The Pentagon has a $43 billion slush fund that the Obama administration is using to bypass Congress to intervene overseas

One of the funniest parts of the very funny movie Office Space has to do with the ridiculous requirement, and the related dialogue, regarding cover sheets on TPS reports. You remember:

Why is this relevant in a piece about the Pentagon and allegations that their Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, account has become little more than a slush fund “threatening to become a permanent repository for unneeded projects and bad ideas”, as William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, recently opined in the Los Angeles Times? Because they are both examples of the perniciousness of bureaucracy and, specifically, the “business speak” that accompanies it.

As the Times piece notes, there are several (almost hilariously) broadly defined budget items in the fiscal year 2015 OCO war budget, despite the fact that the US is winding down its presence in Afghanistan to fulfill one of President Obama’s stated goals.

Nearly half of that $43 billion is earmarked “to carry out the entire array of support activities by units and forces operating in the Central Command area outside of Afghanistan, including … the Arabian Gulf region.”

Federal judge orders an independent inquiry into Lois Lerner’s missing emails

A federal judge has ordered an independent inquiry to search for answers into the loss of emails at the Internal Revenue Service, including those of disgraced former official Lois Lerner, who is at the heart of the tax agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan, who was appointed to the federal bench in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton, wasn’t pleased by the IRS’s responses to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch.

In an order released on Thursday afternoon, Sullivan instructed the IRS “to file a sworn Declaration, by an official with the authority to speak under oath for the Agency, by no later than August 22, 2014.” That official, whomever it may be, will have to provide detail on the tax agency’s efforts to recover the Lerner’s emails, tracking of hard drives, and policies relating to the destruction of hard drives.

“In an extraordinary step, U. S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan has launched an independent inquiry into the issue of the missing emails associated with former IRS official Lois Lerner,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a release.

“Previously, Judge Sullivan ordered the IRS to produce sworn declarations about the IRS email issue by August 11,” he said. “[Thursday’s] order confirms Judicial Watch’s read of this week’s IRS’ filings that treated as a joke Judge Sullivan’s order.”

Washington Post stumped by Rand Paul because he’s shattering media narratives about the Tea Party

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) outreach efforts to minorities and young people with a heavy focus on criminal justice reform, police militarization, and civil liberties has perplexed the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake.

Over at Washington Post’s The Fix, Blake declared that the “Tea Party” label — which, as he notes, has been overused since the peak of the movement in 2010 — is “far too simple” for Paul. He points to the Kentucky Republican’s piece in Time on the startling scenes from Ferguson, Missouri and police militarization:

Given Paul’s political rise — he defeated an establishment-aligned Republican in a 2010 primary — it was natural to label him a tea partier. We have done it too — repeatedly. It’s the easiest short-hand for a GOP outsider. But more and more, it’s looking like that label doesn’t really fit. While Paul is certainly aligned with the tea party on a lot of stuff, the label doesn’t describe him as well as it does someone like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). An op-ed Paul wrote Thursday in Time magazine was just the latest example of that. The things Paul said in it are not the kind of things you would expect from a tea partier.
[…]
The trouble with Paul is that no well-known labels seem to fit him well. While his dad, Ron Paul, is a pretty straight-line libertarian, that’s not really who the younger Paul is. He’s not an establishment Republican, a neo-conservative, an arch-conservative or a moderate Republican.

We still don’t know what label would be better than “tea party,” but it’s becoming clearer and clearer that this label doesn’t really fit. Maybe he’s just a Rand Paul Republican.

Here’s the movie trailer for “Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt?”

The makers of Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? the final chapter of the trilogy based on Ayn Rand’s magnum opus — released the trailer for the film ahead of its September 12 release date.

The trailer focuses on the heroine, Dagny Taggert, and the mysterious John Galt, one of the proud producers who has gone on strike in protest against a government that constantly exploits them and a society that demonizes them for being successful.

With an economy nearing ruin and a world turmoil, Taggart refuses to join the strikers and returns to society. Galt follows her and decides to take a stand by taking over the airwaves to give a manifesto in defense of the morality of individualism and capitalism. He also explains the motives behind the strike.

Given that the speech takes up a chunk of the novel, one would assume that the writers trimmed it down to a manageable length for a viewing audience, hopefully without losing the substance of the message that Rand conveyed.

The trailer very briefly shows a clip of former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), who has a cameo in the film. Conservative talkers Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck and American for Tax Reform Presiden Grover Norquist, among several others, will also appear in the final chapter of the trilogy.

Watch the trailer for Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? below:

College Republicans plan to spend $2 million on outreach at universities, but that’s not enough to win over the youth vote

college students

Liberty-minded activists have been saying for what seems forever that the GOP needs to pay attention to winning the youth vote, or die. The fact that the party establishment has been essentially ignoring this voting bloc has been a source of consternation for pundits and political strategists alike. Now, it seems that this message is finally getting through, but it still isn’t being addressed anywhere near as well as it could be yet.

The College Republican National Committee is tossing some money — $2 million to be exact — at building a campus-based program to court young voters. It’s a nice gesture, but honestly isn’t much more than that. As of 2011, there were 2,870 four-year colleges in the U.S. — the schools that it is safe to assume that the GOP will focus on in this endeavor.

While it’s not realistic to think that they will attempt to launch some sort of outreach program on each and every one of those campuses right away, the honest truth is that if they are taking this seriously, the long-term plan needs to include them. So, that means that officially, the Republicans are prepared to commit approximately $700 per campus for this initiative.

Yes, there are nebulous promises of more money down the road, but we’ve seen this in other outreach programs before. The only concrete numbers available indicate that this is probably going to be a limited experiment by the party, or that this is lip service to grassroots organizers that have been calling for this sort of investment for years.

There could be another Left-Right alliance forming over the issue of police militarization due to the scenes from Ferguson

Ferguson, Missouri

The tragedy that took place over the weekend in Ferguson, Missouri, in which Michael Brown, a recent high school graduate, was senselessly shot and killed by a local law enforcement officer, has sparked a debate over the issue of police militarization.

Although libertarians have, for years, talked about the militarization of police and the use of the weapons of war in communities across the country. Radley Balko even wrote a fantastic book about the issue and continues to cover it extensively. But the militarization of police hadn’t received a significant amount of attention from the media and lawmakers. At least until now.

Police in the St. Louis suburb responded to what was a peaceful protest by showing up with tactical gear, military-style weapons, and armored vehicles. The situation has obviously devolved since the first protest into rioting and looting by locals, actions that simply aren’t justified and only make matters worse.

Back in June, United Liberty’s Matthew Hurtt wrote about the state and local law enforcement agencies’ acquisition of surplus and refurbished U.S. military equipment —including armored vehicles, machine guns, and other leftovers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — for use in communities around the country.

Make that two times Mary Landrieu used taxpayer funds to travel to campaign fundraisers

It’s a not exactly a difficult rule to grasp: members of Congress can’t use their taxpayer-funded office accounts for to campaign. But Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has, for the second time this week, come under fire for using her Senate office account to charter a flight to a campaign fundraiser, via CNN:

The Louisiana Democrat chartered a private plane last September to travel from New Orleans to Shreveport, where she attended an official event. She then traveled on to Dallas, where she attended a fundraiser.

Under federal law and Senate rules, the cost of a trip that includes official and campaign stops must often be prorated between Senate and campaign accounts. However, if the campaign activity is “incidental” to the official trip, the expense doesn’t need to be split up. In this case, Landrieu’s Senate office picked up the whole cost of the trip.
[…]
A Senate aide said that because Landrieu was already going to be in Dallas, the office considered the fundraiser incidental and not an expense that had to be partially covered by the campaign.

CNN reported earlier this week that Landrieu used her official Senate account to charter a flight from New Orleans to Lake Charles, Louisiana so she could attend a campaign fundraiser. Landrieu, one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats, has agreed to reimburse the Senate (read: taxpayers) nearly $6,000 for the two flights.

What’s So Great About America?: Well, freedom and pretty much everything the Left hates

I recently finished Dinesh D’Souza’s book What’s So Great About America, a book which looks at America past and present and does so with a sense of history and moral clarity which is sorely needed in our day and time. It has become increasingly popular in recent decades for the political left to point to every real and perceived sin committed by America in order to advance the idea that America is no better than any other nation, or worse, that America is actually a force of evil in the world

In doing so, the left intentionally distorts the past, and omits discussion of the tremendous good, often done with great sacrifice in blood and treasure, to advance the cause of liberty throughout the Earth. Written in 2002, What’s So Great About America seems even more relevant today, with the world aflame in chaos and violence, than it was a dozen years ago.

While it is proper to have a discussion of our national sins (slavery comes to mind, first and foremost), it is not just intellectually dishonest, but downright suicidal to breed such contempt for the very nation which, for the first time in history, declared that all men are created equal in the eyes of God and the law, and which declared our rights come not from man, but from God Himself. No longer would we live under the idea of a Divine Right of Kings, but instead would propose that government is the servant of the people, not the master.

The Pink Police State: James Poulos diagnoses what ails American society

PPS

One month ago, James Poulos, the self-described “radicaltarian” blogger, podcaster, scholar, and musician, dropped a bomb on the political discourse with the beginning of a short (but long) series at The Federalist called the Pink Police State. It’s an idea that’s been rolling around in Poulos’ cluttered  but razor-sharp brain for a while now, and he finally got it out in long form.

In short, the Pink Police State is a cultural schism that began in the late 1990s resulting in an alternating maternal nanny state and dangerously permissive personal life.

What we have today then is something quite “neo,” historically speaking: a robust regulatory state that pursues health and safety at the expense of liberty in the context of a culture that demands robust interpersonal freedom. Rather than stamping out hedonistic pursuits and pleasure-centered living, 1984 style, the new statism creates a “safe” space for their “healthy” experience. Yet, rather than expanding the project limitlessly, Brave New World style, so as to make all pleasure official, the new statism tacitly acknowledges that our most potent appetites can never be fully domesticated, even with all the tools of force, surveillance, and coercion at the government’s disposal.

The prospects of a book about Bowe Bergdahl scare Obama supporters

Bowe Bergdahl

A book on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and his story could soon become a reality, but not without the participation of his six former platoon mates, which is making some publishers nervous; neither of the former mates have any positive words to share on who they call a “premeditated” deserter.

Publishers have shown hesitation over what they have read so far from a draft of the book proposal. According to the agents representing the six former platoon mates, the book would play right into what conservatives have been using to criticize President Obama’s handling of Bergdahl’s rescue, which required a prisoner exchange that saw the release of five terrorism suspects who had been held in Guantanamo until the swap took place.

Some of the prisoners the Taliban requested in exchange for Bergdahl were reportedly considered senior Taliban commanders. At least one of the prisoners had been allegedly linked to the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan between 2000 and 2001.

The book also claims the former Taliban captive put the lives of his platoon mates in danger while possibly aiding his kidnappers. Over fears related to how the public would receive the details presented by this book, publishers are afraid the “Right [will] use[ing] it to their ends.” According to Sarah Durand, a senior editor at Atria Books “Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama.”

 


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