list some of those fissures, including declining oil revenues in Norway and the chiseling that eventually creeps into the social-welfare system. But then he goes and blows his whole argument apart by worrying about mosque firebombings and the rise of a “neo-Nazi” right wing:

The Sweden Democrats party, which has its roots in the neo-Nazi movement, won 13 percent of the vote in September’s general election. Some credit its rise to Sweden’s “open door” immigration policy; others point to the poor integration of those immigrants and their resulting overrepresentation in crime and unemployment figures. Either way, the party’s electoral success prompted hasty political horse trading among other parties intent on keeping extremists as far from the levers of power as possible, which in turn prompted allegations that Sweden’s political establishment was subverting the democratic process. This has distracted from the slowing economy, increasing state and household debt levels, and one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Europe.

There’s barely a nod to the rising levels of Muslim crime in Scandinavia, where the invaders look at the Nordic women as both whores and targets of opportunity, although Booth does mention the stupefying levels of alcoholism in a country like Finland (not, strictly speaking, Nordic, although it does have a sizable Swedish minority). And then, of course, there are the taxes:

But here are just two Scandi-paradoxes that might make you hesitate before signing on a nice penthouse in Turku: These countries that do so well in life-satisfaction surveys also record the highest consumption of antidepressants in the world, and despite their reputation for gender equality, they have the highest rates of violence against women in Europe.

I suspect that few Americans would truly embrace a Scandinavian-style society. The tax rates alone would likely be a sufficient deterrent. Though I’m a freelance journalist, I essentially work until Thursday lunchtime for the state. And it’s not as if the money that is left in my pocket goes all that far: These are fearfully expensive countries in which to live.

Even if you are willing to accept such downsides, there is no exportable model for turning a country Scandinavian. These lands have evolved into the flawed, fascinating paragons of civilization that they are today over many centuries, through a combination of unique historical events, religion, geography and climate — to which some might add DNA. There is no secret to replicate their success.

“Some might add DNA”? Where does Booth think Scandinavian culture comes from? Immigrants from North Africa? The more immigration from Arab countries, the less Scandinavian the Scandinavian countries will become. And once they’re gone, there’s no getting them back.

Posted at 9:06 am on January 29th, 2015 by

Strong Bipartisan Support for Iran Sanctions Bill as it Passes Committee 18-4

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The Menendez-Kirk Iran sanctions bill passed its first test today with flying colors, receiving an 18-4 vote to move it out of the Senate Banking Committee.

The “no” votes came from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Democrats who voted in favor of the bill were Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

Included in the final bill was an amendment from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) expressing the sense of the Congress that it should vote on any final agreement about Iran’s nuclear program.

“Congress votes on treaties and trade agreements, including agreements that allow for the exchange of peaceful nuclear technology and material between the United States and other countries, such as Japan and India,” said Toomey.

“A final deal with Iran about its nuclear program is certainly no less important, and it deserves a public debate in Congress along with a vote.  Our national security interest in preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons will extend far beyond the 18 months that will remain in this administration’s term by the time a deal may be reached,” he added. “Congressional approval would make a pact more durable, and the importance of such an agreement with Iran should have the national commitment that comes from a bipartisan consensus in Congress.”

In addition to Kirk and Menendez, original co-sponsors of the bill are Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Schumer, and Donnelly.

It would implement new sanctions on the Islamic Republic after the June 30 negotiations deadline if a deal is not reached.

The administration would be required to submit any agreement to Congress within five days. Congress would then have 30 days to review the pact before the president can give Iran any sanctions relief agreed to at the P5+1. There also would need to be certification that a sanctions waiver is in the national security interest of the U.S.

If Congress acts before the deadline, reimposition of sanctions could happen as early as August, specifically targeting the petroleum and financial sectors as well as regime officials.

Senate Dems co-sponsoring the bill want a vote after the March 24 framework deadline. That would put the congressional action after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress, and after the giant AIPAC conference in D.C. at which Bibi will also speak.

Posted at 8:44 am on January 29th, 2015 by

VIDEO: Mother & Child Burn to Death in Inglewood Apartment Fire This Morning

KTLA.Com reports:

Two people – believed a young mother and her child – died early Thursday morning and three others were injured when a fire ripped through a 17-unit apartment in Inglewood, officials and residents said.

Firefighters responded to reports of a fire in the 600 block of Queens Street (map) around 2:30 a.m. L.A. County Fire Inspector Randall Wright said.

About 55 firefighters worked nearly an hour to knock down the two-alarm blaze, and fire officials remained on the scene as of 5 a.m.

Two females died, according to the coroner’s office, which did not provide age estimates.

Neighbors said they believed the two dead were a mother under the age of 30 and her daughter, thought to be 3 years old or younger.

This is startling news to wake up to — not only is the apartment nearby but it’s on the same street as one that we applied for last summer when making our move from the San Fernando Valley.

One of the big stresses in making the move was that we didn’t get the first apartment that we wanted. My wife went to a lot of effort to send our application next-day, only to be sabotaged when the clerk put in the address wrong, delaying it by an extra day, causing the apartment to go to someone else. (There are plenty of apartments in Inglewood, where my wife had decided to locate her art studio after graduating with her MFA in May, but the number of them that would accept our 70-pound Siberian Husky Maura was much smaller.)

A #cute #closeup #video of Maura #siberianhusky snuggling before bedtime.

A video posted by David Swindle (@daveswindlepjm) on

Digging through my email I’ve been trying to find the exact address of the apartment on Queens Street we lost out on — if memory serves, it isn’t the same one that saw tragedy this morning, it’s just a few blocks further east — but it might as well have been. I’m treating it in my mind as though it was.

It’s my 31st birthday today and perhaps I’ll make this the lesson of the day to try to remember for the year: that the unknown variable — randomness, fate, chance, divine intervention, what Machiavelli labeled “fortune,” however you want to label it — can’t be forgotten or dismissed.

So here’s a big leap of a thought, but somewhat along these lines: I’m starting to think from my study of history that there’s a strong probability I wouldn’t exist and really, my whole family wouldn’t exist, if FDR hadn’t died during World War II and been replaced by Harry Truman who ended the war by dropping the atom bomb. (The state of Israel might not exist either, would it? If FDR had been the president instead of Truman, would he have supported the Jewish state?)

Truman had the moral clarity to use the bomb. It’s an open question if FDR would have done the same had he lived — I have little reason to think he would have. The war more likely would have dragged on and my grandfather, a pilot in the Pacific, would have more likely been killed in an invasion of Japan, and then never to return so my father could be born.

How much of history has turned on the errors of file clerks and on the decisions of individual men? How many lives just go up in smoke seemingly out of chance for no reason, while others because men in positions of power choose — or don’t choose — to take vital action?

The #siberianhusky starts the day with confidence, as always. #sunrise shot from our walk earlier today.

A photo posted by David Swindle (@daveswindlepjm) on

Posted at 8:01 am on January 29th, 2015 by

Code Pink Tries to Arrest 91-Year-Old Kissinger for ‘War Crimes,’ Get Smacked Down by 94-Year-Old George Shultz

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A Senate hearing opened this morning with Code Pink protesters trying to arrest former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for “war crimes.”

The protesters, bearing signs reading “Kissinger War Criminal” and “Cambodia,” rushed up behind the 91-year-old diplomat at the witness table of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which was holding a hearing on global challenges and the U.S. national security strategy.

Also testifying were 94-year-old former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and 77-year-old former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he would call recess until Capitol Police removed Code Pink from the room.

“I’ve been a member of this committee for many years, and I have never seen anything as disgraceful and outrageous and despicable as the last demonstration that just took place,” McCain said, which led to shout-backs from the protesters.

“You know, you’re going to have to shut up, or I’m going to have you arrested. If we can’t get the Capital Hill Police in here immediately… Get out of here, you low-life scum,” McCain added.

“So Henry, I hope you will — Dr. Kissinger, I hope on behalf of all of the members of this committee on both sides of the aisle — in fact, from all of my colleagues, I’d like to apologize for allowing such disgraceful behavior towards a man who served his country with the greatest distinction. I apologize profusely.”

Later, when Kissinger began his opening statement, more protesters popped up in the room, screaming about Vietnam and rattling off his “war crimes.”

“Vietnam! From 1969 to 1973, Kissinger, working for Richard Nixon, oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, that led to the deaths of millions — millions of people. Many thousands more died from the effects of massive doses of agent orange and from unexploded bombs that covered the countryside!” a protester shouted. “Chile! Henry Kissinger was one of the principle architects of the coup in Chile on September 11th, 1973…”

Shultz then stood up to verbally battle the protesters, saying, “I salute Henry Kissinger for his many contributions to peace and security.” That led to a standing ovation from the committee members and audience that drowned out Code Pink.

MORE: Shultz “very uneasy about the way our negotiations with Iran are going on”

Posted at 7:15 am on January 29th, 2015 by

DEA Has Abandoned Plans to Track Cars at Gun Shows

The head of the Drug Enforcement Agency announced yesterday that the agency had abandoned plans to use surveillance cameras to photograph license plates appearing  in the vicinity of gun shows.

DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart said in a statement that the proposal memorialized in an employee’s email was only a suggestion, never authorized by her agency and never put into action. The AP also learned that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not authorize or approve the license plate surveillance plan.

Are these the kinds of ideas we are paying tax dollars for? I’m glad this wasn’t “approved,” but someone obviously thought it was “on the table” for consideration.

Automated license plate scanners take pictures of every vehicle that passes their field of view and record the information in a database that can be used to track a vehicle’s movements over time.

Why would the government even think it should “keep track” of law-abiding citizens participating in a purely legal social activity?

Cameras are everywhere now, on police cruisers, utility polls, traffic lights and mounted in front of private businesses. Does the government have the right to catalog and monitor innocent comings and goings? The AP writes, “The scanners have raised significant privacy concerns even though they generally only record cars and trucks driving on public roads. There are no consistent, national rules that govern how police can use the information, how long it can be saved and how widely the records can be shared with other police agencies.

And therein lies the problem. We have a government full of bureaucrats who see no problem throwing ideas around like “let’s catalog and monitor people who attend gun shows,” which is a sly run-around to the national gun registry the leftists and gun grabbers are always agitating to create. Coupled with very suspicious and punitive behavior by the IRS to target “tea party types,” the last thing we should allow is the government to amass information on an “undesirable” class of citizens.





Posted at 6:59 am on January 29th, 2015 by

Sheriffs’ Assoc. Doubles Down on Campaign Against Waze Cop-Tracker

On Monday, I wrote about the Sheriffs’ Association lobbying Google to remove a feature on its popular GPS app Waze that allows users to report when they see police officers seeking motorists to ticket for driving infractions. Initially, the sheriffs claimed that allowing citizens to locate police officers on taxpayer-funded highways and streets enables people to stalk and possibly ambush law enforcement officers.

The Waze app is a combination GPS/social network that allows users to report information subsequently shared with other app users. Not only can users report the location of a police car or highway patrol but they can report broken-down automobiles on the side of the road and red-light cameras.

Now, the sheriffs have “broadened the criteria” on which their objections to the app are based.

Just as I suspected, the new complaint against Waze is based on hampering the use of speed traps or, as I prefer to call them, “fundraisers.” The sheriffs are now claiming that radar guns and speed-enforcement techniques have reduced highway fatalities and accidents. And, consequently, warning drivers about speed traps would result in situations that endanger the automobiling public.

“This app will hamper those activities by locating law enforcement officers and puts the public at risk,” the group said.

Nonsense. If drivers slow down because they know there is a patrol car in the area, isn’t that the point? 

“Most users tend to drive more carefully when they believe law enforcement is nearby,” Waze spokeswoman Julie Mossler said.

Unless the point isn’t to stop reckless driving or speeding but rather to issue speeding tickets to generate revenue.

We currently live in a society where the Department of Justice, the mother-ship of law enforcement, is cataloging and stalking the movement of all cars, and yet the sheriffs have the nerve to suggest that the public doesn’t have the right to know the same information about them.  And it’s not just the right to know, it’s the right to speak freely about what we know.

Publicly broadcasting information falls under the First Amendment. “Waze represents person-to person information in the public square,” said Nuala O’Connor, head of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington civil liberties group. “And that’s long been a U.S. right under the Constitution.”

It’s time to take a few steps back and consider what path we are going down when law enforcement thinks it’s entitled to restrict the fundamental law of free speech in the service of entrapping citizens for minor traffic violations.

Posted at 4:17 am on January 29th, 2015 by

Annals of Dhimmitude, Cont’d

Read this and weep:

First, we asked them what preconceived notions they have about women who wear hijab. Then we brought in Edina Lekovic, a Muslim woman who has worn hijab for two decades, to help give the women one perspective on a complex topic.

You see where we’re going with this, don’t you?

For the most part, they were surprised by how little attention the hijabs received.

This being Buzzfeed, the story is told through video and animated gifs. Be sure to zip through it to see what these modern feminists have to say about the hijab, using the language of cultural relativism and female “empowerment” to guide them into the dark ages. And then join my crusade to repeal the 19th Amendment, for they’re clearly too stupid to vote responsibly. Maybe these sorority sisters are right.

Somewhere in hell, Osama bin Laden is taking another victory lap.


Posted at 4:05 am on January 29th, 2015 by