Lois Lerner, the disgraced former IRS official, again invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing into the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.
“My counsel has advised me that I have not waived my constitutional rights under the Firth Amendment,” Lerner told Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) in response to a question about her comments on Citizens United, “and on his advice, I will decline to answer any question on the subject matter of this hearing.”
“So you’re not going to tell us who wanted to fix the problem caused by Citizens United?” Issa asked, to which Lerner replied, “On the advice of my counsel, I respectively exercise my Fifth Amendment right and decline to answer the question.”
Facebook could soon be changing its policy concerning pro gun-related pages after a recent arrest involving a 15-year-old high school student carrying a loaded gun was traced back to a transaction that may have involved the teen’s friendship with a man he met through Facebook.
Anti-gun groups such as Mayors Against illegal Guns and the Moms Demand Action civic group, might also be involved. According to sources mentioned by VentureBeat, Facebook has been under pressure of the previously mentioned groups to ban gun-themed fan pages on the social media site as of late.
Both groups reportedly want to pressure the company to change its policies with the help of a petition started by Moms Demand Action that gathered over 94,000 signatures so far. The petition has only one goal: keeping Facebook “out of the gun business.”
The company issued a statement defending that users are not allowed to use the platform to sell or buy firearms, just like they cannot “promote the sale or use of weapons in advertising.” Facebook stated that illegal activities should be reported immediately to the social media administration with the help of readily available Facebook reporting tools, making it easier for them to address any potential issue promptly.
While Facebook is a private company and its executives are free to decide to stir their policies toward the direction that strikes their fancy, banning gun-related fan pages could eventually backfire.
For the second year in a row, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) presidential straw poll. The poll also found that libertarians are increasingly growing in influence.
Paul took 31% of the 2,459 votes cast, up from the 25% he earned in the 2013 iteration of the straw poll. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finished in a distant second place, with 11%. Dr. Ben Carson finished third, taking 9%.
“I am grateful to all the attendees who stood with me. The fight for liberty continues, and we must continue to stand up and say: We’re free and no one, no matter how well-intentioned, will take our freedoms from us. Together we will stand up for the Constitution. Together we will fight for what is right,” said Paul in a statement from RandPAC. “Thank you and onwards to victory.”
Tony Frabrizio, who announced the results to CPAC attendees, explained that 46% of straw poll voters were between the ages of 18 and 25 and 18% were between 26 and 40.
There’s a new wrinkle in the controversial Obamacare exemption for those who work on Capitol Hill. In addition to a generous 75% subsidy to cover the cost of pricey health plans on the exchange, members of Congress and their staffers will be able to revert back to coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program when they decide to retire:
Under a rule issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) late last year, members and staff who retire will be able to revert back to health coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). That’s the same coverage that thousands of other federal workers can use when they retire.
The FEHBP lets government retirees choose from a range of options, including health savings accounts, PPOs or HMOs. And none of it has anything to do with ObamaCare.
OPM had not included a retirement escape clause in its August draft of the rule on congressional coverage. But this flexibility was added in its October 2 final rule, after “numerous commenters” called on OPM to reconsider.
OPM ultimately agreed with those commenters, and said that when read closely, the law only applies to members and staff “while they are employed in those positions.”
Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA), gave a fiery speech yesterday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in which he decried the media and called on attendees to stop President Barack Obama’s anti-gun agenda.
“History has proven again the truth that President Obama and anti-freedom activists everywhere deny and try to empress: the truth that firearms in the hands of good people save lives,” said LaPierre. “The political elites can’t escape and the darlings in the media can’t change the God-given right of good people to protect themselves.”
There’s nothing wrong with that statement in and of itself. The White House and congressional Democrats tried (and failed) last year to enact more onerous gun control laws. The media often painted an unflattering picture of Second Amendment activists and frequently pilloried the LaPierre and NRA.
“For that fundamental human, the NRA stands unflinching and unapologetic and in defense of our freedom,” said LaPierre. “NRA’s 5 million members and America’s 100 million gun owners will not back down, not now, not ever. I assure you that.”
Google claims its business philosophy is the simple, warm-and-fuzzy, “Don’t be evil.” But behind the scenes, the data-trolling and -selling operations the company perpetrates on end-users could hardly be considered noble; at best they might be called self-serving, and at worst a violation of privacy. And now, the corporate juggernaut is using its connections to a high-level lobbyist foundation to buy positive spin and government influence to protect one of its biggest cash cows.
The New York Times recently ran this article, defining Google+, Google’s social network hub that now acts as the backbone of its universal login services. It’s become the easiest method by which Google can track online behavior and commercialize marketing profiles of web users to online advertisers:
Google Plus may not be much of a competitor to Facebook as a social network, but it is central to Google’s future — a lens that allows the company to peer more broadly into people’s digital life, and to gather an ever-richer trove of the personal information that advertisers covet. Some analysts even say that Google understands more about people’s social activity than Facebook does.
The reason is that once you sign up for Plus, it becomes your account for all Google products, from Gmail to YouTube to maps, so Google sees who you are and what you do across its services, even if you never once return to the social network itself.
President Barack Obama appears to have ignored the Democrats’ decision to pass on pushing through a budget and decided to make a move on his own.
Obama’s recently unveiled $3.9 trillion budget would raise more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years and increase spending $56 billion above statutory caps in the next year alone, which means that the President did not consider the spending caps both the White House and Congress agreed to last year before he decided to unveil his plan.
During a Budget Committee hearing yesterday, Sylvia Burwell, Obama’s White House Budget Director, seemed to struggle to answer Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) question regarding the president’s budget proposal. While Obama’s plan would increase spending, Burnwell refused to answer Sessions when asked whether the budget would allow more spending than what had been already agreed to previously when the President signed the Ryan-Murray budget.
According to the Budget Director, “there are some questions that are not simply Yes or No questions.” Her justification and defense of the new budget proposal ignores the budget already signed by the president. When asked if she wanted Congress to change the Ryan-Murray budget so that the increased spending proposed by Obama would then become a possibility, Burnwell also struggled to respond.
Does anyone else remember when Democrats were going to run and win on Obamacare in the 2014 mid-term election? Those bold statements were made by DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) not long after the infamous rollout of the law.
But with the Obama administration’s most recent Obamacare delays — we’re now at 37, if you’re keeping score at home — Democrats are trying to shift the public’s attention from Obamacare to, well, anything else. Consider two recent stories, one from The New York Times and another from the National Journal.
The New York Times story focuses on Democrats’ “strategy” of targeting Charles and David Koch, which had been telegraphed in two recent, disgusting floor speeches by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). There’s nothing really new in the story that we didn’t already know. It just speaks to attempt to change the subject.
The National Journal piece covers Democrats’ attempts to pivot on Social Security by accusing Republican candidates of wanting to privatize a program that is fiscally insolvent over the long-term. The is the more interesting angle because entitlement programs are, typically, Democrats “go to” when they’re out of ammunition.
A Michigan cancer patient who recently spoke out against Obamacare is fighting back against Democrats’ attacks and attempts to undermine her credibility.
Julie Boonstra was featured last month in Americans for Prosperity issue ad targeting Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) for his support of Obamacare. The lukemia patient explained that she lost a health plan that she liked and was forced to buy one with higher out-of-pocket costs.
Not long after the ad was launched, Peters’ lawyers fired off a letter to Michigan television stations and demanded that they pull the ad, claiming that Boonstra was lying about her circumstances. The cancer patient, however, is fighting back against those claims in another ad produced by Americans for Prosperity.
“Being diagnosed with the cancer, than was the scariest thing I have ever faced. Because of Obamacare, I am now stuck with a plan that doesn’t work for me. My choice was taken away from me,” Boonstra says in the new ad. “All I want is to be listened to. There are thousands of people out there who are hurting because of Obamacare.”
This may not come as a surprise to you, but Public Policy Polling (PPP) has unveiled that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is the least popular Senator in the country.
According to the latest PPP Arizona poll, Sen. McCain is unanimously disliked among Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The poll indicated that only 30% of Arizonans approve of his job in the Senate while 54% disapprove.
Among conservatives and libertarians, McCain could face major issues if he decides to run for reelection in 2016. During President Obama’s push for stricter gun control measures in 2013, Sen. McCain offered his support to Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) gun control bill by voting for it and calling it a “common sense” law.
While many liberty-minded Republicans were standing with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) during his 13-hour long filibuster (a move praised by Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike), Sen. McCain used his influence to put the public against party colleagues like Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and referred to them as wacko birds, a term that was later used by several liberty-minded republicans and libertarians in social media drives to show neoconservatives that the childish criticism would not discourage them.