Today in Liberty: CIA apologists pushing back against criticism, federal contractors plan to fight Obama’s latest power grab

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin

— CIA apologists pushing back against criticism: Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) defended CIA Director John Brennan in an appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation after the Agency admitted to spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers. “If I thought John Brennan knew about this then…certainly we’d be calling for his resignation,” said Chambliss. “But I will tell you that these five staffers that did this — if they worked for me, they’d be gone now. But the accountability board has been convened, and they will be looking into this, and they will be dealt with accordingly.” Chambliss also defended torture techniques, specifically waterboarding, and claimed that the Senate’s probe into the CIA’s use of those methods is partisan. Research, however, shows that torture isn’t as effective as the likes of Chambliss and others suggest. President Obama said on Friday that he has “full confidence” in Brennan.

— Gun rights are expanding, and you can thank federal courts: The recent ruling that struck down the District of Columbia’s gun ban is just the latest in a string of federal court decisions that have expanded concealed carry. “First came a federal appeals court in Chicago, which ruled the state’s ban on concealed carry unconstitutional. If Americans have a right to use guns for self-defense, the court found, they logically must be allowed to carry them in public. “To confine the right to be armed to the home,” it said, “is to divorce the Second Amendment from the right of self-defense” affirmed by the Supreme Court,” Chapman writes in his latest column. “This year, a federal appeals court in San Francisco took a similar stance…At least three other federal courts have declined to reach that conclusion, which means that eventually the Supreme Court will have to settle the matter. A court that has gone this far in giving force to the right to keep and bear arms is not a good bet to stop now.” It’s not a certainty that the Supreme Court will once again defer to the Second Amendment. After all, justices recently turned away a case dealing with New Jersey’s onerous concealed carry permit regulations. But the Court, as Chapman notes, has set the precedent for more gun rights victories.

— Federal contractors aren’t happy with Obama’s latest executive order: President Obama has ordered new federal regulations that would require companies seeking federal contracts to disclose any labor violations, which, they say, means more regulatory compliance costs for them. “We are concerned these sweeping changes threaten the due process rights of federal contractors and conflict with existing federal procurement and labor law,” Geoff Burr of Associated Builders and Contractors told The Hill. “ABC and the federal contracting community across all industries are prepared to fight this order in the courts and in Congress.” The Hill notes that the executive order “applies to roughly 24,000 businesses with federal contracts, employing about 28 million workers.”

— Backlash against Common Core not just coming from the right: While the opposition to Common Core has been driven by conservatives, especially after the Obama administration endorsed the education standards, there is plenty of noise coming from the left, too. “[T]here has also been vocal opposition from blue states – some around the standards themselves, particularly for younger grades, but much of it around implementation, as well as the tests and high-stakes consequences tied to the new standards,” the Christian Science Monitor explains. “The varied quality of ‘Common Core-aligned’ textbooks hasn’t helped. This spring, the Chicago Teachers Union became one of the biggest local unions to officially oppose Common Core.” There has been opposition to Common Core in New York, as well. To date, however, only three states — Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina — have dropped Common Core.

— Say goodbye to school bake sales: Beginning this fall, school bake sales will have to comply with federal nutrition requirements set to take effect this fall. “The restrictions that took effect in July stem from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by first lady Michelle Obama and her ‘Let’s Move!’ campaign. The law overhauled nutrition standards affecting more than 30 million children. Among the changes: fatty french fries were out, while baked sweet potato fries were deemed to be fine,” the Wall Street Journal explains. “In advance of the law, some schools had already banned students from a near-sacred activity: setting up tables to sell boxes of Girl Scout cookies during the day. There are also those that have replaced food-centric fundraisers with calorie-free events such as wrapping-paper sales, pie-throwing events and bowl-a-thons. Others have prohibited homemade fare in favor of processed items where the nutritional information is calculated and displayed.”

— Censure may be an option for House Republicans: The lawsuit that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) plans to file against President Obama is more about optics than anything else, and it’s surely not going to do a lot to placate his conference as the White House keeps pushing out executive orders to get around Congress. Impeachment may be politically impossible, but John Fund says censure is an option that the House could consider. “A resolution of censure would serve as a warning, a sort of constitutional yellow card, that Congress and the American people will not tolerate abuses of power indefinitely and that presidents who so overreach risk having a permanent blot on their record,” Fund writes. “President Obama should not be removed from office, but we will need more than mere criticism or even a lawsuit to remind him that his first duty is to uphold the laws, and that he is falling short.”

— Rand Paul to stump for Ben Sasse: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will visit Omaha, Nebraska today to campaign for Ben Sasse, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in the Cornhusker State. “I look forward to joining Ben Sasse in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday. Ben will bring much needed common sense solutions to the halls of Congress,” Paul said in a press release. “Our nation needs leaders like Ben Sasse, who will take a stand for the Constitution and for limited government. Onwards to victory!” This is a late addition to Paul’s trip to the midwest, which is almost exclusively centered around a three-day swing in Iowa.

— Rand Paul endorses Tim Huelskamp: Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) has picked up an endorsement from Rand Paul. Tim Huelskamp has been a champion for the constitution in congress. While many in congress sit idly by as our government grows, Tim has always stood with me to support lower taxes, less regulations and keeping our federal government under control,” Paul said in the endorsement. “Tim is a fighter who will always stand up for liberty. It is vital for Kansans and Americans across this nation to support Tim in his reelection efforts. I urge everyone to support Tim Huelskamp.” Huelskamp does have a primary opponent, Alan LaPolice, but he doesn’t appear to be in any trouble. The Kansas primary will take place tomorrow, August 5.

— Regulatory bill jumps to $111 billion: It was another busy week for federal bureaucrats. “Regulators published $6.1 billion in regulatory costs this week, or $19 for every person in the U.S. Annualized costs were $406 million, compared to $225 million in benefits. There were 105,000 new paperwork burden hours. A proposed safety standards regulation for railway tank cars led the week,” Sam Batkins of American Action Forum notes in his weekly roundup. “Since January 1, the federal government has published $111.5 billion in compliance costs and has imposed 19.6 million in net paperwork burden hours.” American Action Forum has the full list of regulations published in 2014 available here.

Other stories we’re reading this morning:

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