The Department of Justice came under fire this past week for its subpoena of Associated Press phone records without any notice to the news agency or targeted reporters. While Attorney General Eric Holder claims that the action was a response to a national security threat, it was actually part of the Obama Administration’s continuing war on whistleblowers and, as many see it, a shot directly at the free press, which is protected by the First Amendment.
The controversy has brought new attention on the need to protect Americans from this sort of government overreach. on Thursday, Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), and Jared Polis (D-CO) joined together to introduce H.R. 2014, the Telephone Records Protection Act, which would protect all Americans from this sort of government overreach:
The IRS serving as a political tool isn’t exactly a new concept. The agency has long-been used by administrations to target political and ideological opponents. But the latest incident involving the agency and its target of Tea Party groups has made some pundits to have an epiphany — that government abuses lend weight to concerns over other areas of public policy where sensitive information is obtained.
Citing concerns that expanded background checks would eventually led to a national gun registry, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT) promised to filibuster a procedural motion to bring the gun control measures to the floor. While they were initially unsuccessful in filibuster, the trio was able to rally enough support to kill the Manchin-Toomey amendment.
Many talking heads slammed those who voted against background checks during last month’s gun control debate in the Senate, but a couple of pundits have realized that maybe opponents of background checks had a point.
Joe Scarborough, host of the MSNBC’s Morning Joe, conceded on Friday that his argument in support of background checks is “less pursuasive today due to these scandals.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced that he would recall Lois Lerner, the embattled director of the IRS’s Tax Exempt Division, to testify on the agency’s discrimination of Tea Party and conservative groups.
Lerner appeared before the committee on Wednesday, but invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself. But before doing so, Lerner made an opening statement in which she declared herself innocent of any wrong-doing. Issa believes that Lerner waived her rights with her opening statement:
Issa said Thursday he had concluded that Lerner waived her rights against self-incrimination when she invoked her Fifth Amendment rights at a Wednesday hearing.
Lerner, who runs an IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, defended her actions in an opening statement before invoking the Fifth, and Republicans say that meant she had waived her privileges against self-incrimination.
“After consulting with counsel, Chairman Issa has concluded that Ms. Lerner’s 5th Amendment assertion is no longer valid,” Ali Ahmad, a spokesman for Issa, said in a statement Thursday. “She remains under subpoena, the Committee is looking at recalling her for testimony.”
Issa recessed – rather than adjourned – Wednesday’s hearing, which keeps Lerner under the original subpoena.
The IRS and DOJ scandals may have taken Benghazi out of the headlines, but that doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t any less concerned. According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, 55% of Americans believe that the Obama Administration is trying to cover up the facts about the terrorist attack that claimed the lives of four Americans:
Last year’s deadly attack on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya is shaping up as a real political problem for President Obama, with concern extending well beyond the conservative base. More than half of Americans say his administration is trying to cover up the facts of the attack, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Fully 55 percent say the Obama administration is trying to hide the facts, while just 33 percent say it has honestly disclosed what it knows of the incident. It’s not just Republicans crying foul: Six in 10 independents and nearly three in 10 Democrats say the administration is not being forthright.
Here’s a look at the results:
Unfortunately, the White House has been trying to avoid the scandal. And many of President Obama’s apologists treat Benghazi in much the same way former DNC Howard Dean does. In an appearance on CNBC last week, Dean called the concerns over Benghazi a “laughable joke.”
The Internal Revenue Service has given the Tea Party movement just the boost it needed to motivate the grassroots around the country. The movement that pundits had once declared dead is beginning to gain favorability in the aftermath of the scandal, according to a new CNN poll:
And according to a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday, it’s also boosted the favorable rating for the tea party movement. Thirty-seven percent of people questioned said they see the tea party in a favorable light, up nine percentage points from CNN’s March poll. But a plurality still view the movement unfavorably.
The 37% favorable rating for tea party is just one point shy of their all-time high in CNN polling, which they reached twice in 2010, during the heyday of the movement.
But according to the new poll, 45% of the public continues to hold an unfavorable view of the tea party, with just over one in ten saying they don’t have an opinion. The 45% unfavorable rating for the tea party is down five points from a CNN survey from last November.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” — First Amendment
Those words are straightforward. The right to free speech was respected so fervently that the framers of the Constitution saw fit to ensure that it was a constitutionally guaranteed right.
Sadly, that fundamental civil liberty was threatened last week when it was revealed that the Justice Department had subpoenaed phone records of reporters at the Associated Press (AP), an action that the news agency’s president said was “unconstitutional.”
It appears that this scandal is worse than was previously feared. The Washington Post reported on Sunday that James Rosen, Washington correspondent at Fox News, was the target of a Justice Department investigation in 2010.
This is pretty creepy:
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.
Many on the Left are praising a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showing that President Barack Obama’s budget, which was submitted two months late, would lower deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years:
President Obama’s most recent budget request would reduce borrowing by $1.1 trillion over the next decade compared with current law — almost entirely through higher taxes on the rich, large estates and smokers, congressional budget analysts said Friday.
In addition to raising nearly $1 trillion in new taxes, the president’s blueprint would also cut spending modestly, according to the analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
So…more tax hikes, which seems to be the end-all, be-all for this White House. Remember, the $1 trillion in new taxes that President Obama wants would come after a tax hike earlier this year that raised taxes on 77% of American households.And President Obama wants to raise your taxes again.
A lot of Americans know that the US government is out of control. Anyone who has cared enough to study the US Constitution even a little knows this. Still, very few of these people are taking any significant action, and largely because of one error: They are waiting for “the good guys” to show up and fix things.
Some think that certain groups of politicians will pull it together and fix things, or that one magnificent politician will ride in to fix things. Others think that certain members of the military will step in and slap the politicians back into line. And, I’m sure there are other variations.
There are several problems with this. I’ll start with the small issues:
Some of the Tea Party and conservative groups targeted by the Internal Revenue Service have decided to sue America’s most-hated bureaucracy agency. Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon reported last week that the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) will represent a number of groups that were hurt by the discrimination:
Jordan Sekulow, policy director of conservative public interest law firm the American Center for Law and Justice, said he will be taking legal action against the IRS in the next few days on behalf of groups that were improperly targeted.
Seventeen ACLJ clients are ready to file suit against the IRS, he said.
Those clients “suffered damages, they lost membership and donations, they missed the election cycle, they missed key moments, they were not able to bring speakers in,” Sekulow said.
ACLJ has demanded that the IRS take action on 10 groups whose 501(c)(4) statuses have not yet been approved. Lawsuits will be filed whether or not the IRS complies with that request, he added.
“This is far from over, even if they do approve the remaining groups,” Sekulow said.
The lawsuit will be filed this week, according to the ACLJ, and will include 27 Tea Party and conservative organizations. In an op-ed at the Washington Examiner, Matthew Clark of the ACLU explained the tactics employed by the IRS to single out these groups have no place in America.
Glenn Jacobs, perhaps better known as the wrestler “Kane” from WWE, may be considering a primary challenge to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
Jacobs, who identifies philosophically as a libertarian and supported both of Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns, has made waves recently by challenging Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Republican, to a debate over the online sales tax. On Thursday, however, Brian Doherty noted at Reason that Jacobs is weighng a primary bid against Alexander next year:
Still pure rumor mill for now, but sources close to the one-time World Heavyweight Champion World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar (among many other wrestling honors) who goes by the name “Kane” tell me that Glenn Jacobs (Kane’s legal name) is “open to the possibility of considering a primary campaign against Sen. Lamar Alexander” for the Tennessee Senate seat Lamar! has held since 2003.
That’s a whole lot of caveats and no announcement from the man himself, but it would be one of the more delightful GOP primary battles for the libertarian-minded to watch.
Jacobs, a resident of Knoxvill, Tennessee, has contributed commentary to LewRockwell.com, a website that frequently promotes paleo-conservative and libertarian economic theories. This free market point-of-view could be appealing to many Republican primary voters.