Uber learns its lesson: In Washington, you only go legit when you go full crony

David Plouffe and Uber

Before Catherine Ann Novelli, Apple’s VP for “global government affairs,” was nominated as the Obama administration’s under secretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment, Congress used the excuse Apple moved money around to reduce its owed taxes while simply following the tax code to grill its CEO Tim Cook.

Politicians who were angry Apple didn’t use its influence to gain some leverage with lawmakers by creating political action committees used this official investigation to serve as a way to teach Apple - and other companies - just how they must proceed to be allowed to play the game.

The message was clear: either ramp up your lobbying and spend more of your hard-earned money on political campaign efforts, or be prepared for a major Beltway shakedown.

Unlike Apple, Uber - the transportation company that was recently under the spotlight for being threatened by the Taxi cartel - did not wait until a shakedown was put in place to act; the company has recently hired President Obama’s former campaign manager and White House adviser David Plouffe as a senior vice president of policy and strategy.

What does that mean? That his influence in Washington will help assure Uber’s strong ties with government are in place, helping sustain the company’s dominance over the industry.

Ferguson, the 2nd Amendment, and Militiarized Police

Ferguson, Missouri

Things seem to be calming down a bit in Ferguson, and that’s good. It proves that people can, and do, behave rationally despite a national news media stirring the pot with constant, perhaps sensationalist, coverage.

There’s little need to rehash the details, and the Grand Jury has begun collecting evidence to get to the facts of the Michael Brown case. Also good, because there’s every possibility that, even if this case proves that Officer Wilson was by-the-book justified, there may be some problem with police overzealousness in Ferguson, perhaps related to race (although class structure may be a bigger culprit, as is usually the case).

But the one very interesting debate that has emerged is the notion of police militarization and if our community police forces are looking more and more like civilian armies ready to squash any protest — peaceful and justified or otherwise — before grievances can be heard. And how, exactly, can people distrust that kind of policing and still be in favor of the 2nd Amendment?

Watch MSNBC’s Chris Matthews blast Barack Obama over his response to ISIS

Chris Matthews, the MSNBC talk show host who once said that Barack Obama gave him a “thrill up [his] leg,” isn’t happy with the President’s response to the brutal execution of James Foley in Iraq at the hands of Islamic militants.

In a segment on Wednesday evening, Matthews blasted President Obama’s statement on Foley’s death and his promise to see his killers are brought to “justice.”

“I don’t know why he used the word ‘justice.’ It’s not appropriate here. This is an attack on our country, we have to react to it,” said Matthews, according Newsbusters. “This is our country versus this group that’s declared war on us. What’s justice mean in this con— I don’t know why the word’s used, like we’re going to go to the World Court with this?”

Just after he gave the statement on Foley’s death, The Hill reported that President Obama, who returned to Martha’s Vineyard to finish his vacation on Tuesday after a two-day visit to Washington, “hit the golf course” with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, among others.

Federal judge orders Eric Holder to turn over a list Fast and Furious documents to a House committee

A federal judge has delivered a blow to the White House and the Justice Department’s attempt to keep information related to Operation Fast and Furious out of the hands of members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Although she didn’t order the release of the documents themselves, Judge Amy Berman Jackson did order Attorney General Eric Holder’s department to send a list of the documents to the committee:

Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the Justice Department must provide the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with a list of documents — but not the documents themselves — withheld on the gunrunning operation.

The agency has until Oct. 1 to turn over the documents, Jackson said during a status hearing.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight panel, cheered the ruling.

“This administration has been so intent on hiding the contents of these documents that it allowed Attorney General Holder to be held in contempt instead of just turning them over to Congress,” Issa said. “The privilege log will bring us closer to finding out why the Justice Department hid behind false denials in the wake of reckless conduct that contributed to the violent deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and countless Mexican citizens.”

Venezuela’s socialist government is now rationing food after prices controls proved to be a miserable failure

Venezuela food shortages

The socialist government of Venezuela is, basically, rationing food. With food shortages a concern, one that’s been around for some time and was one of the issues at the center of protests earlier this year, its implementing a biometric system that will track how much people buy to stop them from overbuying:

The Venezuelan Executive Office is to implement a biometric system for the purchase of food in private supermarkets, for the purpose of controlling the sale of staples per individual. Authorities have outlined the move seeks to “collect data on Venezuelans’ purchases, included items and frequency” in order to tackle food smuggling.

With the mechanism, customers’ identity card numbers and fingerprints will be recorded, so as to prevent them from buying the same product more than once during the same week.

The current Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, has continued the most of Hugo Chavez’s policies and announced the biometric food rationing system in the spring. Maduro, who’s led the country since March 2013, has blamed hoarders, smugglers, and the Central Intelligence Agency for the food shortage.

Hilarious: “Air Mary” taunts vulnerable Louisiana Democrat at a Baton Rouge event

The Louisiana Republican Party is trolling Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) over her use of public funds to fly to campaign fundraisers. A group of protesters, dressed in flight uniforms, followed the vulnerable Senate Democrat to an event in Baton Rouge on Wednesday where the held up “Air Mary” signs.

Here’s the video via America Rising:

Landrieu isn’t just under fire for taking at least four trips to campaign fundraisers on the taxpayer dime, but also her excessive use of charter planes. In 2013 alone, for example, Landrieu’s Senate office dropped $47,000 on charter flights for visits to her home state.

Kroger is standing up for its customers in the face of intimidation from a Michael Bloomberg-backed anti-gun group

Kroger

Since more restrictive gun control measures are a nonstarter in Congress, Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense, an organization supported by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been on a crusade in recent months to pressure retailers and chain stores into banning firearms from their properties.

Many of the anti-gun group’s targets — including Chipotle, Starbucks, and Target — have acquiesced to their demands. But Kroger, one of the United States’ largest groceries stores, isn’t bending to the pressure, according to this recent story from the Wall Street Journal:

“When a company like Kroger doesn’t have a policy around guns, it seems to send a signal to gun extremists that they tacitly support or even endorse things like open carry,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.
[…]
A spokesman for Kroger, which also owns chains including Harris Teeter and Fred Meyer, said corporate policies abiding by state and local laws are sufficient to protect customers. “Millions of customers are present in our busy grocery stores every day and we don’t want to put our associates in a position of having to confront a customer who is legally carrying a gun,” said Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey. “We know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue and we trust them to be responsible in our stores.”

Keep in mind that many states in which Kroger has stores allow residents to carry, provided they’re properly licensed or in compliance with state and local regulations.

ISIS must be destroyed: The murder of James Foley should spur the golfer-in-chief into action

JF

Most Americans, libertarians especially, and the writers on this site in particular, were skeptical about going back into Iraq with military force to defend the Iraqis and Kurds from the Islamic State (ISIS) extremist group’s conquest.

It’s really not our fight anymore. We were there for eight years fighting the Hussein regime, then insurgent forces, and training the Iraqi military to defend itself and maintain the peage. Still, polls showed support for limited airstrikes against ISIS targets to protect especially vulnerable civilian populations

That all changed on Tuesday when a video surfaced (but will not be linked here) of an American, AP photographer James Foley, being horrifically decapitated by an ISIS representative (and apparently British citizen) as a warning over our limited involvement in the situation. This was exactly the wrong tactic if ISIS wanted to keep us away.

However deep your pacifism, isolationism, or non-interventionism runs, the brutal public execution of an American citizen is a red line that must not be crossed without consequence. We can debate Congressional authorization, tactical targets, strategic objectives, operational scopes, or international assistance, but we must respond swiftly and unflinchingly.

Common Core support is crumbling: Opponents still have a long way to go, but they’re shifting the narrative

There is a growing movement inside Congress and states legislatures to fight back against the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and it looks like it’s beginning to bear some fruit. Over at Reason, Robby Soave reports on a new poll showing the tide turning against the the college- and career-ready standards:

The numbers come courtesy of an Education Next poll. In 2013, 65 percent of people supported Common Core. That number fell to a slim 53 percent majority this year—much of that support coming from Democrats, who remained largely unchanged in their overall opinion.

The results for both Republicans and teachers are even more staggering, however. The Republican numbers changed from 57 percent in favor to just 43 percent in favor and the teachers changed from 76 percent in favor to 46 percent.

These results are significant, since they chip away at key assertions made by the backers of Common Core. The backers have often maintained that opposition to Common Core stems from misinformation and that those who understand the new standards best—i.e., teachers—liked them just fine. That is clearly no longer true.

The premise of Common Core is that the same education standards would be applied across the United States. States that participate in Common Core are allowed to develop their math and language arts curricula.

There’s at least one Democrat who wants Barack Obama to help out his campaign, and here’s why he may regret it

Charlie Crist is bucking the trend. While most Democrats running competitive races in purple and red states don’t want to come anywhere near President Barack Obama and his administration, Crist, who is running for governor of Florida as a Democrat, isn’t exactly shying away:

While some high-profile Democrats are distancing themselves from President Obama on the campaign trial, Florida gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist isn’t one of them.

When asked Tuesday if would welcome the president’s campaign help, Crist responded, “I hope so,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“I hope everybody does,” said the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat.

It’s almost like Crist hasn’t learned from that ill-advised hug he gave President Obama in 2009 when the commander-in-chief visited Florida to promote the stimulus bill. Crist was a Republican governor at the time who was also seeking the state’s open Senate seat.

The hug Crist shared with President Obama as well as his general squishiness on issues turned out to be a boon for Marco Rubio. Crist left the Republican Party and became an independent, though one seeking Democrat support. Rubio won the race. Crist decided that he’d give electoral politics another go, this time as a full-fledged Democrat.

 


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