Defeating Mark Udall in Colorado may yield one final victory for liberty

NSA Domestic Spying

When Republican challenger Cory Gardner defeated incument Democrat Mark Udall in Colorado, it was a huge victory for constitutional government and individual liberty. However, that victory might yield one final benefit even before Gardener takes office in January. Mark Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is considering releasing all or part of a secret government report on the CIA’s torture program before he leaves office.

As a member of Congress, Udall has immunity from prosecution for releasing classified information as part of the “Speech or Debate Clause” if he does so on the floor of the Senate. He could read the entire unredacted report in a speech or filibuster and suffer no criminal consequence because of the congressional exception and no political consequence since he’s leaving office.

The report was compiled by the Senate Intelligence Committee from 2009 to 2012 based on documents from the detention and interrogation program started after the September 11 attacks. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has no problem with the government’s wholesale violation of American privacy rights, summarizes the report as follows:

Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet will hurt our economy

Obama's Internet Takeover

It’s no mystery why the Democratic Party lost big in this year’s election: “The party of economic despair will always lose.” President Obama has presided over six years of lackluster economic growth. “Progressive Democratic policies on Keystone, power-plant closures and oils exports crushed younger, unionized job seekers.”

This week, the President doubled down on his bad economic policies when he announced his plan to impose net neutrality through ‘Title II’ price regulation of Internet broadband providers — a plan that will discourage investment in new communications infrastructure and threaten our economic recovery.

Over the last three years, America’s broadband providers have been the brightest source of economic hope during a particularly gloomy recession.

The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) ranks AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast among the top ten U.S. “investment heroes” — the companies who are investing the most capital in the United States. These three companies alone have invested nearly $125 billion in the U.S. over the last three years, with AT&T and Verizon topping the list on an annual basis.

Mary Landrieu: Another one of #HillarysLosers?

Mary Landrieu

The bad news just keeps rolling in for former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Just a few days after Republicans dominated Federal and State elections, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) announced that it would pull all remaining TV advertisements for Mary Landrieu, all but giving up on the Senator and her bid to win a runoff election on December 6.

According to the Politico, the DSCC cancelled all local ad buys that it had purchased through December 6. In addition to the $1.6 million that it has already pulled, it is also working to pull another $275,000 from local markets. Contrast that with the $7.2 million in airtime that Republicans still have in lined up until December 6.

While the DSCC is backing off, Landrieu is finding support among a couple of her Democratic colleagues: Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergran Grimes, who was destroyed by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in last Tuesday’s race, and soon to be former N.C. Senator, Kay Hagan, who was defeated by Thom Tillis. Grimes and Hagan have both sent fundraising emails in support of Landrieu, encouraging their donors to support the next victim of the Republican wave.

How Uber-friendly is your city?

Ridescore

The R Street Institute, a think tank that seeke to “engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government” launched Ridescore, an interactive scorecard that rates the car service industry in 50 top U.S. cities, including taxis, limosines, and ride-sharing services like Uber. Giving ratings ranging from A to F, R Street investigated the regulatory framework in cities as diverse as Washington, D.C. (A rating), Phoenix, Arizona (C+ rating), and Las Vegas, Nevada (F rating).

R Street reports:

To paint a comprehensive picture of transportation regulation across the country, we embarked on an ambitious research project to grade 50 of the largest U.S. cities on their friendliness to the full range of for-hire vehicle services. The challenges relate to more than just TNCs, thus we also surveyed restrictions on taxi and limo services. In each city, we gathered information on key regulatory variables for TNC, taxi and limousine services, awarding numerical scores for each category that reflect deviation from a base score. Combining the grades for TNC regulatory friendliness, taxi regulatory friendliness and limo regulatory friendliness together yields an overall “ride score” that describes the city’s openness to competition in the market for hired vehicle services. Forty percent of the overall ride score derives from TNC friendliness, 40 percent from taxi friendliness and 20 percent from limo friendliness.

‘Selfie Stalker’ Sues Nancy Grace for Defamation

Nancy Grace

Judge Dredd wannabe Nancy Grace is finding herself on the defensive as Ben Siebert, falsely dubbed the ‘Selfie Stalker,’ is filing a defamation lawsuit against Grace. Grace, never one to let the facts get in the way of a sensational story to boost her ratings, made no effort to correct her mistake.

The AP reports:

The lawsuit filed Monday in Denver says Grace, who hosts a show on Turner Broadcasting’s HLN network, incorrectly told millions of viewers that Ben Seibert invaded a woman’s home and snapped a photo of himself on her phone, which she described as a “textbook serial killer’s calling card.”

Seibert said Grace humiliated him with her commentary, which went viral on an array of social media sites where readers called him a weirdo, a sicko, a rapist and a pervert. The suit says Grace didn’t check the facts and didn’t care.

Wow, Grace didn’t check the facts and didn’t care? As far as I can tell, this is normal operating procedure for Nancy Grace. It goes something like this:

  1. Accuse an individual of wrongdoing

  2. Use emotional language and imagery

  3. Report only facts which seem to support her theory

  4. Launch into ad hominem attacks against anyone who suggest she is jumping to conclusions or that the accused is innocent until proven guilty

What Does the Shift Toward Online Video Streaming Mean for Regulatory Policy?

Live Streaming

A flurry of announcements that HBOCBS, and Lionsgate and Tribeca Enterprises will stream video content online has prompted plenty of speculation about its potential success or impending failure. Some claim it proves that all consumers want to purchase video programming on an ‘à la carte’ basis. Others claim that HBO’s online service is “doomed before it even starts.”

I’m inclined to side with Representative Bobby Rush, who is optimistic that the trend will positively impact the video marketplace while remaining mindful that it’s too soon to predict the ultimate fate of à la carte video streaming.

Obama’s Internet power grab is all about cronyism

Obama's Net Neutrality

The Internet is pretty awesome. Thirty years ago, the idea that a decentralized network of millions of users and dozens of service providers could actually work in a functional way would seem crazy. Yet, the World Wide Web has triumphed as ultimate proof that markets work with minimal government regulation. From the work of millions of self-interested actors has emerged an awning electronic dimension where people can interact, learn, play, shop, and watch, at a minimal cost.

Apparently, not for the federal government. On Monday, President Barack Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to saddle Internet service providers (ISPs) with many of the same burdensome regulations that telephone companies have to comply with. Why would the president seek to regulate a network that seems to be working efficiently without the government? The answer, unsurprisingly, is cronyism.

For years, Internet giants like Facebook, Google, and Netflix have been pushing for network neutrality to avoid paying for the traffic their users hog from ISPs. As it currently stands, Netflix and YouTube account for half of all peak-hour download traffic in the United States, often leading to slow buffering speeds during prime hours. As a result, some ISPs have sought to provide better service to their customers by suggesting that the Netflix and YouTubes of the world pay slightly more for their users to stream videos faster — a pretty clear-cut win for customers if ever there was one.

Why the new Republican Congress has a mandate — in one chart

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On January 23, 2009, in a meeting with Congressional leaders about his stimulus proposal, newly-inaugurated President Obama responded to Republican critiques of his plan with, “I won.” In another meeting on February 25, 2010, this time about the soon-to-be-passed healthcare law, Obama responded to a question from John McCain about kickbacks in the bill with, “The election’s over.” And in a November 5, 2014 press conference after the recent midterm elections, President Obama still maintained the same stubborn arrogance about his political position by arguing that the 2/3 of the country who didn’t vote still support him. The facts, however, paint an entirely different picture.

On Election Day 2014 as each state’s results rolled in, and more Senate seats and even deep blue state governorships fell to the GOP, it was clear a wave election was taking place. Usually when a wave happens, the new majority party has mandate to pursue their policy. The Republican Revolution of 1994 caused President Clinton to retreat and compromise with the new majority on many planks of their Contract with America.

Our Veterans… and Those Who Would Forget Them

Veterans Day

The concept of American exceptionalism is one of those ideas that tends to be debated down ideological lines. Do we offer a better version of life here in this country, where we place a premium on things like freedom, the sanctity of human rights, and the messy beauty of diversity of thought and the power of unrestricted speech? Or is it all just some ego trip dreamed up by warmongers who want to leave a small legacy when they die? If one tends toward the former, which is to say they believe the United States offers something that has no precedent in human history, then chances are that person values the men and women who defend that unique system. However, if one tends toward the latter, they may find themselves agreeing with a recent Salon piece, presented in all its cynical glory by Legal Insurrection yesterday:

Most Americans appreciate the sacrifice these people make when they volunteer to join the military, putting their lives on the line to defend our freedoms.

The far left folks at Salon are not most people.

They have a slightly (ahem) different interpretation of that sacrifice and that’s why they published this piece by David Masciotra:

“You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy

Communists close borders while the free world lets the walls fall

25thanniversary

This is a photo of the 300,000 people who gathered yesterday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The freedom to travel is an inherent right that libertarians and conservatives sometimes take for granted. Perhaps this is a result of the U.S. government conditioning us to view travel as a privilege, because without a license from the Department of Motor Vehicles we cannot legally drive on public roads, and without being cleared for air travel by the Transportation Security Agency, we can’t fly.

The right to travel freely does not stop at state borders and it should not stop at international borders. And yet many of us support immigration reform in the form of stricter border control. After all, we can’t have open borders with a welfare state, and an increase in the number of needy people would increase the size of the already-bloated welfare state, including entitlements like Social Security which began running a deficit in 2010 which will quadruple in the next 20 years.

The size of the welfare state is a huge problem. Since the Congress seems incapable of cutting welfare spending, many people focus on changing the number of people receiving benefits. The most palatable policy changes that can temporarily address the number of people receiving Social Security checks is increasing the retirement age and making Social Security means-tested.

 


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