Popular posts

Thought Police alert: federal government dedicates $1 million to wage a war on memes

It’s never too late to wage a war on something you deem terrifying – if you’re the government. A recent report has highlighted the obvious: Washington has no idea of what to do with all the easy taxpayer cash it has access to.

It’s almost as if bureaucrats aren’t good at spending your money wisely!

According to The Week, the federal government is using a grant offered to the National Science Foundation to target memes. That’s right; Washington has used about $1 million of your money to finance a database of memes they deem suspicious. Officials, following instructions that tell them to single out any “suspicious memes” or any “false and misleading” political ideas that may have turned into memes, hunt for these images by browsing through social media websites.

The Indiana University is the official headquarters for the special “war on memes” department. The official title of the program is “Truthy.” It’s reportedly inspired on Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” concept.

And what do officials do while browsing for potentially life-threatening memes?

They look for the origin of the memes so they may identify the source as a professional political activist or just a good old Internet user like you, for an instance.

While the program seems harmless enough on the surface, one million dollars thrown at an effort to catalog memes and identify their sources so that the federal government can put up a web service offering the public info on suspicious meme trends seems eerily close to what a thought police would look like. Or am I just seeing things here?

Justice Department confirms the Lois Lerner emails still exist, proving that IRS officials are a pack of liars

Well, look at that. The Justice Department has confirmed to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch that the emails of several IRS officials, including those of Lois Lerner, still exist, despite claims that they’d been lost due to hard drive crashes and destroyed backup tapes:

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Justice Department lawyers informed him that the federal government keeps a back-up copy of every email and record in the event of a government-wide catastrophe.

The back-up system includes the IRS emails, too.

“So, the emails may inconvenient to access, but they are not gone with the [broken] hard drive,” Judicial Watch spokeswoman Jill Farrell told the Washington Examiner.

Judicial Watch is now seeking the release of the emails, which Justice Department lawyers say would be hard to find because of the significant size of the backup system.

Yeah, Judicial Watch is probably the least of the Justice Department and IRS’s concerns. The House Oversight and Government Reform and House Ways and Means committees, both of which are investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, aren’t going to care how difficult of a task it will be to recover these emails.

Here’s more evidence the IRS really doesn’t want Congress to know what Lois Lerner may have been doing

Judicial Watch just keeps on uncovering more information about the Internal Revenue Service’s actions both before and after its targeting of conservative groups became public knowledge.

The conservative watchdog group managed to get the Justice Department to admit that the missing emails, including those of Lois Lerner, still exist on a backup system. Now, via National Review, Judicial Watch has discovered that the IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry, after — yes, after — Congress began looking into the targeting scandal, and didn’t bother to save any of the information on it:

According to the second round of IRS affidavits submitted to U.S. district court judge Emmett Sullivan, who is presiding over the lawsuit brought against the nation’s tax agency by watchdog group Judicial Watch, Inc., IRS technical analysts did not search Lois Lerner’s Blackberry for her allegedly “lost” e-mails — and the smartphone was destroyed after congressional investigation had begun.

Rick Perry has prepared a constitutional defense to combat the utterly absurd indictment against him

Texas Governor Rick Perry is hoping to get the indictment against him dismissed. His attorneys filed a 60 page brief on Monday to get the case tossed out, mostly on constitutional grounds. Their arguments are interesting to read because of how thorough they are.

The main argument against the abuse of office charge is on the separation of powers in the Texas Constitution and the fact there is no evidence of wrongdoing on Perry’s part.

These are legitimate points to raise. It is within the governor’s power to veto funds. Here’s what the Texas Constitution says:

If any bill presented to the Governor contains several items of appropriation he may object to one or more of such items, and approve the other portion of the bill. In such case he shall append to the bill, at the time of signing it, a statement of the items to which he objects, and no item so objected to shall take effect. If the Legislature be in session, he shall transmit to the House in which the bill originated a copy of such statement and the items objected to shall be separately considered.

Obama is trying get around the Senate to enact a U.N. climate deal

There’s no ambiguity about the process by which the United States can enter into a treaty. The Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, states that a president “shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”

The ratification process is a very specific limitation on presidential power, one that provides a legislative check on the executive branch. But President Barack Obama can’t be bothered by the constitutional process. The New York Times reports that, in his latest move to get around Congress, President Obama’s State Department is negotiating a climate deal at the United Nations to update a 1992 treaty with new emission reduction targets (emphasis added):

Lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill say there is no chance that the currently gridlocked Senate will ratify a climate change treaty in the near future, especially in a political environment where many Republican lawmakers remain skeptical of the established science of human-caused global warming.
[…]
American negotiators are instead homing in on a hybrid agreement — a proposal to blend legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with new voluntary pledges. The mix would create a deal that would update the treaty, and thus, negotiators say, not require a new vote of ratification.

River of red ink continues: CBO says the budget deficit will top $500 billion this year

Although Washington isn’t running $1+ trillion budget deficits — like taxpayers saw from fiscal years 2009 to 2012 — the river of red ink is still flowing rapidly. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a new report this morning in which it revised upward the budget deficit for the current fiscal year (emphasis added):

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Wednesday raised its projection for this year’s federal deficit to $506 billion.

The budget office’s last report in April had projected the deficit for fiscal 2014 would top out at $492 billion on Sept. 30.

But the CBO said it is increasing the deficit figure now, in part, because receipts from corporate income taxes are turning out to be $37 billion less than expected.

This year’s deficit projection represents a major drop from the other years of the Obama presidency. Last year’s deficit was $680 billion, compared to the $1.1 trillion deficit the government racked up during Obama’s first year in the White House in 2009.

The CBO says the budget deficit will fall to $469 billion in FY 2015 before it slowly begins to tick back upward again. As you can see in the chart below, the budget deficit will approach $1 trillion by the end of the 10-year budget window:

Here’s why Rand Paul’s critics are epically wrong about foreign policy

The reaction to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s Wall Street Journal column on Middle East interventionism isn’t surprising. Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post called Paul “ignorant” and suggests he could be lying about the arguments for and against. Adriana Cohen at the Boston Herald called him “clueless” and someone who should “wake up to reality.” Pema Levy at Newsweek says Paul is just trying to copy a page out of President Barack Obama’s 2008 playbook regarding opposition to the Iraq War. The Democrats called Paul’s foreign policy slogan “Blame America. Retreat from the World.”

This isn’t true at all. He told Breitbart.com on August 27 he was in favor of airstrikes against ISIS, but wanted to talk to Congress first. That’s the Constitutional stance because Congress has to approve war.

Burger King looking to become a Canadian corporation because of the United States’ insane corporate tax code

U.S. fast food giant Burger King is looking to buy Tim Horton’s in Canada, and move its corporate headquarters to Canada. It’s a tax move called corporate inversion that’s been taken by companies that aren’t in the public eye like Burger King, and it’s been a bone of contention between Democrat and Republican lawmakers.

Democrats think that the solution to the problem lies in making it more difficult for American corporations to buy smaller companies abroad, to justify moving out of the U.S. Keeping businesses in America with competitive tax rates is the solution Republicans support. As for this particular case, Burger King is looking to save around 20 percent in taxes.

Canada’s corporate tax rate is 15 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The U.S. rate is 35 percent, the highest among OECD nations, although most businesses pay significantly lower effective rates.

The Washington Examiner pointed out one obvious problem. In addition to not being competitive, there is no such thing as a standard effective tax rate for businesses in the U.S. As we head into the mid-term elections, tax reform should be an issue of concern, especially corporate taxes.

America needs to be encouraging businesses to move here with low tax rates. President John F. Kennedy understood that, when he decreased taxes - it is always better to collect smaller amounts from more people and businesses than it is to continually increase tax burdens on few. As Burger King is showing, the few can choose to just move away.

Mike Huckabee’s cultural reactionarism isn’t the solution for America, liberty is

Mike Huckabee has joined a group called World Congress of Families (are they Workers too?) in opposing “sexual radicals” who previously opposed their upcoming conference in Australia. Unclear if the group also opposes long-haired hippie music, flowers, and Woodstock.

The letter signed by Huckabee and dozens of other theocrats and social reactionaries, including former Texas Congressman and terrible dancer Tom DeLay, claims to support the “international pro-family movement”. They of course specifically define the “natural family” as “a man and women united by faith and tradition, raising their children in a loving environment.” They don’t say if the combination of singular “man” and plural “women” is an intentional endorsement of polygamy or an unintentional one, nor if non-religious or childless couples count as families. They would probably grudgingly admit they are, as long as the genders were of the approved variety.

The end of the letter illuminates the real problem with Huckabee & Co’s worldview (and subsequent politics):

Yes, guns are a crime deterrent: Chicago sees crime rates fall after Illinois began issuing concealed carry permits

Don’t look now. Chicago may be beginning to shed its reputation as one of the most violent cities in the United States, though it has a long way to go. (Sorry, Rahm Emanuel.) The Washington Times reports that the Windy City has seen its crime rate fall by a noticeable margin, which, gun rights supporters note, came after Illinois began issuing concealed carry permits:

Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low.

“It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic — they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course — and yet you have these incredible numbers.”

As of July 29 the state had 83,183 applications for concealed carry and had issued 68,549 licenses. By the end of the year, Mr. Pearson estimates, 100,000 Illinois citizens will be packing. When Illinois began processing requests in January, gun training and shooting classes — which are required for the application — were filling up before the rifle association was able to schedule them, Mr. Pearson said.

 


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.