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1Apr/15Off

Deadly Decades: Roe at 42

In January of 1973, the Supreme Court decided that women have the right to an abortion, and the legality of such a procedure was granted. To “celebrate” this decision’s 42nd birthday, NARAL Pro-Choice America recognized it with an event called “Realizing the Promise: Roe at 42″ on Monday, March 30. Throughout the day, the hashtag #RoeAt42 appeared, as women celebrated, congratulated, encouraged, honored and cheered each other on in regards to abortion. This type of behavior towards a life-ending procedure that is deemed a choice isn’t a a new thing, unfortunately. Forty-two years since the decision, what are some of the effects of reducing life down to an easily rectified mistake? Here are some.

Incomprehensible Loss
According to the National Right to Life, more than 57,000,000 abortions have taken place since Roe v. Wade was decided. Millions upon millions have been victimized at the hand of Almighty Abortion, simply because they dared to exist at an inconvenient time. Abortion supporters are quick to declare the pregnancies are “unwanted” or “unplanned”, but no deference is given to the unborn, those whose vote regarding existence is never considered. When looking at that absolutely staggering figure, it is difficult to digest that this genocide has occurred within our towns and cities. It is an uncomfortable reality in a proudly pro-freedom society determined not to discriminate, yet one which guiltlessly selects others for the worst kind of discrimination of all. It’s a horror that is unfathomable.

Normalization

With spa-like abortion clinics attempting to inject comfort into environments of harm, and women filming their abortion procedures to destigmatize the life-ending choice, normalizing abortion is in overdrive. As this feminist author believes:

“We need to talk about ending a pregnancy as a common, even normal, event in the reproductive lives of women,” Pollitt writes, adding that the decision to abort can be “just as moral as the decision to have a child — indeed, sometimes more moral” because “part of caring for children is knowing when it’s not a good idea to bring them into the world.”

Those in the pro-abortion industry are attempting to pass abortion off as a normal, acceptable part of a woman’s life by forcibly stripping away factual language surrounding the subject, easing it into regular dialogue, and treating the entire procedure as just another item on the afternoon “To Do List”. If this continues, an entirely new generation, at least the wanted ones, will only know of abortion as acceptable, with stories detailing facing opponents in years past barely registering concern in their mind. We cannot allow this attempt at normalcy to be achieved.

Equalization

Among the many obsessions in current society is finding a new civil rights crusade to join in with. Freedoms are abundant and oppression in the U.S. mostly nonexistent, but there is a thirst for relevancy. This is apparent in many areas, but especially with the supposed War on Women, feminism’s crusade of the restless 2010s. Reproductive rights, (abortion in this sense), are becoming synonymous with human rights and civil rights, and questioning the very access to abortion is seen as discrimination. The need for “equality” is on the side of the woman, but should be on the side of the developing life.

It astounds me that we can honestly wonder how life is given so little significance outside the womb when we continue to assign almost no significance to life at its inception. And we wonder why ISIS unflinchingly butchers and maims the innocent? We wonder how a pilot can kill himself and 149 others on purpose? It all begins at the beginning. That is where significance must be rooted and established, or else we will continue our sharp decline.

On March 18, a woman violently attacked and removed – cut out – a developing baby from her mother’s womb. The mother lived, but the baby, a girl, unfortunately died. Reaction to the horrific incident grew as it was reported that the attacker would not face a charge of murder. What once was a thriving unborn life, protected during growth, became an autopsied victim whose existence was not even formally recognized.

We are stunned at a society which produces these behaviors towards life? We shouldn’t be. A great deal of it can be connected back to Roe. This is the legacy of that decision. This is her at 42.

 

The post Deadly Decades: Roe at 42 appeared first on RedState.

1Apr/15Off

Right Wingers Are Shrieking About New Daily Show Host Trevor Noah Because of Course

It's getting harder and harder to check in on right-wing "news" sites, just to see what the topics of conversation are. I've long felt that one of the biggest threats to our democracy is that educated people insulate themselves in an echo chamber where they only hear thoughts and opinions ...

1Apr/15Off

This Anti-Gay Pizza Place Got Trashed on Yelp. Why Isn’t That Enough?

PizzaMemories Pizza is a small pizza joint in Walkerton, Indiana. Its owners, the O'Connor family, are devout Christians. Their religious identity is so fundamental to the business they run that it requires them to decline commercial engagement with practices that violate their deeply-held beliefs. And so, when asked by local reporters whether they would cater a gay wedding, owner Kevin O'Connor's answer was no:

“That lifestyle is something they choose. I choose to be heterosexual. They choose to be homosexual. Why should I be beat over the head to go along with something they choose?” says Kevin O'Connor.

The O'Connor family told ABC 57 news that if a gay couple or a couple belonging to another religion came in to the restaurant to eat, they would never deny them service.

The O'Connors say they just don't agree with gay marriages and wouldn't cater them if asked to.

The O'Connors' views are wrong in just about every way possible. First, being gay isn't a choice—or at least, it isn't primarily a choice—as O'Connor would no doubt be forced to admit if anyone challenge him on his statement. "I choose to be heterosexual," sounds like a choice only a non-heterosexual would be in the position to make.

Second, to the extent their religious views require them not to serve gay weddings, I would call those views unkind. Not violent, not anathema to civilization, but certainly unkind. I would question the wisdom of any teaching that required me to treat peaceful people in a deliberately un-neighborly way.

Third, I'm not particularly convinced that the teachings of Christ even require Christians to refuse to serve gay weddings. Didn't Jesus engage prostitutes and tax collectors—the sinful people of his time?

In any case, vast numbers of people are currently communicating to the O'Connor family that its policy is morally wrong. And they are doing so in a much less civil manner than I: the Yelp page for Memories Pizza now contains hundreds of negative reviews from supporters of gay equality. A typical review, from Sara H. of Leechburg, Pennsylvania, who has probably never eaten there:

Prejudice Pie- Topped with closemindedness and baked for 20 minutes until hot and greasy by professional assholes 

Bigotry Breadsticks- Golden brown breadsticks oozing with false belief that one has the right to judge others in place of God. Add cheese for just 50 cents more.

Want something cold to wash that down with? Have a nice tall glass of hatred. Sorry, we don't serve pride here because we'd never swallow THAT.

Reviewers also posted a lot of semi-pornographic and explicitly pornographic pictures. (You can find a collection of them here. NSFW!)

People certainly have the right to post those reviews (and Yelp has the right to remove them, leave them be, or do anything else with them). In fact, supporters of gay equality can do anything they want (short of violence) to combat the views of the O'Connors.

Because I want to engage—and perhaps alter—people's anti-gay views, I would question whether hurling gross insults at the misinformed is a good way to change their minds. Those who care more about dancing on the graves of their enemies will reach a different conclusion, I'm sure.

Regardless, here we have a clear case of a business expressing a reprehensible view and being swiftly, severely punished for it. Why then is it necessary to also compel this business to engage in commercial activity it opposes? Is it really not enough for thousands of people to verbally attack the business, ruin its reputation, and flood its Yelp page with dirty pictures? Is it absolutely vital that the government also become involved?

Some will say yes. Some will say that discrimination is a great evil that must be stomped out at all costs, even via the blunt fore of government. Some will raise the issue of historical discrimination against blacks and point out that it was necessary to involve the state to wipe away that stain. (Even though quite a lot of that discrimination was actually explicit government-enforced discrimination against blacks, just as quite a lot of the discrimination against gays is actually explicit government-enforced discrimination vis a vis marriage laws.) When the bigots have so much power, when discrimination is so entrenched, the government has to do something, they will say.

Fine.

You tell me: Who has the power here? Is it Memories Pizza? Or is it the thousands of people flooding the joint's Yelp page with hatred; the hundreds of celebrities, athletes, and businessmen denouncing the discriminators publicly; the dozens of corporations—including mega-corporations like Walmart—denouncing RFRAs and threatening vast economic boycotts against states that implement them (and in doing so, exercising First Amendment rights most liberals were terrified to extend to corporations); and the many government actors, both local and statewide, prepared to punish Memories Pizza and similar shops?

Government's most vital function is to protect the rights of minorities—even unpopular minorities. This was true, and is still true, for gays who live in states where marriage equality does not exist. It's why, as Conor Friedersdorf argues in a terrific piece for The Atlantic, supporters of gay rights are picking the wrong targets when they go after RFRA states:

Now that public opinion has thankfully shifted, marriage traditionalists have thankfully been routed, gay marriage in all 50 states is thankfully inevitability, and its opponents are a waning minority incapable of imposing any cost on political opponents, elites who support gay marriage are suddenly very self-righteous and assertive. Now that those who would discriminate against gays are a powerless cultural minority that focuses its objectionable behavior in a tiny niche of the economy, elites have suddenly decided that using state power to punish them is a moral imperative. The timing suggests that this has as much to do with opportunism, tribalism, humanity's love of bandwagons, and political positioning as it does with advancing gay rights, which have advanced thanks to persuasion, not coercion.

Going forward, non-bigoted Americans are inevitably going to reach different conclusions regarding the tensions among non-discrimination law, freedom of association, freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience–thorny issues all (unless one just ignores the fact that there are multiple core rights at stake). So long as gay equality is the goal, a better focus for fury than religious liberty exceptions are unjust marriage laws in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Tennessee.

There's still a lot of work to be done before gay Americans will enjoy full legal equality. Inviting the state to tread on gay bakers is a pernicious distraction that betrays the principles of a free society for no purpose other than spiking some cultural football.

1Apr/15Off

Wow. A Change.org petition (on Wall Street returning $300 million to Denver schools) worth signing.

No, really.  I have signed this petition from the Denver County Teachers Association, and so should you.

Wall Street banks have taken more than $300 MILLION from Denver Public Schools. This is money that should have reduced class sizes, prevented program cuts, and provided the best possible education for our kids.

Denver Public Schools entered into three toxic interest rate swaps in 2008 with JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Royal Bank of Canada. From 2008-2011, our schools lost $105 MILLION to these banks. From 2011-2013, we lost another $38 MILLION.

…and why should you sign this petition? Well, guess whose fault it was that this happened?  Hint: he’s running for re-election in 2016.  Take it away, Colorado Peak Politics:

[Michael] Bennet was superintendent of Denver Public Schools from July 2005 through January 2009, when he was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by then-Sen. Ken Salazar.  In the spring of 2008, DPS needed to raise funds to plow back into classrooms (or so the story goes).  Bennet and now-superintendent Tom Boasberg struck a deal with JP Morgan to create some kind of “exotic” funding mechanism. Literally weeks before the entire market bombed.

Colorado Peak Politics went on to note that Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Michael Bennet2%Senate Democrat Average29See Full Scorecard2% pretty much sold the school board on the idea. Now, don’t get me wrong: I understand the argument that a deal is a deal, and that the school board shouldn’t have made this deal in the first place. But they did make the deal, and the reason that they made the deal is currently sitting in the US Senate – and is sweating his re-election bid.  Blow this story up, and you maybe catch Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Michael Bennet2%Senate Democrat Average29See Full Scorecard2%‘s re-election prospects in the blast zone. Under the circumstances, I will sign that petition* with a glad heart, and an untroubled brow…

Moe Lane

PS: What’s really amusing here is that the Denver County Teachers Association apparently doesn’t know the story behind the swaps: otherwise, they might not have written the petition in the first place.  And they probably wouldn’t have addressed their complaint to… Tom Boasberg, who was one of the guys who set up the whole thing in the first place. Ach, well: live and learn, right?

PPS: Wall Street does you no favors, by the way. Strictly pay-for-play, is their motto.  …Reciprocate.

*I might feel differently if change.org petitions ever, you know, worked or anything.

The post Wow. A Change.org petition (on Wall Street returning $300 million to Denver schools) worth signing. appeared first on RedState.

1Apr/15Off

Teens Who Filmed Themselves Having Sex Charged as Child Pornographers ‘To Send a Message’

Four Chicago-area teenagers faces felony child-pornography charges after uploading a video of themselves having sex to Twitter. The three boys and one girl, ages 14-16, are being held in juvenile custody until a court hearing later this month. 

Both the sex and the posting of the video were consensual—this is not a rape or "revenge porn" scenario. But under Illinois law (as in many other states), minors who post sexually-oriented images of themselves online or even share them privately with one another can be charged as child pornographers. 

It's an absurd situation (and one Reason writers have railed against before). Maybe things like tweeting your orgy video or texting nude photos to classmates aren't the wisest decisions a teen can make, but these are matters that parents or perhaps school administrators should address, not the criminal justice system. Who benefits from branding these teens sex predators for life because they dared to explore their sexuality? 

The intent of laws against child pornography is to prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of minors. No minors were being abused or exploited in this case. In fact, it's the state who's actively doing them harm, and for what purpose? Why, to "send a message," of course.

From CBS Chicago

Police want the charges against the four students to serve as a cautionary tale to other youths engaged in high-risk behavior.

"The child pornography offense that was charged is in place for a reason, because we don’t want to accept that type of behavior as a society," [Joliet Police Chief Brian] Benton said. "It’s making a strong statement, and I think it’s important to do so, to send a message to others that kids shouldn’t be involved in this type of behavior, and hopefully this will serve as a deterrent."

Benton said such behavior could seriously affect the teens’ lives "for years to come."

"It’s an incident you may not recover from," he said.

The myopia on display in Benton's comments is incredible. The worst thing that's likely to happen from teens sharing their own sex video online is perhaps some judgment or ostracization if people they know see the video. But if convicted as child pornographers, these kids may be ripped from their schools and communities, placed in juvenile detention centers, and branded felons and sex offenders for life. As such, they'll have limited eligibility for college loans, limited employment opportunities, and restrictions on where they can live, travel, and more. So, yes, posting an online sex video of yourself as a teen could be "an incident you may not recover from," but only because of people like Police Chief Brian Benton. 

1Apr/15Off

Jim Webb Looks at Rand Paul

No, I won't play "MacArthur Park."Jim Webb—a Vietnam veteran, former secretary of the Navy, and former Virginia senator—has been looking at a possible run for the Democratic presidential nomination. He's a longshot, but he's an interesting longshot. (The longshots are almost always more interesting than the frontrunners.) Webb mixes populist economic rhetoric, a Southern Scots-Irish cultural style that isn't always P.C., a relatively antiwar foreign policy, and a strong interest in rolling back the carceral state; his communication director, Craig Crawford, has said the potential candidate wants "to unite urban blacks and rural whites." All of which reminds me, in a through-the-looking-glass way, of Rand Paul's mix of Tea Party economics, (diminishing) opposition to intervention abroad, and black outreach wrapped in pleas for criminal justice reform. There are obvious and substantial differences between Paul and Webb, but they stand out from the rest of their parties in similar ways.

So I was interested to read Webb's remarks about Paul in this Vox interview:

Ezra Klein: Have you been following the fight Rand Paul has sparked inside the Republican Party over their foreign policy?

Jim Webb: Some.

Ezra Klein: I'm curious what you think about it.

Jim Webb: I'm not going to make any judgment for the Republican Party on its policies, but I think there was a time, like when I was in the Senate, when the John McCain faction was so loud that a lot of the Republican Party was intimidated by it, to the point that it was difficult to have discussions on what other options were. But I would let Republicans sort that out for themselves.

But speaking of Rand Paul, one of the great ironies for me, having spent all this time on criminal justice reform, is how the Democrats have basically ceded this incredibly important issue to the Republicans, and Rand Paul's the guy who's been running with it.

If I had to look at two issues that I believe we should really put on the front of the burner, that cost us billions and marginalize people, the first is criminal justice reform. We lose billions and billions of dollars every year in terms of lost talent. At the same time, there are career criminals, and they deserve, essentially, what they get.

In case you're curious: Webb's second front-burner issue is Alzheimer's research.

1Apr/15Off

Tim Cook’s Ugly Power Play Against Religious Liberties in Indiana

Business boycotts are a perfectly legitimate tool for “signaling” one's discontent or affecting social change in a free Mike Pencesociety. One can debate their efficacy, but not their legitimacy. But trust corporations to take a good thing and turn it into crap. The CEOs of Apple, Salesforce (not to mention myriad sanctimonious state officials) are using boycotts to force Indiana to scrap its Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (because, they claim fallaciously, the law will give business owners “a license to discriminate” against gays).

What’s wrong with what they are doing? It they were merely boycotting Christian businesses whose beliefs they found abhorrent, it would be one thing, I note in my column at The Week. (After all, I avoid Domino's Pizza because its owner, Tom Monaghan, has expressly noted that he uses his profits to campaign against abortion rights. Losing my dollars won't change his mind, but it makes me feel better and it is no more useless than voting, a folly I occassionally indulge.)

“But what's truly obnoxious about his (Apple CEO Tim Cook’s) campaign is that he is using his right not to do business with Indiana, because it's doing something he disagrees with, to obtain a law that would deny Indiana businesses the same right not to do business with folks who they don’t agree with. This is simply intolerance masquerading as a crusade for justice and equality — a naked use of brute market power to legislate his views.”

Go here to read the whole thing.

1Apr/15Off

@AsaHutchinson assumes fetal position

asa hutchinson

I posted earlier today about the Arkansas legislature voting overwhelmingly for a state version of the RFRA, a law that would permit people of faith to live their faith publicly. Governor Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) has said he won’t sign the current bill.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday he would not sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by the Republican legislature Tuesday as it’s currently construed. Like the Indiana law, the Arkansas measure allows persons who feel their religious freedom is “substantially burdened” to fight an order in court—and persons include corporations. Opposition has been fierce from those who say it’s anti-gay. His son also signed a petition calling for the governor to veto the bill. Even Arkansas-based Wal-Mart weighed in. “Every day, in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers, and communities we serve,” a Wal-Mart spokesperson said. In a press conference Wednesday, Hutchinson said he wants the Arkansas bill to more closely resemble the federal law.

Perhaps this isn’t surprising. After the beating and subsequent folding by Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Hutchinson may have decided that taking on the gay lobby and WalMart was just too much. Oh, and his son wants him to veto the bill, so I guess that is a huge reason to. Just because Hutchinson doesn’t sign the bill doesn’t mean much. It goes into effect without his signature if he fails to act. It is also notable that Hutchinson has not said he will veto the law.

All this behavior on the part of the moral cowards who have insinuated themselves into leadership roles in the GOP is encourage more bad behavior by the left. Rather than taking these specious and utterly bull**** hypotheticals seriously,  both Pence and Hutchinson should simply shut up and move on.

The post @AsaHutchinson assumes fetal position appeared first on RedState.

1Apr/15Off

Arkansas Governor Wants Religious Freedom Bill Closer to Federal Law

Yesterday, as Indiana Gov. Mike Pence promised to amend his state's newly minted Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to clarify that the law "does not give anyone a license to deny services to gay and lesbian couples," the Arkansas legislature approved a similar bill. Although Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would sign the bill if it "reaches my desk in similar form as to what has been passed in 20 other states," today he said it was not similar enough to the federal version of RFRA and sent it back to the legislature for changes. "We wanted to have it crafted similar to what is at the federal level," Hutchinson said. "To do that, though, changes need to be made. The bill that is on my desk at the present time does not precisely mirror the federal law."

Perhaps the most consequential way in which the Arkansas bill differs from the federal RFRA is that it explicitly applies to proceedings in which the government is not a party, which would include discrimination complaints. The RFRAs adopted by Indiana and Texas, which Hutchinson before today seemed to consider essentially the same as those in the 18 other states with RFRAs, have the same provision. Should it be a deal breaker?

John DiPippa, a University of Arkansas at Little Rock law professor who testified in favor of a narrower Arkansas bill, seems to thinks so. DiPippa told The New York Times he "certainly never anticipated it applying to actions outside of government." But if two men or two women try to compel a recalcitrant photographer to take pictures at their wedding (or try to punish him for refusing to do so) by filing a complaint under a local or state anti-discrimination law, is that really an "action outside of government"? The complaint is possible only because the government has decreed that businesses may not consider sexual orientation in deciding which customers they will serve, and the penalties for violating that rule are enforceable only through the government's courts. Surely this is a kind of government action, albeit one initiated by a private party.

That logic helps explain why most of the circuit courts to consider the issue have ruled that the federal RFRA, which does not explicitly cover proceedings brought by private parties, nevertheless can be applied to them—a position that also has been endorsed by the Justice Department. As Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law, points out in a recent National Review article, lawsuits in which courts have allowed RFRA defenses include copyright and bankruptcy cases as well as discrimination complaints under Title VII and the Americans With Disabilities Act. Blackman notes that "the state courts, like the federal courts, have wrestled over whether state RFRAs can be raised as a defense in private suits."

Raising the defense and winning are two different things, of course. As I noted yesterday, University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, an expert on religious liberty who supports gay marriage but is sympathetic to the claims of conscientious objectors who do not want to facilitate it, is "not optimistic" that Indiana's law will shield photographers, florists, bakers, and other business owners who decline work for gay weddings in the three Indiana cities—Indianapolis, Bloomington, and South Bend—that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Courts may very well decide that the burden imposed on people with religious objections to gay weddings is justified by the "compelling governmental interest" in preventing discrimination. Laycock notes that "nobody has ever won a religious exemption from a discrimination law under a RFRA standard." 

The uncertainty about whether a RFRA defense can work in such cases gives cover to Pence, who says he wants to sign legislation this week that makes it clear "this law does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone." Strictly speaking, RFRA guarantees no such right; it merely provides a possible defense in certain discrimination cases. Furthermore, Indiana law does not ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, so in most of the state business owners already have "a license to deny services to gay and lesbian couples." Since Pence has said he does not want to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation at the state level, the most the "fix" he has in mind could accomplish is to let gay couples in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and South Bend conscript unwilling contractors into helping with their weddings. That sort of forced tolerance does not strike me as a noble cause, and allowing it will surely alienate the conservatives who supported Indiana's RFRA.

1Apr/15Off

Recording Abusive Border Patrol Conduct Becomes a Thing Among Fed-Up Americans

Border Patrol agents' bad behavior—not just at the international boundary but at checkpoints as much as 100 court-endorsed miles away within the "Constitution-free zone"—is easy to document both because it's so damned common, and because of the willingness of some brave souls to record their encounters and post the results online. Terry Bressi, a University of Arizona staff engineer, is something of a pioneer in the field of documenting encounters with armed and abusive federal agents. When Reason TV interviewed him in 2013, he'd already recorded over 300 such meet-and-greets. Maybe his example inspired others, or perhaps the impossibility of transiting many roads and communities, especially in the Southwest, without being stopped by Border Patrol made responses inevitable. The Houston Chronicle reports that there's a growing surge of Americans recording themselves asserting their rights to ill-behaved federal thugs.

Writes the Chronicle's Dane Schiller:

Some of the travelers appear to be making a stand for what they say are their rights and contend that the government, which has long drawn support for doing whatever is needed to protect the nation's borders, is going too far.

Determining how widespread the videotaping has become is difficult to determine, but they are well-known among border activists, academics, lawyers and law-enforcement officers from Texas to California. Hundreds of such videos are posted online, and they are drawing millions of viewers.

"Some of the travelers" are standing for their rights? Well, others may be sticking it to Border Patrol for shits and giggles, including the guy who sped his way through a checkpoint by wielding a Bible and offering to save the agent's soul. Remember that tactic. It could be handy.

But asserting your rights to refuse searches and ignore unreasonable questions at the checkpoints can be dangerous—and painful. Greg Rosenberg was held for 19 days last year without charges after bristling at Soviet-style treatment (he's a naturalized citizen who suffered under the communists in Armenia) at a South Texas checkpoint. He was held after refusing to concede that he was in the wrong

His case is hardly isolated. Schiller discusses the case of Thomas Sauer, a long-haul trucker like Rosenberg, who was dragged from his vehicle after he failed to bow down to Border Patrol agents. He also was not charged.

Others have faced prison time after driving away or resisting a beat-down by the uniformed agents.

Border Patrol conduct can be even worse away from the observing eyes at a checkpoint. Clarisa Christiansen says a roving patrol slashed her car tires and left her and her children stranded by the side of the road after she refused consent to a search. She's represented in her complaint by the ACLU of Arizona.

Even among other federal agencies, the Border Patrol has acquired a lousy reputation. Last year, Politico's Garett M. Graff reported that problems exploded after the hysteria-fueled expansion of Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol's parent agency, after 9/11.

Corruption and excessive force have also skyrocketed along with the massive hiring surge. In fact, between 2005 and 2012, nearly one CBP officer was arrested for misconduct every single day—part of a pattern that Ronald Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigation division, calls "shocking."

Shocking, for sure. But nobody at the federal level has done anything to curb their attack dogs. If they had, public encounters with Border Patrol would be fewer, and far more pleasant. They'd more closely resemble the idealized situation below.

But pleasant encounters are few and far between with Border Patrol. Until they change their behavior, and their masters in D.C. alter the policies that enable such conduct, the best we can do is record our encounters, expose abuse, and remind the feds that they are widely despised by the people around them.

1Apr/15Off

One Georgia Judge Takes on Mandatory Minimums by Informing Jury Before Conviction

Recognizing that the juries are supposed to have power? How droll.We all know that juries don't really decide criminal cases on all the facts. They decide cases on all the facts the state allows them to consider. Sometimes the potential sentences of certain convictions are among the facts the government (prosecutors especially) want to conceal. A Fulton County Superior Court judge in Georgia has apparently had enough of keeping her juries in the dark about mandatory minimum sentences. Wendy Shoob decided to fill them in before they went into deliberations. From the Fully Informed Jury Association:

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob recently took the all too uncommon but highly commendable step of informing jurors of the mandatory minimum punishment she would be forced to impose on the defendant if they convicted him of armed robbery. In this case, the defendant was facing a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted of armed robbery (with an air gun) because he had three prior felonies: one for possession of a screwdriver (yes, really), another for receiving stolen property, and a third for aggravated assault during a jail riot.

The prosecution tried to get her to dump the case. She refused, saying that she had the right to express her opinion about mandatory minimum sentences and that the jury "should be informed when their verdict automatically imposes, by law, a mandatory sentence." She also pointed out that jury power over sentencing is supposed to serve as "a check on overreaching government."

The jury subsequently found the defendant guilty of a lesser charge that sent him to prison for 30 years, 10 of which must be served without the possibility of parole.

1Apr/15Off

When British Students Play Video Games, Teachers Will Sic the Cops on Their Parents

Call of DutyBritish parents are on notice: If you let your kids play a mature video game, it will not go unnoticed by the state.

This new level of micromanagement comes to us from school officials in Cheshire, England. ITV reports:

Parents have been told by headteachers [the British word for “principals’] that they will be reported to police and social services for neglect if they allow their children to play over-18 computer games, according to the Sunday Times.

The newspaper reported that a warning was issued by primary and secondary schools who found children had been watching or playing games like Call of Duty and Gears of War or Grand Theft Auto. [Gracious me! How ever did they find that out? They must have amazing research powers!]

The group wrote to parents, saying sexual content and violence and sexual content in the games are inappropriate and could lead to “early sexualised behaviour” and leave children “vulnerable to grooming for sexual exploitation or extreme violence”.

Clearly, all those children are in immediate danger and need the state to save them. Now let’s see. According to the Pew Research Center, 97 percent of kids 12 to 17 played some type of video game, and two-thirds of them played action and adventure games that tend to contain violent content.

So that means about two-thirds of families would be reported to the police. Maybe the state could just move each child one house to the left, so they could all be reared by someone who is not their parents?

Crime—even child abuse—has been going down as the consumption of violent video games has increased. But pay no attention to that pesky little correlation. Who cares if there isn’t any actual problem? Remember the 3 D’s of child safety: Deplore! Dement! Demand action!

This post was originally published at Free-Range Kids.

1Apr/15Off

Russia Pledges Essentially Zero To Global Greenhouse Gas Goals

Putin LaughingYesterday, the Obama administration issued its proposals for the country's intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) to the global effort to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the world's climate under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Obama pledged that the U.S. would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28 percent by 2025 with the goal of reducing them by 80 percent by 2050.

Every country is supposed to issue their INDC pledges before the next big U.N. climate change meeting in Paris this coming December. The Russians have just issued their INDC and it's kind of amusing. The Russians pledge to aim at:

Limiting anthropogenic greenhouse gases in Russia to 70-75% of 1990 levels by the year 2030 might be a long-term indicator, subject to the maximum possible account of absorbing capacity of forests.

Why amusing? If I am reading the data right, Russian emssions are already well below the 70 percent mark. According to U.N. data, total Russian greenhouse gas emissions amounted to about 3.4 billion metric tons in 1990. In the wake of the economic turmoil occasioned by the collapse of the Soviet Union, emissions dropped to 2 billion metric tons in 2000 and subsequently rose to 2.3 billion tons in 2012. As the new INDC pledge makes clear that Russians want to count the capacity of that country's extensive forests to absorb carbon dioxide as an offset to greenhouse gas emissions.

In climate-speak the effects of forests on the fates of greenhouse gas emissions is called LULUCF (land use, land use changes and forests). Again parsing the U.N. data, one finds that in 1990, Russia was cutting its forests and so emitting extra greenhouse gases for a total of 3.5 billion metric tons in 1990. Forest regrowth by 2000 was absorbing 400 million tons of carbon dioxide, reducing Russian overall emissions to just 1.6 billion tons. By 2012, forests were removing 500 million tons, thus reducing emissions to 1.8 million tons.

So assuming that Russians don't count the greenhouse gas absorption of their trees, current emissions already 32 percent lower than they were in 1990. If they count their trees as they seem to want to do in the new INDC, overall emissions are currently 50 percent below their 1990 levels.

So one way to interpret the Russian INDC is that the country has no intention of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and, in fact, has left plenty of space for it to increase its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Very funny, no?

1Apr/15Off

Border Patrol ignores illegals and begins harassing citizens

border patrol

I’ll used this opening graf from the Houston Chronicle because it says it all:

No drugs or would-be immigrants were hidden in the sedan that rolled up to a Border Patrol checkpoint on a Southern California highway last week, but within 90 seconds the driver was handcuffed.

His 4-year-old boy was crying. And a video camera mounted on the car’s dashboard captured the moment. The motorist had said he was an American but told the agent he did not have to say where he was going, would not consent to a search of his trunk and would not move his car.

“You brought this on yourself, buddy,” an agent says as he is led away.

Another traveler came through a similar checkpoint in El Paso this month, also with a video camera rolling.

Back in 1976, the Supreme Court found it was completely constitutional for the US Border Patrol to run checkpoints along the border with Mexico and Canada. Some of the checkpoints are as much as 100 miles from the border. And the definition of “border” will surprise you:

Customs and Border Protection also maintains that it can set up roadblocks—it prefers the term “temporary permanent checkpoints” for legal reasons—and question people on trains and buses or at transportation stations anywhere within 100 air miles of a U.S. border or seacoast. This broadly defined border zone encompasses most of the nation’s major cities and the entirety of several states, including Florida, Michigan, Hawaii, Delaware, New Jersey, and five of the six New England states. The American Civil Liberties Union—concerned about the erosion of Fourth Amendment protections against arbitrary searches and seizures—has called it the “Constitution-Free Zone.”

The aggressive stance reported by the Chronicle seems to fly in the face of the Supreme Court decision that authorized the checkpoints in the first place. That decision is clear that while the checkpoints, themselves, are legal that all searches and detentions must be justified by probable cause. The way this low-level fascism has evolved though indicates that the Border Patrol has adopted that small town cop mentality where an challenge must be met with violence:

Were these checkpoints doing something besides allowing the Border Patrol to exhibit penis size to American citizens, I might be persuaded that they serve a purpose. However, when one considers the thousands of miles of US Border without a single agent watching it and the numerous unmanned crossing points between the US and Canada one really has to wonder if this is anything more than a scam perpetrated by the Border Patrol to add variety to the careers of their agents.

Are the handful of illegal aliens… maybe including “Dreamers”… rounded up at these checkpoints more dangerous than the mass migration across out southern border? Why are they even bothering considering the administration has virtually decided that it will not enforce immigration laws. Since 2013, over 36,000 illegal aliens who were also convicted criminals have been released:
In 2013, ICE freed 36,007 convicted criminal aliens from detention who were awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings, according to a document obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies. This group included aliens convicted of hundreds of violent and serious crimes, including homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. The list of crimes also includes more than 16,000 drunk or drugged driving convictions. The vast majority of these releases from ICE custody were discretionary, not required by law (in fact, in some instances, apparently contrary to law), nor the result of local sanctuary policies.

The document reveals that the 36,007 convicted criminal aliens freed from ICE custody in many instances had multiple convictions. Among them, the 36,007 had nearly 88,000 convictions, including:

193 homicide convictions (including one willful killing of a public official with gun)

426 sexual assault convictions

303 kidnapping convictions

1,075 aggravated assault convictions

1,160 stolen vehicle convictions

9,187 dangerous drug convictions

16,070 drunk or drugged driving convictions

303 flight escape convictions

Benjamin Franklin warned us about the folly of essential liberty (here the freedom to travel unmolested by agents of the government) for temporary safety (sorry, I wasn’t able to identify how this was making us safer). The pendulum has swung now to the point that essential liberty is being eroded simply because the government wants to show us who is boss.

The post Border Patrol ignores illegals and begins harassing citizens appeared first on RedState.

1Apr/15Off

John Stossel on the Next Housing Bubble

When the last housing bubble burst, politicians blamed "greedy banks." They said mortgage companies lent money recklessly, making loans to people with dubious credit, for down payments as low as three percent.  "It will work out," said the optimistic bankers. Regulators didn't disagree. Everyone said, "Home prices will keep going up." And home prices did—until they didn't.  The bubble popped in 2007. Then the politicians said, "We'll fix this so it doesn't happen again." Congress passed Dodd-Frank and a thousand new regulations. The complex rules slowed lending, all right. It's one reason this post-recession recovery has been abnormally slow. But, writes John Stossel, the new rules didn't solve the problem of reckless lending, and it's happening again. 

View this article.

1Apr/15Off

Watch Matt Welch Talk RFRAs on Fox Business Network at 2:30 pm ET, Then GermanWings and Free Speech on HuffPost Live at 5

I will be on Fox Business Network's MONEY w/ Melissa Francis at 2:30 p.m. ET to talk about the controversies over religious exemptions laws, and then on HuffPost Live's "Cocktail Chatter" at 5 p.m. to discuss mental health issues and the GermanWings case.