News

Georgia Legislature to Consider Modest Reforms for ‘No-Knock’ Raids

No Knock Raid

On May 28th, 2014 around 3:00 a.m. in Habersham County, Georgia a SWAT team raided a house the police believed to be occupied by Wanis Thonetheva, an alleged drug dealer. In the chaos of the raid instead were four children and up to four adults. The youngest of the children, 19 month-old “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh was burned and permanently disfigured from a flash-bang grenade which set the play pen he was sleeping in ablaze.

No drugs or contraband of any kind was found in the home. Also absent from the residence was the man they were looking for.

Bou Bou was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta where he was put into a medically induced coma. Doctors were not sure if the toddler would ever wake up but fortunately, he did. This is not by any means, the end of the Phonesavanh family’s problems with Bou Bou’s medical expenses around $1.6 million and surgeries into adulthood. These expenses, by the way, that will not be paid by the county or the departments responsible for severely injuring this child.

Supreme Court Rejects NSA Phone Spying Case

After U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s preliminary injunction was issued back in December, which kept the NSA from gathering metadata pertaining to certain Verizon customers who took part in a lawsuit filed by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, the Supreme Court decided to refrain from reviewing the case.

According to Judge Leon’s ruling, the Justice Department didn’t produce enough evidence to make him believe that the massive surveillance program was justified, which led to his decision to call the NSA’s surveillance programs unconstitutional.

The decision was announced Monday.

Per the rules of the court, at least four of the nine justices must agree on taking up the cause for a full review before it’s accepted, but since the process failed to grant the case a go, the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program remains unchecked by the Supreme Court.

The debate over President Barack Obama’s proposal to change how data gathered by private companies will be stored has also sparked this administration’s harshest critics, especially when it comes to the unconstitutional surveillance programs carried out by the NSA.

Obama set to use pen to control worker salaries

When President Obama started talking about getting around Congress with his phone and his pen, we all knew it was not going to end well. Increasing the minimum wage for government contractors hasn’t really had a chance to show any ill effects, so it makes sense that the president is already leaping into fair labor regulations, to start causing havoc in private industry.

The current cause is to force employers to pay overtime to salaried workers. There are already exemptions based on income that would possibly come into play, but they haven’t been adjusted for inflation on the Federal level since 2004. That said, there might be a valid argument to revisit those caps, but to force employers to pay overtime to salaried workers in general is not something any competent leader should consider in a soft job market.

Government increasing liabilities on businesses on a per employee basis is never a good idea when the economy needs private industry to be creating jobs. That is something that keeps getting lost in the shuffle for many reasons, but the two most obvious are the fact that the administration has changed the equations for determining the unemployment rate, and has reduced expectations for reasonable growth. What does that mean? It means that we don’t count people that have dropped out of the unemployment system into the welfare system, and the “new normal” is not really growth — it’s barely treading water.

Snowden raised concerns with supervisors before going to the press

It’s still hard for some of us to grasp the motives behind Edward Snowden’s decision to go straight to the press.

Some question why government officials were never warned that pressing concerns related to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs had to be addressed , and some even question the goals behind the final disclosure of the confidential programs to the press.

While all questions are valid and should be addressed timely, recent reports show that Snowden’s recent testimony to the European Parliament assured the public that his concerns had been discussed with at least 10 officials before he decided to go to the press. According to the report, Snowden would have a hard time pursuing any further whistleblowing mainly because of his status as a contractor.

According to the testimony, the decision to go to the press to leak confidential documents only came to Snowden after he exhausted all other formal avenues.

When asked about the circumstances, Snowden replied that he “had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than ten distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them.” Edward Snowden’s status as an employee of a private company hired by the U.S. government makes it impossible for the contractor to be protected by whistleblower laws, which are only valid to U.S. government direct employees.

Snowden claimed that because he encountered these legal issues, he feared he “would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about lawbreaking in accordance with the recommended process.”

Contrary to what Pelosi says, there are plenty of budget cuts to be made

It might not come as a shock to some of you, but the Treasury Department has announced that, unless Congress increases the country’s borrowing limit, it will no longer be able to pay its bills.

This announcement follows comments made by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) concerning the efforts of Republican members to restraint government spending. According to the House Minority Leader, the conservative push for any cuts to the federal budget is pointless.

Pelosi stated that “it’s really important that people understand” that there’s no more cuts to make to the federal budget, which has increased to $3.8 trillion this year, as opposed to $1.9 trillion per year up until 2001.

What Nancy Pelosi doesn’t seem to understand is that the American people can no longer afford to cover the expenses of a series of programs that could indeed be trimmed. With that in mind, experts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute decided to make a list of several programs that could be cut or trimmed to give Congress, and especially skeptics such as Nancy Pelosi, an idea of where they can start if they are indeed willing to ensure the American people are no longer forced to foot a bill they never signed up for.

According to the institute, about $1.2 billion could be saved if Congress took aim at the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The EERE’s goal is to offer training, resources and funding toward “business, industry, universities and others” who are willing to focus on increasing the use “of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.”

NLRB Illegally Wades into Labor Dispute; Private Sector Fights Back

Just a couple of short years after using litigation to intimidate Boeing into either allowing new South Carolina employees to organize, or to move those new jobs to a state with stronger labor protections, two regional directors of Obama’s National Labor Relations Board asserted themselves in a labor dispute in New York earlier this year between Cablevision and the Communications Workers of America union. The NLRB, however, doesn’t have the authority to wade into the dispute because a D.C. Circuit Court ruled in January that Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB were illegal.

Cablevision, according to the Wall Street Journal, sought emergency injunctive relief from that same D.C. Circuit Court earlier this year to stop the NLRB from trying to adjudicate the dispute in the agency’s administrative court:

Cablevision is petitioning the D.C. Circuit to issue a writ of mandamus—a direct court order—prohibiting the NLRB from proceeding with unfair-labor-practice complaints against it and its parent company, CSC Holdings. Cablevision’s rationale is straightforward: The same D.C. Circuit ruled in January that President Obama’s non-recess recess appointments to the NLRB were illegal. Thus, the board has been operating without a quorum since January 2012….

Too Good to Check: Ben & Jerry’s Ben Cohen Now Buying Issue Support with Free Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen is waging a new campaign to reform the campaign finance system, and to “get money out of politics.” But Cohen is no stranger to injecting a lot of his own money into politics, and his latest gambit makes him a hypocrite of the highest degree, as the Ben & Jerry’s company and its parent company Unilever bear the financial costs of his advocacy.

Ben & Jerry's truck

You might say Cohen is delivering the bullshit by the truckload these days. Politico Influence reports:

BEN & JERRY’S DEFENDS FREE ICE CREAM TO FIGHT CORPORATE INFLUENCE: Last week, POLITICO reported that Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen is fighting the Citizens United decision by stamping dollar bills with anti-money-in-politics messages. Anyone who presents a stamped dollar bill gets a free ice cream. PI asked Ben & Jerry’s ‘Grand Poobah’ of communications Sean Greenwood who was paying for the effort - noting that it would be a bit ironic for a for-profit corporation to fight influence-peddling by giving away free ice cream.

Progressive Journalists: NOW we’ll be tougher on Obama

news_social_blue.jpg

There’s been a lot of ink (digital or otherwise) by conservatives and libertarians about the lack of critical thinking on the part of much of the press regarding President Obama and his policies.  I’ve been accused of just being paranoid (which may be true), but it looks like there is some validity to the argument.

In conversations with POLITICO, some of the left’s most influential voices in media said that, with the concerns of re-election over, they intend to be more critical of the president’s performance and more aggressive in urging him to pursue a progressive agenda as the clock ticks on his last four years in office.

“Liberals in the media are going to be tougher on Obama and more respectful at the same time,” Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker’s chief political commentator and a former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, told POLITICO. “He was the champion of our side, he vanquished the foe….. [but] now liberals don’t have to worry about hurting his chances for re-election, so they can be tougher in urging him to do what he should be doing.”

“In a tight election, people were sensitive to anything that would jeopardize the president’s re-election,” said Melber. “There’s no question that a second term changes the center of gravity for any administration: There is no reasonable argument that criticism will result in the defeat of Barack Obama.”

 

“Whither the ‘Challenge and Question Authority’ Liberals?”

That’s the title of an opinion piece I wrote for The Daily Caller which you can read in its entirety here.

A selection:

…in the market for political representation, the powerful thrive on market failure. Economics teaches us that (near-) perfect information is a prerequisite for well functioning markets. Thus, in the market for political representation, the press plays the critical role of finding and relaying information to the public it otherwise would not have, of correcting an information asymmetry. When the press cannot (or does not) do its job, or when the government will not allow it to do so, the government enjoys surplus political capital (support, votes, power) at the expense of the governed.

It is deeply troubling that reporters have succumbed so far to this paradigm of failure that an incident like Friday’s [kerfuffle between The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro and President Obama] shocked the status quo such that a veteran Washington reporter found himself castigated openly by his colleagues.

I hope you’ll read the rest, and share with your friends!

Cross-posted.

Problems with Involving Minors in Politics

Cross-posted from The Dangerous Servant

When I was six or seven years old, a new Nashville resident, I remember vividly going to the Nashville Fair Grounds with my parents to visit the flea market, and our family being approached by campaign volunteers for then-Mayoral candidate Phil Bredesen, a centrist Republican who never won on a Republican ticket until he switched parties years later. He would later become one of Nashville’s most popular Democratic mayors and one of Tennessee’s most popular Democratic governors; on a personal note, he played an instrumental role in bringing my beloved NHL expansion franchise Nashville Predators to the Music City in the late 1990s, and he and former First Lady Andrea Conte were vocal critics of Research in Motion CEO Jim Balsillie’s sneaky, manipulative coup to buy the Predators and relocate them to Hamilton, Ontario in the summer of 2007.

But I digress.

At the fair, we were given and wore white stickers and pin-on buttons that had depicted blue bones with a circle and diagonal bar around and over them; Bredesen’s opponent in that race was a man named Bill Boner.


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