Jason Pye

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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:

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.

Leftist Hollywood superstars are giving big money to help Democrats keep the Senate

It’s not exactly breaking news that Tinseltown is full of people who are friendly to Democrats. Hollywood elites were big boosters of Barack Obama in both of his presidential campaigns. In 2012 alone, celebrities shelled out nearly $700,000 (and probably more) to Obama.

Hollywood is once again playing a role in an election, this time around writing checks for Democrats as they struggle to keep control of the Senate this fall. One of the main recipients of celebrities’ largess is Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY), who is taking on Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

[Grimes’] donor list reads like a who’s who of Tinseltown: producer J.J. Abrams, Ben Affleck, comedian Jack Black, “Avatar” director James Cameron, Nicolas Cage, Danny DeVito, Cameron Diaz, [Leonardo] DiCaprio, Jennifer Garner, director Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Jerry Seinfeld, Mike Myers and “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm, all giving $5,200 each, the maximum amount an individual can give to a single candidate in a two-year election cycle.

Other Grimes donors include DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Woody Allen, Ted Danson, America Ferrera, Leonard Nimoy, [Barbra] Streisand, “West Wing” writer Aaron Sorkin, Ben Stiller and Chris Rock.

While several other Democrats have received campaign contributions from Hollywood, Grimes’ campaign has brought in the most, with contributions totalling $100,000, according to The Hill.

Surprise! Obamacare “enrollees” aren’t making premium payments

Many of the purported Obamacare enrollees aren’t making their insurance premium payments. While the Obama administration touted the 8 million sign ups when the first open enrollment period, the House Energy and Commerce Committee reported in May that 20 percent of those consumers hadn’t paid their premiums as of mid-May.

But one major health insurers participating in the Obamacare exchanges has indicated that the number of customers not paying their premiums is a little higher, according to a report from Investor’s Business Daily:

The nation’s third-largest health insurer had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects that to fall to “just over 500,000” by the end of the year.

That would leave Aetna’s paid enrollment down as much as 30% from that May sign-up tally.

“I think we will see some attrition … We’re already seeing it. And we expect that to continue through the end of the year,” CEO Mark Bertolini said in a July 29 conference call.
[…]
[A]s one of ObamaCare’s largest players, participating in exchanges in 16 states plus D.C., Aetna’s experience provides a pretty good window into what is happening across the country, and there are other indications that enrollment has turned down.

Facebook announces big changes the “Big Data” game, and couldn’t come at a worse time for Republicans

facebook

In case you haven’t noticed, some of your favorite Facebook pages aren’t appearing in your “News Feed” as frequently as they used to. This is because the most widely used social media platform sought to increase its revenues by getting page owners to invest in “sponsored” posts to boost reach.

Prior to the big change, which took place late last year, page owners could invest in their brands by increasing the number of “likes.” It was essentially an addiction. They’d see their traffic soar and ad revenues rise. When Facebook changes its algorithm, page owners had to adjust, which is why users are seeing more reliance on graphics these days.

But the Facebook gods weren’t done there.

At the end of July, Facebook announced that it was implementing another round of changes, one that has implications for grassroots campaigns and organizations. Basically, according to a recent piece at Campaigns and Electionsapplications no longer have access to users’ friends list, something that had been a boon to political operations (emphasis added):

Facebook has allowed companies to develop apps that access the friend lists of users. For political targeters, this feature has been a handy way to connect Facebook to a voter file and automate the process of peer-to-peer voter contact.

Friend-access has been built into tools from NGP VAN and other vendors, and it worked like this: If a candidate’s supporters clicked a button to allow it, the technology would compare their lists of friends to the campaign’s priority list of outreach contacts—often voters who were hard to reach in other ways.

Oh, look, Mary Landrieu used a taxpayer-funded jet to attend a campaign fundraiser

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has been caught with her hand in the taxpayers’ cookie jar. CNN reports that Landrieu’s Senate office was billed $3,200 for a November charter flight from New Orleans to Lake Charles so she could attend a campaign fundraiser:

Landrieu spent more than $3,200 in taxpayer money to fly 400 miles round trip from New Orleans to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she attended a $40-per person fundraising lunch with hundreds of women, according to Senate records and Landrieu campaign information. It is illegal to spend government money campaigning.

Landrieu’s campaign spokesman, Fabien Levy, said in a statement that the charter company mistakenly billed Landrieu’s Senate office instead of her re-election campaign. Levy said the campaign noticed the error a few weeks ago and asked the company to refund the Senate office and bill the campaign, which the company did. Levy said Landrieu’s re-election campaign paid for the flight August 4, almost nine months after the November 8 trip.

Using taxpayer funds for campaign purposes is, of course, illegal. Landrieu’s office says that they noticed the error — at the end of July, some nine months after the trip. Conveniently, her office caught the indiscretion just before USA Today published a story on the $1 million worth of charter flights senators took last year. Landrieu was one of the top abusers, taking $47,000 worth of taxpayer-funded charter flights.

Although Landrieu’s office has dealt with the problem, some believe that she should still be held accountable for the “oversight”:

Global warming alarmist Al Gore doesn’t actually care about coal investors’ losses

Al Gore has made a pretty healthy living by fear-mongering about global warming. He’s written books and starred in a “documentary” about the subject and he’s invested heavily in green technology, an industry that is subsidized by the federal government (read: taxpayers). The former vice president has also won a Nobel Prize for his activism.

Gore took a different angle to his fear-mongering last week. Rather than play up the Hollywood-style apocalyptic effects of global warming, he candidly explained to coal investors that want may want to divest because they stand to lose money in the long-run:

In a Financial Times column Gore argues that it would be smart to divest from coal “for purely financial reasons,” setting aside the harmful impact he says it has on the environment.

Nancy Pelosi won’t be Speaker next year: Republicans are poised to keep control of the House, and probably pick up seats

Nancy Pelosi

Forget the annoying fundraising emails from House Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the talk from left-leaning pundits about the House being in play this fall. It just ain’t going to happen, folks. Because math, as USA Today notes:

In 2012, congressional district lines were redrawn, as is constitutionally required every 10 years, based on population shifts. Republicans had the upper hand in many states after the GOP won control of governorships and state legislatures following the 2010 Tea Party wave. The end result has been a precipitous drop in the number of competitive seats and a rise in the number of seats considered so safely Republican or Democratic that they are unlikely to ever switch party control.

Today, roughly 50 districts in the 435-member House make up the entirety of the 2014 battleground.

The non-partisan Cook Political Report ranks just 16 of those districts, 13 held by Democrats and three by Republicans, as competitive enough that neither party has a clear advantage with fewer than 100 days to go before Election Day.

The current House makeup includes 234 Republicans and 199 Democrats, and there are two vacant seats that are safely Democratic. That means Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats for a takeover. They’d have to pick up 17 Republican seats and lose none of their own, or make even greater gains in GOP territory to make up for any losses.

Basically, Democrats have virtually no shot of taking control of the House this year. The numbers just aren’t there. Obviously, there are some other factors in the mid-term equation as well.

Hillary Clinton’s big criticism of Barack Obama is that he didn’t go to war against Syria

Back in June, Cato Institute Vice President Gene Healy shed some light on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy record. No, we’re not talking about her cataclysmic failure in Benghazi or any of her other mistakes during her time in Foggy Bottom.

Healy’s warning was that Clinton — throughout the course of her national profile as first lady, U.S. senator, Secretary of State, and, now, Democratic presidential nominee in waiting — has never met a war she didn’t like. She helped present the case for the Iraq war and the ties between Saddam Hussein’s regime and terrorist elements — ties, by the way, that didn’t exist.

More recently, Healy notes, Clinton urged President Obama to intervene in Libya. And, of course, the Obama administration joined the NATO campaign in 2011 to depose the North African country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. The intervention in Libya — which is, basically, in the midst of an internal conflict so violent that both the U.N. and the U.S. have evacuated staffers from their embassies — is generally thought to be one of this administration’s foreign policy blunders.

Clinton was also supportive of U.S. intervention against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. President Obama, however, didn’t take that step, largely due to congressional and public opposition to yet another war.

But Clinton is now criticizing President Obama’s approach to foreign policy, an approach she helped craft during in four years as his secretary of state. In an interview with The Atlantic, Clinton criticized the White House for not throwing its full weight behind the Syrian rebels fighting Assad’s regime:

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