Jason Pye

Recent Posts From Jason Pye

Rick Perry has been indicted for doing his job while Barack Obama gets away with power grab after power grab

Let’s go through this for a moment. You have a president who regularly abuses his constitutional power by going around Congress to make law via executive fiat. And, in Texas, there’s a governor who used his state constitutional authority to veto funding for a “public integrity unit” run by district attorney convicted of a crime.

There’s no question that politics is at the center of the so-called corruption indictment of Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX). The Texas Public Integrity Unit is led by Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat. Perry vetoed funding for the unit last year, noting that Lehmberg, who was arrested for drunk driving in April 2013 and sentenced to 45 days in jail, lost the confidence of the public.

Lehmberg was trashed when she was arrested. “A blood test taken at the jail several hours after her arrest put her blood-alcohol content at .239,” The Austin Chronicle reported not long after the incident, “nearly three times the legal limit for driving.” Obviously, the arrest was problematic in itself, but her behavior when she was being processed by jailers was the most troublesome aspect of the incident.

A report from Austin-based KXAN shows video clips of Lehmberg resisting jailers and kicking the door to her holding cell. The report also shows her in a restraint chair, a precaution that jailers took given her erratic behavior.

Obama interrupts his vacation to return to Washington for meetings on foreign and domestic crises

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has finally figured out that the optics of a two-week vacation in Martha’s Vineyard while Ferguson, Missouri and parts of the Middle East are on fire may not sit well with the American public. So, he decided to interrupt his vacation to return to Washington:

In a rare move for him, the president planned a break in the middle of his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to return to Washington on Sunday night for unspecified meetings with Vice President Joe Biden and other advisers.

The White House has been cagey about why the president needs to be back in Washington for those discussions.

Part of the decision appears aimed at countering criticism that Obama is spending two weeks on a resort island in the midst of so many foreign and domestic crises.

Yet those crises turned the first week of Obama’s vacation into a working holiday. He made on-camera statements on U.S. military action in Iraq and the clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. He called foreign leaders to discuss the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, as well as between Israel and Hamas.
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Obama is scheduled to return to Martha’s Vineyard on Tuesday and stay through next weekend.

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.
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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:

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.
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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.
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[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.

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