Thursday, April 30, 2015
Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul tangled with a top Obama administration official Wednesday on the matter of protecting data privacy through encryption.
The Kentucky senator questioned Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on the bulk collection of phone records, and argued that consumers’ desire for encryption is a response to government surveillance.
“The real culprit is government,” Paul said during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing.
“You’ve been so overzealous vacuuming up our records without a legitimate warrant … [Encryption] is a response to a government that didn’t have a real sense of decency toward privacy.”
Paul also criticized the government for surveillance during the civil rights era, which he described as a cautionary tale.
“Look at the time the government wasn’t so good. The FBI director recently pointed back and talked about the times that Martin Luther King was spied upon. That’s why we want these procedural protections,” he said.
Johnson, who has been making the rounds in tech circles arguing against full encryption, declined to weigh in on bulk data collection but urged Congress to act.
“I’m in favor of a balanced solution to the [encryption] problem,” he said, adding that encrypting records makes it harder to conduct criminal investigations. “I think it’s something we need to address.”
Johnson spoke to a major cybersecurity conference in San Francisco last week, where his stance on encryption was ridiculed by tech experts. “I wasn’t real popular for doing that,” he said of his speech.
Sen. Rand Paul Reintroduces Constitutional Amendment Requiring Congress to Live by the Laws it Passes
Sen. Rand Paul today reintroduced a Constitutional amendment that would hold Congress to the same standard as the American people by requiring all laws to apply to Congress, just as they do to ordinary Americans. The legislation similarly contains two provisions that would apply this same principle of accountability to the Executive Branch and Judicial Branch of the federal government.
“I oppose allowing Congress to exempt themselves from any legislation. To that end, today, I reintroduced a Constitutional amendment that would prohibit Congress from passing any law that exempts themselves,” Sen. Paul said.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
The Clinton Foundation’s finances are so messy that the nation’s most influential charity watchdog put it on its “watch list” of problematic nonprofits last month.
The Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid.
The group spent the bulk of its windfall on administration, travel, and salaries and bonuses, with the fattest payouts going to family friends.
On its 2013 tax forms, the most recent available, the foundation claimed it spent $30 million on payroll and employee benefits; $8.7 million in rent and office expenses; $9.2 million on “conferences, conventions and meetings”; $8 million on fundraising; and nearly $8.5 million on travel. None of the Clintons is on the payroll, but they do enjoy first-class flights paid for by the foundation.
In all, the group reported $84.6 million in “functional expenses” on its 2013 tax return and had more than $64 million left over — money the organization has said represents pledges rather than actual cash on hand.
Some of the tens of millions in administrative costs finance more than 2,000 employees, including aid workers and health professionals around the world.
But that’s still far below the 75 percent rate of spending that nonprofit experts say a good charity should spend on its mission.
Charity Navigator, which rates nonprofits, recently refused to rate the Clinton Foundation because its “atypical business model . . . doesn’t meet our criteria.”
Charity Navigator put the foundation on its “watch list,” which warns potential donors about investing in problematic charities. The 23 charities on the list include the Rev. Al Sharpton’s troubled National Action Network, which is cited for failing to pay payroll taxes for several years.
Other nonprofit experts are asking hard questions about the Clinton Foundation’s tax filings in the wake of recent reports that the Clintons traded influence for donations.
“It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons,” said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group where progressive Democrat and Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout was once an organizing director.
In July 2013, Eric Braverman, a friend of Chelsea Clinton from when they both worked at McKinsey & Co., took over as CEO of the Clinton Foundation. He took home nearly $275,000 in salary, benefits and a housing allowance from the nonprofit for just five months’ work in 2013, tax filings show. Less than a year later, his salary increased to $395,000, according to a report in Politico.
Nine other executives received salaries over $100,000 in 2013, tax filings show.
The secrecy surrounding the National Security Agency’s post-9/11 warrantless surveillance and bulk data collection program hampered its effectiveness, and many members of the intelligence community later struggled to identify any specific terrorist attacks it thwarted, a newly declassified document shows.
The document is a lengthy report on a once secret N.S.A. program code-named Stellarwind. The report was a joint project in 2009 by inspectors general for five intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and it was withheld from the public at the time, although a short, unclassified version was made public. The government released a redacted version of the full report to The New York Times on Friday evening in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
Shortly after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush secretly told the N.S.A. that it could wiretap Americans’ international phone calls and collect bulk data about their phone calls and emails without obeying the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Over time, Stellarwind’s legal basis evolved, and pieces of it emerged into public view, starting with an article in The Times about warrantless wiretapping in 2005.
The report amounts to a detailed history of the program. While significant parts remain classified, it includes some new information. For example, it explains how the Bush administration came to tell the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, Royce C. Lamberth, about the program’s existence in early 2002.
James A. Baker, then the Justice Department’s top intelligence lawyer, had not been told about the program. But he came across “strange, unattributed” language in an application for an ordinary surveillance warrant and figured it out, then insisted on telling Judge Lamberth. Mr. Baker is now the general counsel to the F.B.I.
In 2003, after Mr. Yoo left the government, other Justice Department officials read his secret memo approving the program — most of which has not been made public — and concluded that it was flawed.
Among other things, the report said, Mr. Yoo’s reasoning was premised on the assumption that the surveillance act, which requires warrants for national security wiretaps, did not expressly apply to wartime situations. His memo did not mention that a provision of that law explains how it applies in war: The warrant rule is suspended for the first 15 days of a war.
The report has new details about a dramatic episode in March 2004, when several Justice Department officials confronted Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel at the time, in the hospital room of Mr. Ashcroft over the legality of the program. The officials included Mr. Thompson’s successor as deputy attorney general, James B. Comey, who is now the F.B.I. director, and the new head of the office where Mr. Yoo had worked, Jack Goldsmith.
The showdown prompted Mr. Bush to make two or three changes to Stellarwind, the report said. But while the report gives a blow-by-blow account of the bureaucratic fight, it censors an explanation of the substance of the legal dispute and Mr. Bush’s changes.
Last year, the Obama administration released a redacted version of a memo that Mr. Goldsmith later wrote about Stellarwind and similarly censored important details.
Nevertheless, it is public knowledge, because of documents leaked by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden, that one part of the dispute concerned the legality of the component of Stellarwind that collected bulk records about Americans’ emails.
Mr. Snowden’s disclosures included a working draft version of the N.S.A. inspector general’s contribution to this report, roughly 50 pages long. The final document — with many passages redacted as still classified — was part of Friday’s release.
Another part of the newly disclosed report provides an explanation for a change in F.B.I. rules during the Bush administration. Previously, F.B.I. agents had only two types of cases: “preliminary” and “full” investigations. But the Bush administration created a third, lower-level type called an “assessment.”
This development, it turns out, was a result of Stellarwind. F.B.I. agents were asked to scrutinize phone numbers deemed suspicious because of information from the program. But the agents were not told why the numbers had been deemed suspicious, only “not to use the information in legal or judicial proceedings.”
That made some agents uncomfortable, and it was not clear how such mysterious leads fit into their rules for investigations. The Justice Department created the new type of investigation, initially called a “threat assessment,” which could be opened with lower-grade tips. Agents now use them tens of thousands of times a year.
But little came of the Stellarwind tips. In 2004, the F.B.I. looked at a sampling of all the tips to see how many had made a “significant contribution” to identifying a terrorist, deporting a terrorism suspect, or developing a confidential informant about terrorists.
Just 1.2 percent of the tips from 2001 to 2004 had made such a contribution. Two years later, the F.B.I. reviewed all the leads from the warrantless wiretapping part of Stellarwind between August 2004 and January 2006.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
One of the great ironies of American politics is that most politicians who talk about helping the middle class support policies that, by expanding the welfare-warfare state, are harmful to middle-class Americans. Eliminating the welfare-warfare state would benefit middle class Americans by freeing them from exorbitant federal taxes, including the Federal Reserve’s inflation tax.
Politicians serious about helping middle-class Americans should allow individuals to opt out of Social Security and Medicare by not having to pay payroll taxes if they agree to never accept federal retirement or health care benefits. Individuals are quite capable of meeting their own unique retirement and health care needs if the government stops forcing them into one-size-fits-all plans.
Middle class families with college-age children would benefit if government got out of the student loan business. Government involvement in higher education is the main reason tuition is skyrocketing and so many Americans are graduating with huge student loan debts. College graduates entering the job market would certainly benefit if Congress stopped imposing destructive regulations and taxes on the economy.
Politicians who support an interventionist foreign policy are obviously not concerned with the harm inflicted on the middle class populations of countries targeted for regime change. These politicians also disregard the harm US foreign policy inflicts on Americans. Middle- and working-class Americans, and their families, who join the military certainly suffer when they are maimed or killed fighting in unjust and unconstitutional wars. Our interventionist foreign policy also contributes to the high tax burden imposed on middle class Americans.
Middle class Americans also suffer from intrusions on their liberty and privacy, such as not being able to board an airplane unless they submit to invasive and humiliating searches. Even children and the physically disabled are not safe from the Transposition Security Administration. These assaults are justified by the threat of terrorism, a direct result of our interventionist foreign policy that fosters hatred and resentment of Americans.
Some “military Keynesians” claim that middle class workers benefit from jobs in the military-industrial complex. Military Keynesians seem to think that the resources spent on militarism would disappear if the Pentagon’s budget were cut. The truth is, if we reduced spending on militarism, those currently employed by the military-industrial complex would be able to find new jobs producing goods desired by consumers. Even those currently employed as lobbyists for the military-industrial complex may be able to find useful work.
Few things would benefit the middle class more than ending the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies erode middle class families’ standards of living while benefiting the financial and political elites. Middle class Americans may gain some temporary benefits from Federal Reserve created booms, but they also suffer from the inevitable busts.
As I write this, the dollar still reigns as the world’s reserve currency. However, there are signs that other economies are moving away from using the dollar as the reserve currency, and this trend will accelerate as the Federal Reserve continues to pump more fiat currency into the economy and as resentment toward our foreign policy grows. Eventually, international investors will lose confidence in the US economy, the dollar will lose its reserve currency status, and the dollar bubble will burst.
These events will cause a major economic downturn that may even be worse than the Great Depression. The main victims of this crisis will be average Americans. The only way to avoid this calamity is for the American people to force Congress to free them from the burdens of the warfare state, the welfare state, taxation, and fiat currency.
Mark Brewer is a decorated Air Force veteran who fought in the global war on terror. But last month, he became a casualty in the drug war.
In late March, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government could take more than $60,000 of Brewer’s cash with civil forfeiture, even though he was never charged with a crime. The decision lets many Midwestern states continue to take property from people who have done nothing wrong.
A former military police officer and weapons specialist, Brewer earned several medals during his service in the Air Force, before he was medically discharged in 2008. Brewer said he developed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder after a deployment in Afghanistan.
In November 2011, Brewer was driving on Interstate 80 in Nebraska, when Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Wintle pulled Brewer over for crossing traffic lanes without signaling. During the stop, Wintle performed a criminal background check, which “revealed no major violations.”
After gaining Brewer’s consent, Wintle walked around the car with a canine unit; the dog alerted to the trunk. When he searched the trunk, Wintle found two backpacks that had a “strong odor of raw marijuana” and $63,530 in cash.
Brewer said he was travelling to Los Angles to visit his uncle and planned to use the money as a down payment for a house. According to Brewer, he had been saving that cash during his military service and from disability payments. Wintle did not believe his story, so Brewer’s cash was seized and his car was towed.
YOU’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE….
A wonderful new store has opened in the little town of Castle Rock, Maine. Whatever your heart’s secret desire—sexual pleasure, wealth, power, or even more precious things—it’s for sale. And even though every item has a nerve-shattering price, the owner is always ready to make a bargain.
In this chilling novel by one of the most potent imaginations of our time, evil is on a shopping spree and out to scare you witless.
Monday, April 27, 2015
The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien's three-volume epic, is set in the imaginary world of Middle-earth - home to many strange beings, and most notably hobbits, a peace-loving "little people," cheerful and shy. Since its original British publication in 1954-55, the saga has entranced readers of all ages. It is at once a classic myth and a modern fairy tale. Critic Michael Straight has hailed it as one of the "very few works of genius in recent literature." Middle-earth is a world receptive to poets, scholars, children, and all other people of good will. Donald Barr has described it as "a scrubbed morning world, and a ringing nightmare world...especially sunlit, and shadowed by perils very fundamental, of a peculiarly uncompounded darkness." The story of ths world is one of high and heroic adventure. Barr compared it to Beowulf, C.S. Lewis to Orlando Furioso, W.H. Auden to The Thirty-nine Steps. In fact the saga is sui generis - a triumph of imagination which springs to life within its own framework and on its own terms.
In May of last year, Bounkham “Baby Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, 19-months-old, was asleep in his crib. At 3:00 am militarized police barged into his family’s home because an informant had purchased $50 worth of meth from someone who once lived there. During the raid, a flash-bang grenade was thrown into the sleeping baby’s crib, exploding in his face.
Beyond the disfiguring wounds on the toddler’s face, the grenade also left a gash in his chest. As a result, Bou lost the ability to breathe on his own and was left in a medically induced coma for days after the incident. Bou was not able to go home from the hospital until July.
No officers were charged for their near-deadly negligence, and the department claimed that they did not know that there were children in the home. They defended their reckless actions by saying that they couldn’t have done a thorough investigation prior to the raid because it “would have risked revealing that the officers were watching the house.”
Now, a nearly $1 million dollar settlement has been reached between the family and the county. One of the terms of the settlement is that the family may not sue individuals involved in maiming their son. Instead of coming from the wallets of the negligent officers, it will come strictly from the taxpayers.
Medical bills for the treatment of Bou’s injuries are expected to reach $1 million dollars.
In Los Angeles, settlements to resolve lawsuits against the LAPD amount to over one billion dollars a year. Across the country in New York City, a lawsuit is filed every two and a half hours against the NYPD. They are sued so often, in fact, that the city comptroller, Scott Stringer, said that the 2015 budget would have to include $674 million dollars for settlements and judgments against the police. The budget allotted for police negligence and misconduct is more than the budget for the Parks Department, Department of Aging, and the New York Public Library combined.
Presidential contender Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been getting criticized pretty heavily by his peers in the establishment wing of the GOP for his policy positions — some of them the same policy positions that just earned him a Constitutional Champion prize from The Constitution Project.
The 2016 presidential candidate received the award from the political watchdog group dedicated to fighting the erosion of Americans’ constitutionally protected civil liberties.
Ginny Sloan, who serves as president of The Constitution Project, wrote of Paul in a Huffington Post piece: “Sen. Paul has … been a vocal critic of NSA spying. He introduced legislation declaring that ‘the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution shall not be construed to allow any U.S. government agency to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause,’ and has made it clear that he will vote against any extension of the Patriot Act provisions expiring in June.”
Sloan also noted: “Sen. Paul is an ardent defender of the constitutional principle of separation of powers. Along with Sen Tim Kaine (D-Va.), he has been outspoken in his insistence that the Obama administration seek authorization from Congress in order to carry out military actions against Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq, disputing the assertion that the president as commander-in-chief could act alone. Finally, six months after the airstrikes began, President Obama submitted a request for war authority to Congress, and the Senate is expected to take up the issue in the coming weeks.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lashed out against Paul Wednesday on Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” calling the Kentucky lawmaker “the worst possible candidate” on foreign policy.
So who does McCain think is the best candidate?
“Lindsey Graham. Lindsey Graham. First, last and always,” he said.
Funny, Paul mentioned Graham without saying his name during his acceptance speech Wednesday.
“One unapologetic senator, who I’ve had a few rounds with, said if you’re not talking to terrorists, why are you worried?” Paul said. “He goes on to say that he would censor the mail, if he could. Really? This senator goes on to say that if you’re an American citizen, and you ask for a lawyer, you just tell ‘em to shut up. Really? Have we stooped so low that that is our standard? If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear? It’s a long way from innocent until proven guilty.”
Friday, April 24, 2015
MegaCon's Universal Costume contest with categories including Movie/TV Character, Super Hero/Villain, Star Wars, Video Game Character, etc. Don't miss some of the best costumes you will ever see. Watch as 100 contestants show off their amazing costumes to compete for trophies and prizes.
The Senate’s top five Republican leaders have cosponsored legislation to extend until 2017 the Obamacare insurance subsidies that may be struck down by the Supreme Court this summer.
The legislation, offered by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), one of the most politically vulnerable Senate incumbents in 2016, would maintain the federal HealthCare.gov tax credits at stake in King v. Burwell through the end of August 2017.
The bill was unveiled this week with 29 other cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his four top deputies, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). Another cosponsor is Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the chairman of the conference’s electoral arm.
Such a move would seek to protect the GOP from political peril in the 2016 elections when Democrats would try to blame the party for stripping subsidies — and maybe insurance coverage — from millions of Americans in three dozen states. A defeat for the Obama administration in a King ruling would likely create havoc across insurance markets and pose a huge problem for Republicans, many of whom have been pushing the Supreme Court to nix the subsidies.
“This bill is a first step toward reversing the damage that Obamacare has inflicted on the American health care system,” Johnson said.
He recently explained the rationale for the legislation, warning that Democrats would swarm the GOP with attacks and horror stories about “individuals that have benefited from Obamacare” and lost their coverage.
Democrats would probably demand a fix to make the subsidies permanently available if they go down. But they would be hard-pressed to vote down a bill to temporarily extend them if Republicans were to bring it up.
The Johnson bill also contains sweeteners for conservatives which are non-starters for Democrats — it would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate and employer mandate, and remove federal rules requiring that insurance plans cover a minimum package of “essential health benefits.” If those provisions are ultimately stripped, though, the legislation could have legs.
That said, if the Supreme Court upholds the subsidies, Obamacare would continue to be implemented as is.
Four of Richard Bachman's eerie works are gathered here in a posthumous edition. They are Rage, a story of stunning psychological horror about an "estra" ordinary high school student; "The Long Walk," a contest with death; "Roadwork, a strange variation on the theme of "Home Sweet Home"; and "The Running Man," where you bet your life--literally.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday night to reauthorize a portion of the Patriot Act that allows the National Security Agency to sweep up call records on millions of Americans until 2020.
McConnell began the process of placing the bill on the Senate calendar Tuesday night under Rule 14, which allows the legislation to skip committee markup.
The bill, cosponsored by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, “extend[s] authority relating to roving surveillance, access to business records, and individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and for other purposes.”
Under the legislation, Section 215 of the Patriot Act would be renewed for another five years. Section 215 authorizes the NSA to collect and store virtually all Americans’ landline telephone records, including telephone numbers, dialed numbers, call durations and locations. The provision expires on June 1.
McConnell’s bill comes amid a renewed effort to revive the U.S.A. Freedom Act in the House, where it passed last year but failed in the Senate. The Freedom Act renews Section 215, but includes reforms to limit the NSA’s access to phone records.
Republicans led by McConnell attacked the Freedom Act late last year, insisting the new reforms would open the U.S. up to greater threats from terrorist organizations including ISIS in the Middle East.
Does the FBI manifest fidelity, bravery, and integrity, or does it cut constitutional corners in order to incriminate? Can the FBI cut the cable television lines to your house and then show up pretending to be the cable guy and install listening devices? Can FBI agents and technicians testify falsely and cause the innocent to be convicted, incarcerated and, in some cases, executed?
In 2014, FBI agents in Las Vegas were on the trail of Wei Seng Phua, whom they believed was running an illegal gambling operation out of his hotel room at Caesars Palace. Instead of following him, asking questions about him, and using other traditional investigative techniques, a few agents came up with the idea of planting a wiretap in Phua’s hotel room.
They bribed a hotel employee, who gave them access to a place in the hotel where they could disable the cable television wires to Phua’s room. When he called for repair, they showed up pretending to be cable guys, and he let them into his room. They repaired what they had disabled, but they also illegally wiretapped the phones in the room. Then they overheard his telephone conversations about his illegal gambling, and they arrested him. A grand jury indicted him based on what was overheard.
The grand jury was not told of the wire cutting and the con job, but a federal judge was. Last week, he criticized the FBI for conducting an illegal search of Phua’s room, in direct contravention of the Fourth Amendment, which the agents swore to uphold, and he barred the government from using the tapes of the telephone conversations as evidence against Phua. If the government can get away with this, he ruled, then constitutional guarantees are meaningless.
These lawless agents should have been indicted by a state grand jury for breaking and entering by false pretense, but Caesars declined to seek their prosecution. No surprise.
It was surprising, however, when the FBI was forced to admit last week that in the 1980s and 1990s, its agents and lab technicians who examined hair samples testified falsely in 257 of 268 cases that resulted in convictions. Of the convictions, 18 persons were sentenced to death, and of those, 12 have been executed.
The headline in Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when the newspaper served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.”
The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.
But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.
At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.
Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.
And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.
At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.
The New York Times’s examination of the Uranium One deal is based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States. Some of the connections between Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation were unearthed by Peter Schweizer, a former fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book “Clinton Cash.” Mr. Schweizer provided a preview of material in the book to The Times, which scrutinized his information and built upon it with its own reporting.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Jeb Bush, a likely presidential contender, said Tuesday that President Obama’s greatest accomplishment was keeping in place controversial spying programs at the National Security Agency.
“I would say the best part of the Obama administration would be his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the big metadata programs,” Bush said in an interview on the Michael Medved radio show.
Bush argued the NSA programs had been “enhanced” under Obama, even if the president “never defends them or openly admits it.”
The former Florida governor said the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone data was “an important service” carried out in a way that protects individual civil liberties.
He lauded the Obama administration for refusing to buckle under pressure from Democrats, civil liberties groups and some Republicans.
“He has not abandoned them,” Bush said.
Critics of the NSA programs say they’re a massive affront to individual privacy, while defenders say they’re a critical tool in uncovering and combating terrorism.
The issue has revealed an early split among some Republican presidential contenders.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has long been a critic of the programs, sued the Obama administration last year over the bulk collection of phone records.
Brian Doherty’s New York Times op-ed bemoaning what he sees as Rand Paul’s lack of libertarian principle reflects genuine frustration from libertarians with Sen. Paul. Doherty is by no means alone in his frustration among libertarians.
But he is missing a much larger and more important point.
Right now, libertarian ideas are arguably under more serious consideration than ever before in our culture and politics. Americans fed up with big government but also not finding either of the major parties attractive, or their conventional leaders attractive, are looking for new answers and better leaders.
People are looking for something different.
The fact that a “libertarianish” Republican like Rand Paul is even a credible presidential candidate is a significant part of this trend. That Paul is scaring the bejeezus out of the most anti-libertarian factions of the establishment left and right at the moment, should be a pretty good indication of his effectiveness.
That Rand Paul merely exists, as a political force representing a relatively brand-new faction within the GOP, but also as a transpartisan figure that continues to try to turn the whole left-right paradigm on its head—is also a pretty big deal for libertarians.
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver recently analyzed how though few Americans label themselves as libertarians, sizable portions and perhaps even emerging majorities hold libertarian views on everything from the size of government to issues like gay marriage.
Libertarians, like Doherty and others, might not be happy that Paul does not espouse purer libertarian views. But as the country seems to trend in his direction, as Doherty also concedes it might be, is it perhaps more important to have political figures who will actually help shepherd that migration and are effective in doing so?
How many pure libertarians have been effective in doing so? How many pure libertarians would be effective in doing so?
From an anti-statist perspective, it is also important, if we genuinely believe in making government smaller and shrinking the debt, that we have leaders who are actually serious about accomplishing this.
How many generations of “conservative” Republicans have talked about limiting government? How many have actually done so or even attempted to do it in any serious manner? Certainly not the last Republican president. Certainly not most of the potential 2016 GOP candidates who differ little in their domestic and foreign agendas from the last Republican president.
Many on the right like to dismiss libertarians because of our more relaxed and tolerant social views. But it is also libertarians who are the most serious about shrinking government in the way Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan used to talk about it. Many Republicans worry that libertarians are making their party more liberal, when in fact, they are making it more conservative in the most traditional sense.
For libertarians to win, don’t they first have to be a threat to the status quo? What pure libertarian today—or ever—has made the political establishment as nervous as Rand Paul?
Is not some of most hysterical pushback against Paul by those on the left who genuinely fear how much the senator as president would shrink government on the domestic front? Isn’t the collective freak-out over Paul on the right coming from hawks who fear reducing the Pentagon budget by one penny might lead to World War 3?
Rand is running for president of the United States, not purest libertarian in the United States. Some libertarians might not think that’s the right decision and that’s fine. But no libertarian should pretend Paul’s presence isn’t a significant benefit to libertarianism.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off.
The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.”
Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.
That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble.
“It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.”
She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”
It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.
Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television.
In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”
As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.
The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent. This was not the “right to remain silent” as uttered by every cop on every legal drama on television — the right against self-incrimination. They couldn’t mount a public defense if they wanted — or even offer an explanation to family and friends.
Yet no one in this family was a “perp.” Instead, like Cindy, they were American citizens guilty of nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights to support Act 10 and other conservative causes in Wisconsin. Sitting there shocked and terrified, this citizen — who is still too intimidated to speak on the record — kept thinking, “Is this America?”
Though more than seventy years have passed since this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics. In The Good Earth Pearl S. Buck paints an indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings. This moving, classic story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-Lan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during the last century.
Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck traces the whole cycle of life: its terrors, its passions, its ambitions and rewards. Her brilliant novel—beloved by millions of readers—is a universal tale of an ordinary family caught in the tide of history.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Whether he wanted it or not, US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) now has the backing of one of libertarianism’s most strident and prominent academics as he campaigns for the presidency. Walter Block, the longtime anarcho-libertarian and Austrian-school economist, released a 1,400-word comment via Facebook this Saturday evening, entitled “The Libertarian Case for Rand Paul.”
“I stand with Rand,” he wrote, “and I urge my fellow libertarians, particularly those who have been most dismissive of him, to reconsider their position on this man.”
Block, a tenured professor at Loyola University New Orleans, believes that his own “libertarian credentials are about as good, among the living, as anyone else’s on the planet.” Lew Rockwell, founder and chairman of the Mises Institute, has dubbed him Mr. Libertarian, and commitment is not a matter of debate for the author of Defending the Undefendable (1976). Block’s uncompromising and combative style has earned him the sarcastic moniker of “the moderate.”
Walter “the moderate” Block claims to have been a libertarian since 1963, and that his “libertarian credentials are about as good, among the living, as anyone else’s on the planet.”
Rand Paul’s latest endorsement comes from Walter “the moderate” Block, who claims to have been a libertarian since 1963. Block says his “libertarian credentials are about as good, among the living, as anyone else’s on the planet.”
A long-time supporter of Rand’s father, Block also wrote Ron Paul for President in 2012, and he laments that “The acorn has fallen too far from the tree in this case.” However, when it comes to electoral politics, Block is willing to acknowledge that “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.
Friday, April 17, 2015
From Space Ghost to H.R. Pufnstuff, from Thunderbirds to Smurfs, The Great Grape Ape or Electra Woman and Dyna-Girl. We al remember and yet wished it was like that now. Relive your Saturday mornings with Marc B. Lee and his hindsight on what was classic.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
New data from the U.S. Treasury shows that the federal government has amassed $74 trillion in debts, liabilities and unfunded Social Security/Medicare obligations. This amounts to $603,000 for every household in the U.S., a fiscal burden that exceeds 90% of all the private wealth accumulated in the history of America.
Each year, the Treasury and White House are required by law to report on the “overall financial position” of the federal government. The law also requires the Government Accountability Office to audit the data, which is then published in the “Financial Report of the United States Government.”
Unlike the federal budget, which primarily uses “cash accounting,” this report uses “accrual accounting.” The Government Accountability Office explains that this method of accounting “is intended to provide a complete picture of the federal government’s financial operations and financial position.”
Cash accounting is the simple process of counting money as it flows in or out. In contrast, accrual accounting measures financial commitments regardless of when cash is received or paid. For instance, as federal workers earn pension benefits, accrual accounting measures these obligations even though the money may not be paid out until years later. Cash accounting does not measure such liabilities until they are paid.
The federal government requires large corporations to use accrual accounting for their pension plans, because this is the “most relevant and reliable” way to measure their financial health. The same general standard applies to other retirement benefits like healthcare. The official statement of this rule explains that “a failure to accrue” implies “that no obligation exists prior to the payment of benefits.” Since an obligation does exist, failing to account for it “impairs the usefulness and integrity” of financial statements.
Nevertheless, the media and politicians constantly cite the federal budget, which primarily uses cash accounting. Yet, they are virtually silent about the Financial Report of the U.S. Government, which uses the accounting standard that government imposes on large corporations.
According to this year’s report, the federal government now owes $6.7 trillion in pensions and other benefits to federal employees and veterans. Although these liabilities don’t appear in the 2014 budget or national debt, paying them will require an average of $54,000 from every household in the U.S.
A similar situation exists with Social Security and Medicare, because government funds these programs with taxes on workers who often don’t receive benefits until years later when they are senior citizens. These programs differ from pensions because taxpayers don’t have a contractual right to receive benefits. As held in a 1960 Supreme Court ruling, the government can change the deal at will. Nevertheless, paying these benefits is an implied commitment of the federal government, and the law requires that these programs be included in this report.
Government quantifies the unfunded obligations of Social Security and Medicare in several different ways, but only one of them approximates the concept of accrual accounting. This is called the “closed group” obligation, which is the money needed to cover the shortfalls for all current taxpayers and beneficiaries in these programs. In the words of Harvard Law School professor and federal budget specialist Howell E. Jackson, this “measure reflects the financial burden or liability being passed on to future generations.”
These burdens amount to $25.4 trillion for Social Security and $28.2 trillion for Medicare. Other obligations of the federal government are included in the report, like debt, environmental liabilities, and accounts payable.
The report also accounts for federal assets, such as cash, real estate, and corporate stocks. This excludes federal stewardship land heritage assets, such as national parks and the original copy of the Declaration of Independence. While these items have tangible value, the report explains that the government “does not expect to use these assets to meet its obligations.”
Tallying the Treasury’s data on assets and obligations, the federal government has amassed $74.3 trillion in debts, liabilities, and unfunded Social Security/Medicare obligations. Spread over all U.S. households, this amounts to an average of $603,000 per household.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
From Space Ghost to H.R. Pufnstuff, from Thunderbirds to Smurfs, The Great Grape Ape or Electra Woman and Dyna-Girl. We al remember and yet wished it was like that now. Relive your Saturday mornings with Marc B. Lee and his hindsight on what was classic.
Sen. Marco Rubio wants Congress to permanently extend the authorities governing several of the National Security Agency’s controversial spying programs, including its mass surveillance of domestic phone records.
The Florida Republican and likely 2016 presidential hopeful penned an op-ed on Tuesday condemning President Obama’s counterterrorism policies and warning that the U.S. has not learned the “fundamental lessons of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”
Rubio called on Congress to permanently reauthorize core provisions of the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act, which are due to sunset on June 1 of this year and provide the intelligence community with much of its surveillance power.
“This year, a new Republican majority in both houses of Congress will have to extend current authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and I urge my colleagues to consider a permanent extension of the counterterrorism tools our intelligence community relies on to keep the American people safe,” Rubio wrote in a Fox News op-ed.
Rubio for years has positioned himself as a vocal defense hawk in Congress, and he has repeatedly defended the NSA’s spy programs revealed to the public by former agency contractor Edward Snowden.
But Rubio’s call to permanently extend the legal framework that allows the NSA to collect the bulk U.S. phone metadata—language that Congress has tweaked and in many cases made more permissive since 9/11—is particularly forceful. It comes in the wake of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists in France at a satirical newspaper and a kosher deli that left 17 dead—violence that has prompted European officials to publicly consider whether more forceful surveillance laws are needed.
It also underscores the divisions among Rubio and his fellow Republican senators expected to jockey for the White House—namely, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Cruz was one of only four Republicans to join with Democrats in November in voting to pass the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would have reformed several aspects of the NSA spying regime and would have barred the government from dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records. Rubio voted against the measure, and so did Paul—though for divergent reasons. While Rubio warned that the bill could hamper intelligence agencies and bolster terrorists, Paul voted it down because he said it did not go far enough.
Paul has vowed to work to block the Patriot Act’s reauthorization entirely this year, though many privacy and civil-liberties advocates have questioned the legitimacy of his strategy.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the company’s Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station today, then turned around and nearly pulled off a soft landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 4:10 p.m. EDT (2010 GMT) today (April 14), sending Dragon to orbit on a resupply mission for NASA. SpaceX then attempted to bring the rocket’s first stage back down for a vertical landing on an “autonomous spaceport drone ship,” in a highly anticipated reusable-rocket test.
The unprecedented maneuver almost worked — but not quite.
“Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station. Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival,” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter today. “Looks like Falcon landed fine, but excess lateral velocity caused it to tip over post landing,” he added in another tweet.
Today’s launch was originally scheduled for Monday (April 13) but was delayed a day by bad weather.
Developing fully and rapidly reusable rockets is a key priority for SpaceX and Musk, who has said that such technology could slash the cost of spaceflight by a factor of 100.
SpaceX has now attempted the rocket landing twice. The previous try occurred on Jan. 10, during the last Dragon launch; the Falcon 9 first stage came down on target that day as well, but it hit the drone ship too hard and exploded on the deck.
Musk said in the aftermath of the Jan. 10 attempt that the rocket stage’s stabilizing “grid fins” ran out of hydraulic fluid. SpaceX addressed that issue and also upgraded the drone ship — which is called “Just Read the Instructions,” after a sentient colony ship in the novels of sci-fi author Iain M. Banks — to be more stable in rough seas, company representatives have said.
Musk is probably not particularly surprised or disappointed by today’s near-miss. On Monday, he tweeted that the chances of landing success were less than 50 percent.
While the reusable-rocket test has been grabbing most of the headlines, the main goal of today’s launch was to get Dragon aloft. SpaceX holds a $1.6 billion NASA contract to fly at least 12 resupply missions to the orbiting lab using Dragon and the Falcon 9; today’s launch kicked off the sixth of those cargo missions.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”
So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Jig to a Milestone performs "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" at the closing pub sing at the 2015 Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesvile, Florida.
Monday, April 13, 2015
The National Security Agency is embroiled in a battle with tech companies over access to encrypted data that would allow it to spy (more easily) on millions of Americans and international citizens. Last month, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple urged the Obama administration to put an end to the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata. The NSA, on the other hand, continues to parade the idea that the government needs access to encrypted data on smartphones and other devices to track and prevent criminal activity. Now, NSA director Michael S. Rogers says he might have a solution.
During a recent speech at Princeton University, Rogers suggested tech companies could create a master multi-part encryption key capable of unlocking any device, The Washington Post reports. That way, if the key were broken into pieces, no single person would have the ability to use it.
“I don’t want a back door,” Rogers said. “I want a front door. And I want the front door to have multiple locks. Big locks.”
The suggestion comes as Congress considers a new framework for handling encrypted data. Government and law enforcement officials say total encryption could stand in the way of national security operations, while leaders in the tech industry and advocacy groups say the government shouldn’t have complete, unobstructed access to citizens’ private communications.
Government documents obtained by a top “Inside the Beltway” watchdog group and released on Thursday reveal that Internal Revenue Service’s Lois Lerner was strongly urged by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, her assistance in attacking certain non-profit political groups. The organizations they selected for targeting by Lerner were part of the Tea Party and conservative movements.
The group that investigates and exposes government corruption, Judicial Watch, released newly acquired IRS documents, including an email from Ms. Lerner in February 2012 requesting she “put together some training points to help them [IRS staffers] understand the potential pitfalls of revealing too much information to Congress.”
One of the released documents is a Lerner email from 2013 that she was willing to ‘take a bullet” for Obama and his White House for the IRS scandal and that she understood why the targeting of Tea Party organizations and other conservative groups may raise questions regarding what did President Obama know and when did he know it. Obama had told the press that he first read about the IRS targeting of conservatives in the newspaper.
According to a Judicial Watch officials, “A May 1, 2013, email exchange between Lois Lerner and other top IRS staffers revealed that 11 days prior to Lerner’s admission that the IRS had “inappropriately” targeted conservative groups, she met with select top staffers from the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in a “marathon” meeting to discuss concerns raised by both Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that the IRS was not reining in political advocacy groups in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
The New Minstrel Revue perfoms "MacDougal's Farm" at the 2015 Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville, Florida.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
“I have a message, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We have come to take our country back,” he said to cheers from supporters and family members in his announcement speech in Kentucky. ”The Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives must be stopped.”
“To rescue a great country now adrift, join me, as together we seek a new vision for America,” he said. ”Today, I announce with God’s help, with the help of liberty lovers everywhere, that I am putting myself forward as a candidate for president of the United States of America.”
Paul is a favorite among libertarians and constitutionalists who want to see power devolved from Washington, D.C., and given back to the states. His announcement speech noted his well-known devotion to the Constitution, a guide for limited government that he believes has been ignored for the last several years.
“We need to boldly proclaim our vision for America,” he said. “We need to go boldly forth under the banner of liberty that clutches the Constitution in one hand, and the Bill of Rights in the other.”
Paul cited the massive national debt and bloated annual budget deficits as signs of government run amok, and said both parties can be blamed for this outcome. He said a constitutional amendment would be needed to fix that problem.
“Big government and debt doubled under a Republican administration, and it’s now tripling under Barack Obama’s watch,” he said. “President Obama is on course to add more debt than all of the previous presidents combined.”
“Couldn’t the country just survive on $3 trillion? I propose we do something extraordinary — let’s just spend what comes in,” he added.
Paul also hit on well-known issues of his such as such as school choice, limiting foreign aid and ending warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans by the National Security Agency as a way of gathering intelligence.
Full article: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/04/07/i-am-running-for-president-rand-paul-joins-the-2016-race/
Matt Flynn of Breitbart News reports that the consultants who make up Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America have extensive ties to the Bush family. Flynn reports that many of these people also have ties to Karl Rove and other GOP establishment figures.
According to the Times, Black Rock Group, a public affairs firm, is “advising” the new Super PAC. Black Rock is yet another GOP consulting firm housed at 66 Canal Street in Alexandria, VA, the Republican party establishment’s outpost across the river from DC. The firm is run by Carl Forti and Brian Jones, longtime operatives in Bush World.
Forti is currently political director of American Crossroads, the GOP establishment Super PAC guided by former Bush political guru Karl Rove. Jones has had leading campaign rolls with Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Jones has extensive ties with mainstream media outlets, which helps explain why the New York Times is breaking a story about a GOP nomination contest.
Republicans, after all, are very adept at using the mainstream media to attack other Republicans.
The titular head of the Super PAC attacking Rand is Rick Reed, a key GOP strategist for the “Swift Boat” campaign against John Kerry more than a decade ago. Reed is largely retired from political campaigns, but seems prepared to suit up again when Bush World calls.
As Rare’s Jack Hunter (also a former Paul staff member) noted Tuesday, these early attacks on Rand Paul by possible surrogates of Jeb Bush might indicate fear of the Kentucky senator’s foreign policy views and their influence.
Full article: https://rare.us/story/report-the-superpac-running-ads-against-rand-paul-has-ties-to-bush-world/
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
The New Minstrel Revue performs "Pull Boys Pull" at the 2015 Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesvile, Florida.
“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” – U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 7
When Chief Justice Roberts cast the deciding vote in NFIB v. Sebelius (2012), the Court ruled that ObamaCare was a constitutional practice of Congress’s Taxing Power. However, what the Chief Justice and the Court failed to address was how the Origination Clause might affect the law’s constitutionality. The Origination Clause requires that all bills for raising revenue originate in the House, ObamaCare, for all intents and purposes, originated in the Senate.
ObamaCare started in the House as H.R. 3590, a three page bill that dealt with housing for veterans that was unanimously passed on October 8, 2009. Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader at the time, had an urge to pass ObamaCare, and pass it quickly. On November 19 he deleted the text from H.R. 3590, renamed the bill the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” and added the hundreds of pages of ObamaCare text. ObamaCare was born!
A case brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation, Sissel v. United States Dep’t. of H&HS, challenges ObamaCare as a violation of the Origination Clause. The District Court dismissed the case, ruling that ObamaCare was not a bill for raising revenue. The court also ruled that even if the bill’s purpose was to raise revenue it would not violate the Origination Clause because it originated in the House.
The PLF appealed to the DC Circuit Court where a panel of three judges ruled that ObamaCare was not a bill for raising revenue and thus did not violate the Origination Clause. PLF has since appealed for en banc review of the panel’s decision.
There are two important questions to ask in regards to ObamaCare and the Origination Clause. First, was ObamaCare a bill for raising revenue? Second, if the Senate deletes all the text from a House bill and rewrites it, does the bill still originate in the House?
The District and Circuit Courts ruled that ObamaCare was not a bill for raising revenue because its main purpose was to force people to purchase health insurance. While this may be true, there are multiple taxes in ObamaCare which main purpose is to raise revenues. Also, if it was found to be constitutional under the Taxing Power, it would make sense that it would be included as a bill for raising revenue.
Monday, April 6, 2015
Great Expectations is Charles Dickens's thirteenth novel. It is his second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person. Great Expectations is a bildungsroman, or a coming-of-age novel, and it is a classic work of Victorian literature. It depicts the growth and personal development of an orphan named Pip. The novel was first published in serial form in Dickens's weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. In October 1861, Chapman and Hall published the novel in three volumes. Dickens originally intended Great Expectations to be twice as long, but constraints imposed by the management of All the Year Round limited the novel's length. The novel is collected and dense, with a conciseness unusual for Dickens. According to G. K. Chesterton, Dickens penned Great Expectations in "the afternoon of [his] life and fame." It was the penultimate novel Dickens completed, preceding Our Mutual Friend. It is set among the marshes of Kent and in London in the early to mid-1800s. The novel contains some of Dickens most memorable scenes, including its opening, in a graveyard, when the young orphan Pip is accosted by the escaped convict, Abel Magwitch. Great Expectations is a graphic book, full of extreme imagery, poverty, prison ships ("the hulks"), barriers and chains, and fights to the death. Upon its release, Thomas Carlyle spoke of "All that Pip's nonsense." Later, George Bernard Shaw praised the novel as "All of one piece and consistently truthfull." Dickens felt Great Expectations was his best work, calling it "a very fine idea," and was very sensitive to compliments from his friends: "Bulwer, who has been, as I think you know, extraordinarily taken by the book." Great Expectations has a colourful cast that has entered popular culture: the capricious Miss Havisham, the cold and beautiful Estella, Joe the kind and generous blacksmith, the dry and sycophantic Uncle Pumblechook, Mr. Jaggers, Wemmick with his dual personality, and the eloquent and wise friend, Herbert Pocket. Throughout the narrative, typical Dickensian themes emerge: wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the eventual triumph of good over evil.