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29Jan/15Off

Mike Lee Grills Loretta Lynch on Operation Choke Point

President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, faced questions about the government’s controversial Operation Choke Point in her Senate testimony yesterday.

“I’m generally familiar with the name Operating Choke Point,” she told Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, about the Justice Department initiative.

“My general understanding of it is that it looks to target financial institutions that are involved in perpetrating frauds upon consumers,” said Lynch.

Operation Choke Point has been criticized for targeting legal businesses like firearms and ammunition sellers by intimidating the banks they use.

>>> Under Pressure From Congress, Agencies Agree to Investigate Operation Choke Point

Lynch told the senator that should she be confirmed, she would work with him to ensure that law-abiding Americans aren’t targeted by the initiative.

“I look forward to hearing your concerns and working with you on them,” she said.

Two weeks prior to her testimony, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., asked for a written response to concerns about Operation Choke Point earlier this month after meeting with Lynch on Jan. 7.

Vitter, also a member of the Judiciary Committee, has not yet received a response to those questions.

>>> Firearms Sellers Say They’re Being Choked From Payment Processors

The post Mike Lee Grills Loretta Lynch on Operation Choke Point appeared first on Daily Signal.

29Jan/15Off

UVA Sorority Sisters Ordered Not to Attend Frat Parties: ‘Treating Us Like Children’

House BunnyYet more evidence that modern American
college campuses truly are bastions of creeping
Neo-Victorianism
: The national organization governing
sororities, the National Panhellenic Conference, actually ordered
its 16 chapters at the University of Virginia to stay away from
Boys' Bid Night last weekend. Bid Night is one of the biggest
fraternity parties of the the year, and the NPC was evidently
concerned about girls' safety, given that frats are often assumed
to be hotbeds of sexual assault (although the most egregious
example of this at UVA has been debunked.)

The NPC is a private club, and is within its rights to
infantilize its members, I suppose. Still, it deserves harsh
criticism for promoting the alarmist notion that all college girls
are in constant danger of being raped, as well as placing
restrictions on them that are fairly obviously sexist. I fully
support the decision made by some sorority sisters to flout the
decree,
according to Bloomberg
:

“They are treating us like children and punishing us for being
women,” said Whitney Rosser, a senior from Lynchburg, Virginia, and
a member of Alpha Phi. “We’re angry because we are being told we
are not allowed to go out instead of addressing the deeper issue of
why sexual assault happens.”

The movement to prevent assault is now dividing women on college
campuses. The sorority protest in Charlottesville evokes the late
1960s, when women battled college administrators for social and
sexual freedom. The women’s rights movement of that time helped end
strict dorm curfews and curbs on interaction with men imposed to
protect women’s virtue.

The NPC's efforts are
right in line
with the message of a new documentary on campus
rape, The Hunting Ground, which would have us believe that
college women are antelopes in a den of lions. If the circumstances
were actually as bad as the alarmists say, of course, telling women
to stay indoors on party nights would still be a bad approach.
I certainly wouldn't want to roll back 50 years of
gender progress, even if the danger was real. But keep in mind that
the resurgence of neo-Victorianism at campuses nationwide is
largely due to
bad numbers
; at UVA specifically, a discredited story is to
blame. There is no good reason to impose antiquated, sexist,
infantilizing restrictions on college students.

In response to mountingly intrusive attempts to protect women
from rape—such as affirmative consent, and UVA's
new rules for fraternities
—I've jokingly remarked, what's
next, chastity belts?
Now I'm worried that some college
administrator is going to think I was giving advice.

29Jan/15Off

Congressional Dems Propose New Food-Safety Super Agency

Congressional Democrats are
proposing a new federal agency dedicated exclusively to food
safety
. The Safe Food Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Rosa
DeLauro (Conn.) and Sen. Richard Durbin (Ill.) Wednesday, would
create a new "Food Safety Administration" to set and enforce
regulations. DeLauro, Durbin, and friends say creating the new
agency would actually save money and cut down on bureaucracy, as
there are currently 15 agencies with some role in food-safety
rulemaking and enforcement. "The fragmented Federal food safety
system and outdated laws preclude an integrated, system-wide
approach to preventing foodborne illness," their bill states. 

Fragmented as it may be, however, the vast majority of food
safety authority still lies with the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), though the Department of Agriculture oversees meat, poultry,
and egg safety. I have no love for the FDA, which generally seems
more interested in empire-building, extortion, protecting the
status quo, and promoting the interests of big pharmaceutical
companies and agribusiness than actually helping bring the best,
safest drugs, food, and devices to market. But I'm also skeptical
that simply transferring authority from the FDA to a new, even more
powerful agency would help things out. And I'm equally skeptical
that the new agency would really replace all these other
oversight bodies, rather than serve as an addition. 

"The stated goals of integrating functions and avoiding
duplication of efforts and reducing time sound good," writes Patricia Lee, a senior fellow at
Independent Women's Forum. "But what is the likelihood that all of
these agencies would cede their authority to this new agency
though? And let's not gloss over the fact that they have yet to
give us a price tag for creating this new agency." 

Allegedly, the Food Safety Administration would take over all
responsibility for "the food safety, labeling, inspection, and
enforcement functions that ... are performed by other Federal
agencies." But elsewhere the bill says the new agency would be
charged with "coordination and prioritization of food safety
research and education programs with other Federal agencies" as
well as coordination "with other agencies and State or local
governments in carrying out inspection, enforcement, research, and
monitoring." That's a bit confusing.  

The Government Accountability Office has previously reported on
the need for better food safety coordination, and some of the
fragmentation does seem silly. Rep. DeLauro points out

One agency manages the health of hens, another oversees the feed
that they eat, another sets egg quality standards but does not test
them for Salmonella. While still in its shell, the egg is the
responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration, but once it’s
processed into an egg product, it becomes the responsibility of
Food Safety and Inspection Service.

But couldn't lawmakers consolidate food-safety responsibilities
without creating a whole new federal agency?

It seems the Food Safety Administration is something of a white
whale for Durbin and DeLauro—they've introduced similar legislation
four times, in 1999, 2004, 2005, and 2007. With Republicans now in
control, it seems their effort this time may end up like the
others. But "if the committees don't take it seriously," Durbin said he'll try to tack it on as an
amendment to other legislation.

29Jan/15Off

Senate Hearing: Four Surface Transportation Policies Worth Knowing About

The latest bailout of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) expires at the end of May, so the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee called a hearing to discuss the reauthorization of the federal highway and transit programs funded through the trust fund. Conspicuously absent from the discussion were calls to eliminate wasteful spending in reliable ways and to rededicate driver user fees (federal gas and diesel taxes) to road and bridge programs that benefit drivers. Nothing was said about refocusing the federal role in surface transportation policy in favor of increased state, local, and private-sector control.

Instead there were countless calls for more “critical” federal investment (read: spending) in “vital” infrastructure projects, such as transit systems. How fascinating. As the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards notes, private-sector, not government, spending overwhelmingly dominates when it comes to factories, cell towers, freight rail, and refineries and pipelines. With that model, users pay for what they get.

Yet vocal special interest groups for transit, bicycles, trolley cars, and rail—users who do not pay into the system—have needled their way into the Highway Trust Fund, which provides most federal funding for highway and transit programs. This dangerous policy of transit-oriented development and three others discussed in the hearing are laid out below with the conservative solution to each:

  • Do we need more transit-oriented development? Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx says transit stations “capture the imagination of real estate developers.” Since when is generating business for private companies a government responsibility? In fact, transit systems are monopolistic and expensive to build and operate. They have not delivered on their promises to reduce traffic congestion. It’s time to end the massive federal subsidies to local transit authorities.
  • Should Congress fund “Complete Streets”? Outfitting community roads with sidewalks, roundabouts, crosswalks, and transit stops is purely a local priority, not a federal one. Congress is distracted by such local activities, and the depleted HTF shows it. Federal gas taxes should go to fund the interstate highway system, which was the whole point of the federal-aid highway program and the gas tax.
  • How can states get more “bang for their [transportation] buck”? Secretary Foxx forgot to mention reforms to or repeal of the Davis–Bacon Act, which unnecessarily increases transportation project costs because of its union wage requirements. Bureaucratic changes to accelerate project timelines can only go so far and will take years to implement.
  • Is repatriation, a gas tax increase, or an infrastructure bank the funding solution? Congress has a spending problem in the HTF, not a revenue problem. Billions of gas tax dollars (between 25 percent and 30 percent) are diverted annually from general-purpose roads to low-priority, local activities. Congress has no business asking drivers to pay higher taxes when it has shown such abysmal stewardship of the money entrusted to it. Repatriation of corporate revenue would mean a departure from the user pays, user benefits system that holds lawmakers accountable. An infrastructure bank would duplicate existing federal financing tools, let Washington bureaucrats make people’s transportation decisions, and require higher taxes or borrowing for funding.

Republican lawmakers said they want to get something done on transportation this year. They owe it to the American people, who expect to have a safe, reliable transportation network, to get that “something” right.

The post Senate Hearing: Four Surface Transportation Policies Worth Knowing About appeared first on Daily Signal.

29Jan/15Off

Why ‘Parenthood’ Was the Best Show On Television

Tonight, the series finale of one of my favorite shows of all time — “Parenthood” — airs.

It’s a show that has touched my heart and proved that Americans still have an affinity for family values, morality and doing the right thing even when it’s hard.

You won’t see many shows or movies these days that tackle the realities of family life in the gritty, authentic way that “Parenthood” does. For the past six seasons, the Braverman family of “Parenthood” has faced a variety of hardships that require compromise, forgiveness and unconditional love.

The way the show has elevated family — and all the chaos that comes with it — is a refreshing rarity in today’s line up of superficial sitcoms and reality TV.

These days, you won’t see onscreen parents reconciling, despite  vehement disagreements, because they respect one another enough for one of them to give up being right. You won’t see marriages being put back together — or fathers  committing to the mother of the child they didn’t know they had for years.

You won’t see principled fathers handling their children’s issues with rationality and maturity in the face of chaos. You won’t see two parents working together to find a genuinely good solution for their disabled child — even when that solution isn’t perfect or ideal.

You won’t see a marriage on the edge of crumbling, saved on the brink, even though it’s hard, even though it hurts — because the spouses realize their children deserve better, their vows deserve more.

The story of married characters Joel and Julia has been one of the most heartwrenching over the last two seasons. Viewers watched as the two dealt with painful issues, as feelings changed and as bad decisions were made. Refreshingly, no character actually had an affair prior to their separation, but there was a lost of trust, bitterness and heartbreak. You can see clearly that those who suffered most were their two children, thrust into the middle of a painful separation.

Julia and Joel. (Photo: NBC Parenthood Facebook)

Julia and Joel. (Photo: NBC Parenthood Facebook)

In the end, Joel and Julia reconcile and decide to stay together. Their very real hurt and interaction is true to life and the struggles that married couples deal with everyday. Unlike in most TV shows and movies, they take the hard road and make their marriage a priority, honoring their vows.

In another storyline this season, 20-year-old Amber becomes pregnant unexpectedly. She chooses to have her baby–despite an absent ex-boyfriend. In the last episode, Amber, 9 months pregnant, tells her mom she’s scared. “What if,” she asks, “having this baby was a mistake?”

Her mom, Sarah, who raised Amber and her brother on her own, responds, “When you hold the baby…something happens and I can almost guarantee you, you won’t feel like it’s a mistake then.”

On “Parenthood,” they’ve dealt with breast cancer, teenage pregnancy, Asperger’s Syndrome, home schooling, drug problems, bad relationships, struggling marriages at every stage, absent fathers, sibling rivalry, problem parents at school, the temptation of infidelity, in-laws, adoption, infertility, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, step-kids, bullying and more.

The show didn’t depict soap-opera drama. Instead, it showed real life — portrayed through the lens of imperfect, good people trying to do the right thing. Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do, too?

Sometimes they failed. Sometimes they overcame. But it was never nicely packaged or showcased in a way that felt superficial. It felt like you could go through this kind of thing and maybe, you too could do what was right in the end.

Never did we see an action without a consequence or feel undervalued for our investment in this family. What the series did show was that even when things are hard, even when a family member hurts you, even when it doesn’t turn out the way you think it should — you stand by your principles, you choose to forgive, you be the best you can be despite it all.

Photo: NBC Parenthood Facebook

Photo: NBC Parenthood Facebook

You remember, in the end, that this one family you have is the one you get — and they are worth forgiving even though they’re the ones that can hurt you most.

I started watching “Parenthood” at the suggestion of my grandma, a strong Christian woman who wasn’t much into TV drama. She liked to watch reruns of “Little House on the Prairie” and listen to Kenneth Copeland sermons on TV. My grandma died in October and I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk anymore about our favorite show, that she missed the ending of a family she too had come to love.

But when I watch the ‘Parenthood’ finale tonight, I will  think of  her and how she’s showed me that family is the most precious thing, that marriages are worth fighting for, that every person is fighting a hard battle (we must remember!) and that someday, parenthood will be the best thing that ever happens to me.

The post Why ‘Parenthood’ Was the Best Show On Television appeared first on Daily Signal.

29Jan/15Off

NBC Correspondent Accuses ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle of Going on ‘Killing Sprees’

In a segment on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today, NBC foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin described Chris Kyle, whose life is depicted in “American Sniper,” as going on “killing sprees.”

Discussing Kyle, Mohyeldin talked about “how he viewed Iraqis, some of what people have described  as his racist tendencies towards Iraqis and Muslims as he was going on some of these, you know, killing sprees in Iraq on assignment.”

The post NBC Correspondent Accuses ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle of Going on ‘Killing Sprees’ appeared first on Daily Signal.

29Jan/15Off

Seattle to Levy Fines for Throwing Food Waste in Garbage

Modern liberalism is unlike earlier forms of oligarchical collectivist totalitarianism (Nazism, communism, etc.) not only because of its trademark nauseating sanctimony, but because it is more complete. There is no

29Jan/15Off

Owner of Muslim-Free Gun Range Jan Morgan Holds Firm Against CAIR, ACLU

A little follow-up on Jan Morgan, who for sensible reasons (see here and here) has banned Muslims from her business The Gun Cave: In the five months since Hot Springs,

29Jan/15Off

NBC Reporter Says American Sniper Chris Kyle Was A Racist On ‘Killing Sprees’ In Middle East

Keep in mind that this is MSNBC, but the reporter, Ayman Mohyeldin, is supposedly a straight news correspondent – the foreign affairs correspondent mind you – for NBC News.

A lot of stories about when he was back home in Texas. A lot of his own personal opinions about what he was doing in Iraq, how he viewed Iraqis, what some people described as his racist tendencies toward Iraqis and Muslims as he was going on some of these, you know, killing sprees in Iraq on assignment. I think there are issues.”

Unbelievably, Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist did not let this characterization stand. Geist even clarified (after above clip) that when Kyle used the term savages, he was referring specifically to those people he was targeting and not, as Mohyeldin put it, all Iraqis and muslims.

Scarborough also brings up a point, which I also addressed here, that using derogatory language toward the enemy you are trying to kill and who is trying to kill you in a war is not exactly new or surprising. In fact, it isn’t really news at all. It lends no context. If this were an episode of Law & Order I’d be waiting to hear some defense attorney call it “prejudicial”. It’s not relevant to his mission that he said “savages” about anybody. He wasn’t just walking the streets shooting people at random. These were military missions. As I said at RabbleWriter, Chris Kyle “went to war, he did what was required of him, what we required of him, and he did it both within the bounds of the law and the scope of our operations. He did it bravely and very well.” That is all the “context” that is required.

What Kyle did not do was go on “killing sprees.” It’s a truly outrageous accusation from a truly offensive “reporter” on the most truly untruthful network on television.

h/t Truth Revolt


Find Caleb at RabbleWriter.com or on Twitter @CalebHowe.

The post NBC Reporter Says American Sniper Chris Kyle Was A Racist On ‘Killing Sprees’ In Middle East appeared first on RedState.

29Jan/15Off

The State Department Hosts a Delegation of Muslim Brotherhood-Tied Leaders Who Are Trying To Oust the Egyptian Government

I’m not surprised in the least at this development. Obama has supported the Muslim Brotherhood and invited them directly into the White House from day one. Kerry hearts them as

29Jan/15Off

Perhaps there is hope for Humanity’s moral destiny after all!

In my latest book, “A ‘Final Theory’ of God”, I made these comments in the final chapter regarding my purpose for the book:
“The task of A ‘Final Theory’ of God is to awaken the human spirit to its true moral purpose, and its true moral destiny.
“It aspires to awaken in humanity, and especially in those who hold in their hands the power and resources to influence the course of government, science, philosophy, and religion, the moral purpose and destiny that is ‘written’ in our hearts, and in our minds, so that humanity can shake off the shackles of bondage to our primitive instincts and work towards a new vision. A vision true to humanity’s moral purpose and destiny: a model of government and justice that reflects the Universal Moral Law.
“It urges science to re-tool its energies and investigations to the discovery and explanation of the link between the laws of physics, chemistry and biology, and the moral aptitude of the human organism to recognize the laws of morality that are embedded in our minds. Sir Robert Winston has made a start with his recognition of a “morality module” in man, but the task is immense. The focus must be re-orientated to make the connection between the fundamental laws of physics, and the fundamental principles of the “moral law”, and the curious human ability to ‘see’ those laws.
“Instead of tearing apart the very notion of a moral purpose to the human species, science should set itself to explaining why that moral purpose won’t be silenced.
“A ‘Final Theory’ of God provides a ‘brief’ to philosophers, jurists, politicians and political scientists, theologians, and economists, to apply themselves to the task of interpreting and implementing humanity’s moral destiny in cooperation with scientists. Each must inform and learn from the other. Vanity must be overcome, and discipline-centric research set aside. The goal must be clear – reinvigorate the human spirit in its true moral purpose, and set humanity on course to fulfill its cosmic destiny.
“Nothing could be more important.
“Before we venture out into the far reaches of the cosmos, let us prepare a gift for whomever and whatever we may find out there; a gift we set by example right here on Earth. Let us not be a cosmic Columbus, visiting upon the universe death and destruction, oppression and hate, strife and discord, greed and indulgence. We must be a beacon of light, not a harbinger of death.”
But after publishing the book, I feared that science would lead us down the road to a ‘Final Theory’ of Despair.
Then I awoke this morning to an article that gave me hope. Of all places, I found it on my Twitter page. A Follower had posted this link: http://phys.org/news/2015-01-explores-universe-morality.html#jCp
It referenced Dr Kelly Smith of Clemson University, a Philosopher and Evolutionary Biologist, who suggests that the tendency of the universe to naturally produce complexity has distinctly religious overtones and may even establish a truly universal basis for morality.
Now that is essentially the argument of my book.
However, there are some areas in which Dr Smith and I may disagree at present, especially as to whether a moral dimension to the laws of physics suggests a Supreme Lawmaker, but at least there is a glimmer of light from the scientific community. We may also disagree on the role and significance of ‘reason’ – I consider it to be a highly over-rated commodity. For those who claim it, it is like “banging on the table” (Alf Ross, in respect of Justice).
But what I found very encouraging about Dr Smith’s hypothesis is his understanding of how the moral dimension to the laws of the universe may relate to other life in the universe – if there be such a thing.
According to the article,
“[Dr] Smith feels another similarity to religion is the potential moral implications of this idea. If evolution tends to favor the development of sociality, reason, and culture as a kind of “package deal”, then it’s a good bet that any smart extraterrestrials we encounter will have similar evolved attitudes about their basic moral commitments.
“In particular, they will likely agree with us that there is something morally special about rational, social creatures. And such universal agreement, argues Smith, could be the foundation for a truly universal system of ethics.”
Now, I may disagree with certain elements of what has been ascribed to Dr Smith, but I can agree with the effect a universal moral law would have. This is what I say in the very first chapter of my book regarding extraterrestrial intelligence:
“If the Laws of Physics and the Laws of Morality are the same thing, and as we shall see that is exactly what the evidence suggests, then Stephen Hawking will have nothing to fear from aliens. If the Principles constituting a Final Theory of the universe also turn out to be the Principles of a ‘Final Theory’ of morality, the one thing we could be fairly sure of is that if aliens had mastered the physical Principles so as to be able to traverse the universe, they would also have mastered the moral Principles – because they would be one and the same. So rather than embarking on a Columbus-style subjugation and extermination of the human race, as Hawking fears, the aliens would more likely school us in the error of our ways and divert our ability to reason away from a frantic and fanatical servicing of our primitive carnal instincts and bring it into the service of the Principles of morality.”
Where scientists, philosophers and theologians will go with this is yet to be seen. But I find Dr Smith’s direction of research most encouraging.
Hopefully others will take up the challenge.

Joseph BH McMillan is the author of “A ‘Final Theory’ of God” and “Freedom v A Tyranny of Rights” – http://josephbhmcmillan.com
Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2015 All Rights ReservedImagebook

29Jan/15Off

School Choice Week: America’s teachers have better options than the NEA or AFT

2014-09-18 School Teacher

In case you missed it, this week is National School Choice Week. While this post is slightly off the topic of school choice, as most know, many of America’s teachers think they have no choice when it comes to unions–when, in fact, they do.

Unaware that they have alternatives like the Association of American Educators to purchase liability insurance, many teachers across the nation become members of unions like the NEA or AFT because they are tricked into believing there are no other alternatives.

Once in, both the NEA and AFT spend much of their dues pushing ideological agendas that many teachers do not support.

As a result, teachers often spend hundreds or thousands of dollars per year on union dues, when they could find much more cost effective alternatives on both insurance, as well as grievance representation.

One Michigan teacher explains why and how he and his fellow teachers decertified the National Education Association (NEA) to the Commonwealth Foundation:

Michigan teacher Jim Perialas has an unusual story. In 2012 his school, Roscommon Area School District, became the first in decades to decertify (or leave) the state-wide Michigan Education Association (MEA) and the National Education Association (NEA) to form a local-only, independent union.

Jim readily admits he’s not anti-union, “unions do good and bad things . . . but I still think they should play a role in the workplace.” So, why did teachers at Roscommon want to leave the MEA? They were simply frustrated by the undemocratic, expensive, and secretive state union. “We talk about the lack of a voice . . . there is a so-called democratic process, but really it’s not,” explains Jim.

[snip]

Today, members of the independent Roscommon Teachers Association have seen their dues decrease from $980 to $600 a year and members still have access to grievance support and other services. Most importantly, members have local control and can clearly see how their money is being spent. [Emphasis added.]

Listen to Jim explain his experiences here:


____________________
“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com

The post School Choice Week: America’s teachers have better options than the NEA or AFT appeared first on RedState.

29Jan/15Off

Sheldon Richman on Why the American Sniper Was No Hero

If Clint Eastwood's record-breaking
movie, American Sniper, launches a frank public
conversation about war and heroism, the great director will have
performed a badly needed service for the country and the world.
Despite what some people think, hero is not a synonym
forcompetent government-hired killer. Sheldon Richman's
latest column is neither a movie review nor a review of the late
Chris Kyle's autobiographical book on which the movie is based.
Richman's interest, instead, is in the popular evaluation of Kyle,
America's most prolific sniper, a title he earned through four
tours in Iraq.

View this article.

29Jan/15Off

Mother caught on camera injecting her son’s IV bag with fecal matter now faces eight years in prison [Video]

Boy, did I get it wrong. Previously, I wanted to give this mother the benefit of the doubt as her other children all seemed normal and healthy and her family

29Jan/15Off

Federal Agency Settles With Woman After Impersonating Her on Facebook, But Won’t Promise Not to Do it Again

The Drug Enforcement Agency created a fake Facebook profile of a woman and used the account to message drug dealers—all without her knowledge or consent.

Now, after facing a media firestorm and a lawsuit, the federal government will settle with the woman for $134,000.

It all began in 2010 when the DEA arrested Sondra Arquiett for the possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute it. To obtain a reduced sentence, she pled guilty and cooperated with the government by allowing them to search her phone for evidence.

The DEA, however, did far more than simply look through Arquiett’s phone for her contacts. DEA decided to impersonate Arquiett on social media to lure other members of the drug ring into contacting her.

DEA Special Agent Timothy Sinnigen used pictures of Arquiett stored on her cellphone to create a fake Facebook profile. The profile included a photograph of Arquiett holding her two young children, and a suggestive photo of her lying on the hood of a car with the caption, “At least I still have this car!”

After being told by a friend about the suspicious account with her name on it, Arquiett sued the DEA. According to her complaint, she “suffered fear and great emotional distress because, by posing as her on Facebook, Sinnigen had created the appearance that she was willfully cooperating in his investigation of the narcotics trafficking ring,” which placed her life in danger.

In response to the complaint, the Department of Justice argued that, by pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate, Arquiett had given implied consent for the officers to access and use information stored on her phone to aid ongoing criminal investigations.

But that defense is laughable. Allowing the government to search your cellphone is not tantamount to allowing the government to create a false public image of who you are or to agreeing to take life-threatening risks on the government’s behalf.

The government’s claim certainly was not enough for Facebook, Inc., which noted that creating phony profiles violates its terms of service agreement, or for the media, which rightly criticized the decision to impersonate someone without her consent.

After months of negotiation, the government decided to settle.

“This settlement demonstrates that the government is mindful of its obligation to ensure the rights of third parties are not infringed upon in the course of its efforts to bring those who commit federal crimes to justice,” Richard Hartunian, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York, said in a statement.

But perhaps what is most telling from the settlement agreement is that government did not admit any wrongdoing. Instead, it stands by its untenable argument that Arquiett impliedly consented to use the evidence found in her phone to assist law enforcement activities in any imaginable—and unimaginable—way. Moreover, the settlement does not specifically prohibit the DEA from using similar undercover tactics in the future.

That is unfortunate. Law enforcement officers frequently use social media to aid in their criminal investigations by posing as members of a drug ring in order to make contact with other crew members. But that is not what happened here.

“I may allow someone to come into my home and search but that doesn’t mean they can take the photos from my coffee table and post them online,” observed University of Pennsylvania law professor Anita Allen.

If someone consents to a search, then it should be expected that the government will view private information which they would not have had access to without your permission. What they find can be shared among law enforcement agencies, introduced as evidence during trial, and shown to opposing counsel and witnesses.

But consent to a search does not allow the government to use what they find to create a false identity of your likeness, post it on Internet social media, and make contact with drug dealers in an attempt to make an arrest.

The U.S. Supreme Court has squarely held that the police may not invite the media along on the execution of a search warrant so that the events can be broadcast on network TV. Doing so, the Court held would violate the privacy rights of the owner or occupant of the space being searched.

There is no material difference between what the DEA did in this case and what the Supreme Court expressly held that law enforcement officers cannot do. Both would violate the privacy rights of the person subjected to the search, in this case Arquiett’s rights.

DEA Special Agent Sinnigen should have known that.

The post Federal Agency Settles With Woman After Impersonating Her on Facebook, But Won’t Promise Not to Do it Again appeared first on Daily Signal.

29Jan/15Off

“The GOP’s Long Love Affair With Schmucks”

As the
silly season of Election 2016 starts cranking up, nothing is
sillier and more pathetic than the quadrennial dance of Republicans
with manifestly unqualified candidates vying for the party's
presidential nomination.

In the past, folks such as Herman Cain, whose resume boasts
management stints at two of the rottenest fast-food chains world
history, and Alan Keyes, a junior varsity ambassador to the very
United Nations that conservative Republicans love to hate, have
soaked up the spotlight in ways that boggle the mind. Does anyone
else remember the brief 2004 boomlet around Arnold Schwarzenegger,
whose year in office as California's governor hadn't yet revealed
what an awful, awful leader he was? At the time, his only
qualification for president was threatening to shove Arianna
Huffington's
head in a toilet
 and yet some Republicans floated the idea
of changing the Constitution to let the Austrian Oak occupy the
White House.

In a new
Daily Beast column
, I survey the current crop of fake
candidates who are captivating Republican events and news media.
Sarah Palin, who quit being a governor after about two-and-a-half
years, is "done," according to hard-core conservatives. The
word-salad speech she gave at the recent "Iowa Freedom Summit"
turned off the last Mama Grizzlyites. But there's still Donald
Trump (who spoke at the Iowa event and is a fixture on Fox News)
and Ben Carson in the mix.
From my piece
:

While the
GOP struggles to crack double digits in terms of votes from African
Americans, the party’s overwhelmingly white members seem to have an
unending appetite for high-profile, successful black men whose very
presence on a debate stage softens charges of hostility and
indifference to issues about race. This helps explain whyThe
Weekly Standard
 is officially “Taking Ben Carson Seriously,” as Fred Barnes’
recent cover story puts it.

Even as sycophantic and try-hard a journalist as Fred Barnes
admits that Carson has absolutely zero qualifications for and no
shot at becoming the Republican nominee. At best, the retired brain
surgeon might make a possible Surgeon General (of course, a
Republican administration truly devoted to shrinking the size,
scope, and spending of government would eliminate such a useless
position). But Barnes is game to make the case for Carson,
employing what George W. Bush once famously chided as the “soft
bigotry of low expectations.” Carson, after all, “has substantial
name identification,” avers Barnes. “He can raise money. His
poverty-to-prominence story is compelling. He has a grassroots
following. He is fluent on national issues.”

And, perhaps most important, notes Barnes, Ricky Skaggs thinks
highly of Carson: "You ask him a question and he knows how to
answer." Finally, a candidate who knows how to answer.

As it
happens, the GOP has a deep field of candidates who are serious and
plausible if not preferable. I don't agree fully with any of them
(though Rand Paul is by far the most-libertarian politician
currently serving in the Senate) but the longer Republicans and
conservatives jerk around with candidates who are slightly less
funny jokes than Pat Paulsen ever was, the more likely they are to
lose in 2016.

If history is any guide, Republicans will prevaricate as long as
possible and make goo-goo eyes at candidates who have no meaningful
experience and no real shot at winning the presidency. That’s their
right. It’s a free country after all. But the longer they wait to
get serious about vetting their party’s candidates for president,
the more they will lose support among the
independent voters who will decide the 2016 election. And if they
lose them, they will only have themselves to blame, regardless of
who the Democrats put up to run.


Read the full article here.