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30May/15Off

Watch Matt Welch Discuss Campaign 2016 and Criminal Justice on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Today at 10 a.m. ET

This morning I’ll be on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry program beginning at 10 a.m. ET, to talk about the competitiveness gap in the Republican/Democratic 2016 presidential fields, the potential youth appeal of septuagenarian socialist Bernie Sanders, the WTF factor of Martin O’Malley, and also some criminal justice stuff tied to Cleveland. It’ll be a good panel, including Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!

30May/15Off

Bernie Sanders’ War on Chinese Bobbleheads!

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) officially launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday, vowing to kick-start a revolution that will change America "economically, politically, socially and environmentally." Back in 2011 Reason TV highlighted Sanders' misguided understanding of economics and why "Made in America" isn't always the best slogan to get behind. Original text is below. 

In the midst of a massive fiscal crisis, a take-no-prisoners budget battle, a historically long recession, and two (make that three) wars, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) knows what really matters.

He's pushing the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. to only sell bobble-heads, T-shirts, snow-globes, and other souvenirs that are made in America. After getting a letter from and taking a meeting with the self-described Green Mountain State socialist, the folks at the Smithsonian have agreed to increase the amount of domestically produced junk for sale in their gift shops. They're even constructing a new gift shop solely to products manufactured in America that will be called the Price of Freedom.

During a recent trip to the National Mall, Reason.tv found that such nativist grandstanding plays well with the man in the street, but CATO policy analyst Sallie James says protectionism doesn't come cheap. In fact, top-down attempts to keep Americans in low-level manufacturing jobs is a great way to ruin the economy, whether we're talking about Founding Father thimbles or higher-end electronics.

Produced by Joshua Swain, with help from Meredith Bragg, and hosted by Michael Moynihan.

Approximately 3 minutes.

Scroll down for HD, iPod and audio versions of this video and subscribe to Reason.tv's Youtube channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

30May/15Off

Dean Obeidallah’s Last Resort is Hither

It started out as a typical Saturday morning. Wake up, get some coffee, check Twitter, see outrage of the day, move on. Today, it was stand-up-turned-pundit Dean Obeidallah’s turn to provide the outrage.

Dean1

 

So, okay, Obeidallah is probably upset at the protesters wielding guns at a mosque to protest radical Islam’s affect on the kind of people who like to kill Christians and gays. I can see where the outrage is coming from. I don’t necessarily agree with Obeidallah’s politics, but that’s cool. You do you, Dean… Well, that was the mentality until Godwin’s Law came into effect.

Dean2

I love this typo so much, you guys.

I was shocked, I’ll admit, considering the wealth of knowledge out there about Hitler’s utter rejection of religion and his dabbling in the occult from time to time. But pointing that out doesn’t stop Obeidallah from doubling down. At all.

“In Mein Kampf, Hitler speaks about killing Jews in the name of the Lord,” says Obeidallah, who apparently has not heard of propagandists using rhetoric to get people to join their cause (unless, of course, it’s ISIS, who is totally not following Islam, but is using it as a tool to recruit while really not be Islamic at all, despite all evidence to the contrary). “He was Catholic,” Obeidallah laters says, ignoring the fact that Hitler on multiple occasions said that the Nazi party was the “party of science” (hello, Democrats) and that it could not co-exist with religion. Hitler, by all historic accounts, stopped attending the sacraments before his political career started, but used the pillars of a specific religion to bolster the legitimacy of his cause.

The irony may or may not be lost on Obeidallah.

The post Dean Obeidallah’s Last Resort is Hither appeared first on RedState.

30May/15Off

Baylen Linnekin: Don’t Ban Trans Fats

DonutAny day now, the FDA is expected to issue a rule that will effectively ban the use of manmade, trans-fat-containing partially hydrogenated oils in all foods.

Most experts agree trans fats aren’t good for you. The American Heart Association, for example, recommends eating no more than 2 grams per day.

There’s some question about the difference between the manmade variety—those trans fats in partially hydrogenated oils—and those trans fats that occur naturally in beef and dairy.

In any case, the FDA claims the ban could save around 7,000 lives per year. The agency has required food manufacturers to list the trans fat content of packaged foods since 2006. That’s helped reduce the amount of trans fats in the average American’s diet from far above to well below the American Heart Association recommendations.

So if Americans are already eating less trans fats than health experts recommend, why the push to ban them?

View this article.

30May/15Off

Woman tried to open plane door and kicked guards after arriving late for flight [Video]

Talk about self-important. Even if I’m late for a flight and lose an airfare, I would never do this. You deal. This is also an excellent way to get shot

30May/15Off

Say, Can We Head Off A Long Summer Of Riots?

An interesting piece at the Huffington Post by Peter Drier, E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, Occidental College (via Hot Air headlines) Can We Head Off a Long Hot Summer

30May/15Off

Rubio: Say, This Obama Middle East “Policy” Has Backfired

Senator Marco Rubio has penned an op-ed in the Washington Post, noting how bad Obama’s Middle East policies have failed The fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to the

30May/15Off

Utah woman to serve 49 years for murdering her 6 newborns and hiding their bodies [Video]

And her family just can’t believe the sweet girl they knew could do this… Can they believe she was a meth addict for all those years? She killed six newborns

30May/15Off

Anheuser-Busch Producing Canned Water for Flood Victims in Texas and Oklahoma

Now, that is true American charity. Anheuser Busch has stopped beer production in Georgia, so they can produce 50,000 cans of water for Texas and Oklahoma during the monumental rains

30May/15Off

How the Government Should Go About Gathering Data

“We’ve got to figure some way out of this.”

That’s Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, referring to congressional deadlock over key provisions of the Patriot Act that are about to expire.

The question, amid concerns over government data-gathering and the dramatic uptick in terrorist attacks, is what that way should be.

Like it or not, the United States is at war with al-Qaida, the Taliban, the Islamic State and associated forces. It must therefore rely on all lawful tools of national security, including robust “signals” intelligence.

As the 9/11 Commission Report made clear, a major failure before the 9/11 attacks was the government’s inability to “connect the dots” on known or suspected terrorists.

Any debate about America’s counterterrorism capabilities must be conducted in the context of the actual terrorist threat the U.S. faces. Terrorist organizations have undertaken a significant effort to recruit and radicalize individuals worldwide. FBI Director James Comey recently testified that the Islamic State is contacting “hundreds, maybe thousands” of individuals across the U.S. to attack the U.S. homeland.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has echoed these warnings, saying that lone-wolf terrorists inspired by the Islamic State could strike at any moment.

The U.S. has improved its ability to foil these attacks, largely due to intelligence capabilities that include the bulk telephone metadata program under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

For decades our country has relied on robust signals intelligence to gather critical information about our enemies. For the most part, the communications we were most interested in happened overseas and were gathered without a warrant.

In 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review government requests for orders allowing for electronic surveillance. FISA allowed the FBI to obtain orders from the FISC authorizing common carriers to provide the government certain business records for the purpose of foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations.

After 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act. Under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the government—pursuant to FISC court order—has been collecting telephone metadata information in bulk. Phone companies provide routing information, including date and time of call, number called, and duration of call. The content of calls isn’t collected.

As Americans, we cherish our constitutional rights, including our right to privacy. Numerous court decisions have held that that data, in the hands of third-party providers, are not protected by the Fourth Amendment. To date, two federal district courts have issued opinions regarding bulk telephone metadata collection: One held that the practice didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment, the other, written by Judge Richard Leon, found that it did.

Two other federal district courts issued opinions that appear to conflict with Judge Leon’s decision. The government appealed Judge Leon’s decision, and that appeal is pending before the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In view of the Islamic State and al-Qaida’s renewed determination to strike the American homeland, it would be unwise to completely abandon the use of telephone metadata to help disrupt terrorist plots and/or gain intelligence about foreign terrorists. There are three major policy options that Congress should consider:

  • Amend Section 215 to allow the National Security Agency to continue to collect bulk telephone metadata and query that data as permitted by court order; codify the existing program, but add in cellphone data as well; and fold in the transparency, privacy and civil liberties contained within the USA Freedom Act.
  • Require that a private, third-party entity house the bulk telephone metadata, including cellphone data. Court orders from the FISC would authorize select employees of the private entity, with appropriate security clearances, to query the database. As with option one, Congress could add transparency, civil liberties, and privacy protections contained in the USA Freedom Act.
  • Reauthorize Section 215 and reform it to end government bulk collection of telephone metadata by the NSA. Instead, the metadata resides with the telephone carriers, where the government will have access to it subject to a court order by the FISC.

The House of Representatives has, in effect, selected option three by passing the USA Freedom Act. It certainly could be improved, but it contains other meaningful reforms and civil liberty protections.

It’s time for Congress to make a choice.

Originally published in the Bradenton Herald 

The post How the Government Should Go About Gathering Data appeared first on The Daily Signal.

30May/15Off

Here’s How We Combat Cultural Cronyism

What do you do if you’re pursuing unpopular interests that are contrary to the public good? How do you force change in a democratic republic when you can’t win everything you want through open debate?

You rig the game. You ingratiate yourself to those who hold the levers of power and use your connections to exercise outsized influence. You get your friends to referee on your behalf. You undermine any opposition by making dissent irrelevant.

In this effort, big government is your best friend.

>>> For more on this, see Ryan T. Anderson’s new book, “The Future of Marriage and Religious Liberty.”

The bigger the government—the more discretionary authority granted to executive agencies, the more federal money distributed to local governments and institutions of civil society, the more areas of life subject to government regulation, the fewer policies set by citizens and the more made by bureaucrats and judges—the easier it becomes to achieve victory for your cause.

Why bother to persuade voters of the merit of a controversial idea when you could just as easily convince the right handful of judges or agency heads? Why hash out controversy in the sunlight when the back room is available?

Picking Cultural Winners and Losers 

In the economic realm, conservatives have taken to calling this alliance between big government and special interests cronyism.

It’s a helpful framework that translates traditional conservative arguments against big government into a moral case for basic fairness. Americans are rightly outraged when they hear about companies like Solyndra that can’t find investors on the market and instead depend on federal boondoggles before collapsing. They are incensed when they learn that big businesses like Boeing, which can earn profits on their own in the market, ask for sweetheart financing deals from government institutions like the Export-Import Bank.

Government should enact economic policies that foster the common good of our nation, not the special interests of powerful lobbies. Government should promote opportunity for all and show favoritism to none.

What’s true for the economy is true for the culture, as well. While cronyism is most recognizable when it generates economic windfalls for the favored few, conservatives would do well to explain that it also operates in other realms. Indeed, for decades, the left has been seeking special advantages from government in its effort to reshape the character of American society.

So, if you’re against the government arbitrarily picking winners and losers in the economy, you need to be against it doing the same in the culture. If Solyndra and the Export-Import Bank are a problem, so too is government funding for Planned Parenthood and government discrimination against Catholic Charities.

We call this sort of government special-interest-seeking “cultural cronyism.”

The Cronies’ Favorite Institution: Courts 

Cultural cronyists often start in the courts, where they leverage the networks and institutions they dominate in law and academia to convince sympathetic judges to enact sweeping rulings that declare their core social priorities to be fundamental rights. In Roe v. Wade, activist judges sympathetic to abortion substituted their policy preferences for the text of the Constitution in an effort to shut down an ongoing public debate over the issue and impose their own social values.

In a similar way, cultural cronyists have had increasing success on redefining marriage through the courts. Despite numerous defeats at the ballot box over the last decade on an issue so controversial that in order to win elections left-wing politicians like President Obama blatantly lie to voters, cultural cronyists have convinced judges to strike down dozens of democratically enacted state marriage laws and are working tirelessly to impose a redefinition of marriage on the entire country during this Supreme Court term.

Once they get the courts to protect their favored policies from democratic scrutiny, cultural cronyists, like economic cronyists, use the levers of power to further entrench their favored causes. Each year, Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country—performing over 300,000 abortions every year—receives hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars through Title X grants and Medicaid reimbursements and other governmental sources.

Congress and the Obama administration send tens of millions in tax dollars each year to the United Nations Population Fund—an organization that has faced continued assertions that it is complicit in enforcing China’s brutally coercive one-child policy.

And the federal government’s significant involvement in various civic institutions gives it the power to undermine those that do not share its social ethic. In 2011, for example, the federal government halted a human trafficking grant to Catholic Charities on the grounds that it did not provide referrals for abortion. Never mind that the Catholic Charities program received a higher score of effectiveness than the organizations ultimately awarded the grants.

We’ll Decide How to Handle Our Foes 

Worse yet, government’s socially progressive allies often have a seat at the table when the government decides how to crack down on civic institutions that don’t toe the progressive cultural line.

In crafting the notorious Department of Health and Human Services contraception and abortifacient mandate, for example, the federal government relied almost exclusively on counsel from the Institute of Medicine. The panel’s meetings on those recommendations included presentations from Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates like the National Women’s Law Center, and the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, while pro-life groups were noticeably absent from the discussion.

While the Supreme Court ruled that the Green family and the Hahn family did not have to pay for life-ending drugs in the health plans for their family businesses, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, the government still hasn’t backed down. The Little Sisters of the Poor are still in federal court seeking relief from the Obama administration that is forcing them to violate their beliefs or face millions of dollars a year in fines simply for wanting to take care of the elderly in accordance with their faith.

Cultural cronyists also work at the state and local level to stifle dissent and require citizens to actively participate in activities with which they disagree.

The worst instances are sexual orientation and gender identity laws that treat traditional, common sense views about marriage like racism, and have required photographers, florists, bakers, farmers, and ordained ministers to help celebrate same-sex marriage ceremonies that violate their deeply held moral views—or face crushing government penalties.

These professionals have no problem serving gay and lesbian customers. They only object to being coerced to affirm same-sex weddings. In declining to do so, they harm no one, and they violate no one’s rights. Yet the government is telling them they must violate their beliefs.

Let’s Hurt Kids to Make Our Point 

It is precisely that grotesque form of cultural cronyism that explains why the Massachusetts, Illinois, and D.C. governments have discriminated against faith-based foster care and adoption agencies.

These agencies have simply asked to be free to do their charitable work, without government punishment, in accordance with their beliefs. Nothing about their stance would prevent gays and lesbians from adopting through other agencies. Yet these groups have been charged with an intolerable viewpoint and run out of their works of service. Discriminating against these religious charities does nothing to help children—it only scores a point in an adult culture war.

It gets worse.

California has enacted and the District of Columbia City Council has passed a law that would force pro-life organizations to pay for coverage of elective abortions. Jim Garlow, a pastor in California and the adoptive father of four children—the first conceived in rape—said the California mandate forcing him to buy insurance covering surgical abortion is “repulsive beyond words.” Other forms of this local cultural cronyism are almost as pernicious, such as local school curricula endorsed by Planned Parenthood that promote sexual activity to children as young as seven years old.

The success of cultural cronyism matters not only because it results in bad policy but also because it works in tandem with Progressive influence over our civil institutions to shape the culture we live in.

In a country whose laws actively aim to subvert individual conscience on contentious issues, it’s easy for cultural progressives to argue that those who stand up for culturally conservative principles like Brendan Eich of Mozilla Firefox, are so despicable that they cannot be allowed gainful employment. As government tilts the scales of policy in favor of progressive social causes, the space for acceptable public dissent from the new morality diminishes.

The benefits of cultural cronyism, like economic cronyism, flow in both directions. Last election cycle, the Planned Parenthood SuperPAC rewarded its allies in Congress with more than $6 million in campaign contributions. The Human Rights Campaign, which promotes anti-conscience SOGI laws, contributed almost a million dollars of its own to federal campaign coffers. These organizations and others get their money’s worth.

The Game Plan for Eradicating Cultural Cronyism 

How do we begin to push back?

We start by fighting in the courts for fair interpretation and application of our laws. Courts must not favor special interests’ desires over the actual text of the Constitution. Without fair courts, no amount of public debate can result in sound policy on issues like marriage and life.

Outside the courtroom, our best strategy for combating cultural cronyism is identical to our strategy for combating economic cronyism: Fight for governments whose powers are limited enough that cronyism becomes impossible. The alliance between social and economic conservatives is no mere product of contingent historical circumstance. Its strength is in part due to the fact that the greatest threat on both fronts is shared: The expansion of government into realms far beyond its appropriate scope.

So how can the government promote opportunity for all while refusing to engage in culture cronyist favoritism? The most foundational way in which government promotes opportunity for all is by protecting the opportunity for all children to be born. It gives favoritism to none by refusing to force citizens to pay for abortions or abortion insurance, whether through taxpayer funding or private plans.

Likewise, in promoting the truth about marriage, government promotes the opportunity for all children to be united with and raised by their mother and father. After all, the state’s not in the marriage business because it’s a sucker for consenting adult romance, but because the sexual union of a man and a woman can produce a child and children deserve a mom and a dad. In refusing to coerce citizens into violating their personal beliefs, such as celebrating same-sex weddings, it shows favoritism to none.

The only way to combat government cultural cronyism is to recover a sound understanding of the purposes of government. And the best way to do that is to return to the vision of the Declaration of Independence. Government rightly exists to protect the self-evident natural rights articulated in the Declaration. All human beings are created equal and endowed by their Creator with a right to life—including the unborn. We are created male and female, and marriage, by nature, is the union of man and woman.

Only by remaining faithful to these truths can we fight back against government cultural cronyism, protect opportunity for all, and show favoritism to none.

Originally published in The Federalist 

The post Here’s How We Combat Cultural Cronyism appeared first on The Daily Signal.

30May/15Off

The Obama Administration Was Handed a Huge Immigration Defeat. Here’s Why It Matters.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed the Obama administration a huge defeat this week.

It denied the government’s request for an emergency stay of a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of President Obama’s immigration amnesty program. This is not a decision on the merits of the lawsuit filed against the administration by the 26 states. But it certainly does not bode well for the administration’s case since in today’s 2-1 decision, the 5th Circuit concluded that “the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the injunction.”

The panel also denied the government’s request to narrow the nationwide scope of the injunction so that it only applied to Texas and the other states in the lawsuit.

The court concluded that “partial implementation of [the president’s program] would undermine the constitutional imperative of ‘a uniform Rule of Naturalization’” contained in Article I of the U.S. Constitution, as well as “Congress’s instruction that ‘the immigration laws of the United States should be enforced vigorously and uniformly’” that is outlined in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

The 68-page opinion was written by Jerry Smith, a Reagan appointee, who was joined by Jennifer Elrod, a George W. Bush appointee.

The dissenting judge, Stephen Higginson, an Obama appointee, argued that the underlying immigration issue is one that can only be decided “by the federal political branches” and is not an appropriate issue for “intervention and judicial fiat” by the courts.

Next up in the 5th Circuit will be the main event: Oral arguments over the substantive issue at stake, which is the constitutional and statutory merit of the injunction issued against President Obama’s plan to, in essence, legalize up to 5 million illegal aliens.

Originally published in the National Review 

The post The Obama Administration Was Handed a Huge Immigration Defeat. Here’s Why It Matters. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

30May/15Off

20 Questions You’re Not Supposed To Ask In America Today

My latest Townhall column is called, 20 Questions You’re Not Supposed To Ask In America Today. Here’s an excerpt from the column. 1) If Islam is really a religion of

30May/15Off

Tech at Night: Internet anarchist and Silk Road founder gets life

Ross Ulbricht, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts, founded an online crime syndicate using the Tor network. Drugs, human trafficking, guns, and even possibly murder for hire were traded in the network. He was caught, and he got life in prison.

These are the threats, not monitoring terrorists.


The Obama administration is acting against mergers even when there’s no harm in them, making unreasonable demands in a move closer to planned economy. These are the threats, not monitoring terrorists.


Government regulating the Internet. This is a real threat, affecting real Americans, not monitoring terrorists.


You know who’s the real threat to American privacy? Not NSA. FBI is. And yet Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) 82% is fixated on NSA in his Presidential campaign grandstanding.


Enough Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) 82%. We’ve apparently got another fight on sales taxes coming up. Last year the Walmarts of America overreached badly in their attempt to get the Congress to pick winners and losers. They pushed for a very aggressive bill that would have placed huge burdens on people, and given a lot of trouble to people in non-sales-tax states. In addition, the rhetoric from folks like Mike Enzi was pretty bad, and clearly not designed to appeal to conservatives.

Basically, I felt like the whole campaign was forgetting that it would have to pass the House. Which it didn’t. My hope was that this time there would be a more modest, more federalist bill, one that reached out to folks like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 100% and House conservatives.

Well, sadly, Enzi is trying again with the same bad bill. But the good news is, the House is moving, too. You see, Democrats are fine with just imposing new and higher taxes as sales tax revenues fall, or just being like California and insisting on imposing interstate ‘use tax’ anyway. But Republicans would like not to do that, so they’d like some sort of legal, Constitutional compromise that keeps states from having to raise or impose new taxes.

One option we’re seeing is by Goodlatte, which would effectively change the structure of sales tax in this country, by moving from a buyer-pays to a seller-pays system. The effect on prices it the same. However Goodlatte’s idea would have some key effects. It would cause people to effectively pay other states’ sales taxes. It would potentially cause double taxation, from buyers in buyer-pays states with ‘use taxes’ buying from sellers in seller-pays states. And in the long run it would put pressure on states (possibly unfairly) to rework their whole tax schemes, which is what a bill is meant to be avoiding here. I’d still prefer it to the Enzi bill, though.

Another option is by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) 88%, though. This would start putting tough limitations on a bill of the type Enzi is putting up. If we start doing things like preventing foreign states from imposting audits or other unfair burdens on retailers doing interstate commerce, that’s a really good thing. After all, removing those kinds of burdens on interstate commerce was one of the principal reasons we passed the Constitution to begin with!

So, with multiple bills, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens.

The post Tech at Night: Internet anarchist and Silk Road founder gets life appeared first on RedState.

30May/15Off

Republican Brawlers (Cartoon)

29May/15Off

Overnight Podcast: The Bob and Chez Show, 5/28/15 – and by the Way, Chuck Johnson Is Back on Twitter Again

Here's the latest edition of The Bubble Genius Bob & Chez Show for your podcast-listening enjoyment.

And by the way... Chuck Johnson has sneaked back onto Twitter again. He's now using the @GotNewsResearch account, and is up to his old tricks. Time for all LGF readers to report this guy for ...