Category Archives: Government

Obama’s answer to Bagdad Bob…

Dumbfounded Americans UNLOAD on Marie Harf’s unbelievable statement: ‘Iraqi forces held their lines’

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf gave the Iraqi army props following the fall of Ramadi.

Never mind that Iraqi forces cut and ran, surrendering the city to Islamic State militants.

“The Iraqi security forces have held their lines on the outside of the city,” Harf told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Wednesday.

Talk about putting lipstick on a pig, that’s taking spin to a whole new level.

Bloomberg columnist Josh Rogin posted Harf’s comment on Twitter and the reaction indicates that the Obama administration is fooling very few people these days.

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Filed under "Intelligence", "Transparency", Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, Government, Hypocrisy, Iraq, ISIS, Liberals, Middle East, Politics, President, Stupidity, Terrorism, Useful Idiots

It’s a dud…

FBI admits no major cases cracked with Patriot Act snooping powers

FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations.

The FBI did finally come up with procedures to try to minimize the information it was gathering on nontargets, but it took far too long, Mr. Horowitz said in the 77-page report, which comes just as Congress is trying to decide whether to extend, rewrite or entirely nix Section 215.

The new report adds ammunition to those opponents, with the inspector general concluding that no major cases have been broken by use of the Patriot Act’s records-snooping provisions.

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Can We Have Religious Liberty In Modern America?

Federalist

The Supreme Court is soon to decide a case that could potentially impose same-sex marriage as a nationwide civil “right.” During one exchange in oral arguments in the case, Obama administration Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was asked by Justice Alito whether a religious school could lose its nonprofit status if it held that marriage is between one man and one woman. Here is the solicitor general’s response: “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is it is going to be an issue.”

That certainly sounds like a “yes.” Will it end with religious schools? What about churches? Will Christian churches lose their nonprofit tax status if they hold firm to one of their foundational beliefs—a sacrament of their faith?

It is no exaggeration to say we are at a tipping point of one of the pillars of the American founding: Religious liberty. Can religious liberty be sustained in the America of today which understands itself, and the idea of liberty, in a different way than our forefathers did? John Adams, that venerable founder of our republic, once wrote that we are “a government of laws, not of men.”

Christians must hold in tension our personal desire for liberty, and religious liberty in particular, with the God-given desire to see the culture around us receive spiritual liberty from all the destructive desires which hold it in bondage. The best way we can do this, the best way I believe we can save this fragile and declined republic, is by going back to our founding principles—principles founded on the laws of nature and of nature’s God—even when rogue governors, tyrant judges, and media-enabled shout-downs are encroaching upon us.

We must prepare for this to take a very long time, and along the way we will encounter setbacks: religious institutions losing tax-exempt status may or may not yet be one of the many we face. Our culture will give us repeated occasions to prove our integrity and sincerity. The fight is on two fronts: civil and spiritual. Both require our energy and commitment. Both require humility and peace-ability.

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Filed under "Transparency", Constitutional, Culture, Government, Law, Politics, Religious Freedom, The Supremes

Yeah. Sure…

DHS blames tech glitch for violating judge’s amnesty injunction

The Obama administration blamed a technology glitch for why it continued to approve new amnesty applications in February, even after a federal judge issued an injunction, telling the court late Friday that they are now begging about 2,000 illegal immigrants to tear up their three-year work authorizations.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Homeland Security agency that approved the deportation amnesty applications for Dreamers despite the judge’s order, insisted it’s corrected the immigrants’ records at headquarters, but said it’s also asking the immigrants themselves to send back their three-year documents and accept two-year papers instead.

The agency also told Judge Andrew S. Hanen that more botched cases could still be found as employees dig through tens of thousands of applications.

President Obama’s lawyers are desperately trying to head off punishment by Judge Hanen after several embarrassing missteps.

It worked with the IRS, right? And it took them how many months to come up with that excuse?

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Filed under "Intelligence", "Transparency", Abuse of Power, Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, Government, Hypocrisy, Immigration, Liberals, President

Why we’ll never win the war on ISIS…

Senators On Jihad 2.0: We’ll Take Down ISIS With ‘Fancy Memes’

Because images and recordings of its atrocities have spread through the internet with amazing speed and ease, it’s tempting to view ISIS as a group of digital natives — people whose entire life has been filled with some sort of internet outlet for sociable sharing. The group seems to contain much sought after viral power, but that’s likely due to its audience spending an increasing amount of time viewing the world through a browser, rather than through nightly news reports and morning papers.

The perception is the truth and a few US senators are seeking to counteract ISIS’s viral power by utilizing the same playing fields. This may be a good idea, but it’s also providing for some inadvertent hilarity as legislators put two and two together and get Voice of America: Buzzfeed edition.

“There’s an obvious piece of legislation that we need to start working on,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said during a Homeland Security Committee hearing on “Jihad 2.0“.

“Let’s face it: We invented the Internet. We invented the social network sites. We’ve got Hollywood. We’ve got the capabilities… to blow these guys out of the water from the standpoint of communications.”

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., backed his colleague’s appeal. “Look at their fancy memes compared to what we’re not doing,” Booker said, displaying examples of jihadist online postings.

This isn’t meant to be a total and preemptive condemnation of potential US efforts to engage ISIS on the digital battlefield. The problem is that the government is the entity least likely to do this effectively, seeing as it’s largely unused to deploying anything with subtlety or agility. That it’s calling on Hollywood to help it with its counterterrorism efforts is also a bit concerning, considering it conjures up images of Uncle Sam running a propaganda mill out of a studio backlot. Not only will this do little to sway potential ISIS sympathizers, but it’s also apt to turn more citizens against their government, even if they agree that ISIS is a worthwhile target.

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Filed under "Intelligence", Government, ISIS, Politics, Propaganda, Stupidity, Terrorism, Useful Idiots

DEA Takes $16,000 From Train Passenger Because It Can

TechDirt

There were no drugs and nothing to enforce, but that didn’t stop the Drug Enforcement Agency from taking $16,000 from a passenger on a train headed to California.

Rivers said the agents questioned passengers at random, asking for their destination and reason for travel. When one of the agents got to Rivers, who was the only black person in his car, according to witnesses, the agent took the interrogation further, asking to search his bags. Rivers complied. The agent found the cash — still in a bank envelope — and decided to seize it on suspicion that it may be tied to narcotics. River pleaded with the agents, explaining his situation and even putting his mother on the phone to verify the story.

Leaving aside the unsavory hint of racial profiling, there’s the fact that the DEA helped itself to cash simply because it was cash. It had no reason to suspect Rivers of anything, but the money was apparently too much to pass up. Even having his story corroborated was useless. And, sure, the DEA agents had no reason to believe anyone Rivers put them in touch with was a trustworthy source of information. (After all, he’s some sort of drug dealer, right?) But to grant the DEA the benefit of the doubt for its refusal to believe Rivers’ mother’s statements is to cut the agents an absurd amount of slack for everything preceding that.

Because what did the DEA actually have here? A young guy and $16,000 in cash. According to the DEA’s own statements, it doesn’t need anything more than that to effect an asset seizure. And, according to the DEA’s own statements, it has no reason to bother with anything more than a cursory look that “confirms” what it wants it to confirm.

[Sean] Waite [DEA – Albuquerque] said that in general DEA agents look for “indicators” such as whether the person bought an expensive one-way ticket with cash, if the person is traveling from or to a city known as a hot spot for drug activity, if the person’s story has inconsistencies or if the large sums of money found could have been transported by more conventional means.

If we leave it to the DEA to define drug activity “hot spots,” it becomes any destination any traveler is headed to, especially if there’s seizable cash involved. As for story inconsistencies, we’re back to “eye of the beholder” territory. If agents are motivated to perform asset seizures, any story can be found to have enough flaws to justify the forfeiture. Waite’s statement is very unhelpful, other than to show how completely screwed up asset forfeiture programs are.

“We don’t have to prove that the person is guilty,” Waite said. “It’s that the money is presumed to be guilty.”

Boom. There’s your problem. Or rather, Rivers’ problem. And the problem of far too many Americans who made the mistake of leaving home with cash on their person. The government doesn’t need to prove shit. It can just take and take and take and force those wronged by its “presumptions” to jump through multiple expensive and mostly futile hoops if they hope to recover their “guilty” belongings.

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Feds to return $107G they seized from NC business owner, attorneys say

Push back harder…

“There is no crime in this country for doing business in cash,” he said. “But the government treated Lyndon worse than a criminal, by taking his property and forcing him to prove his own innocence to get that property back.”

According to Johnson, despite an IRS pledge in November to curb forfeitures that weren’t connected to criminal activity, the Department of Justice filed a claim in December saying McLellan had violated the structuring law. The money was held in what is called a “customs suspension account” under the Treasury Department while his case was in limbo.

McLellan had been struggling for months to recover the $107,000, while keeping his business – a store, restaurant and gas station operation – afloat.

In that time, the government never pressed any criminal charges against McLellan. Meanwhile, the DOJ changed its own policy to rein in its restructuring prosecutions in March. But that didn’t necessarily mean that McLellan could get his savings back retroactively.

At a February 2015 hearing before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., mentioned to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen that he had reviewed McLellan’s case — though he did not specifically name it.

“If that case exists, then it’s not following in the policy I’ve been advised,” Koskinen testified, adding that he had “lengthy meetings with the senior leadership” of the IRS’s criminal investigation division and was assured that employees were trained in and advised about the new policy.

Two months ago, the government offered McLellan 50 percent of his money back and warned him against chasing publicity, even going so far as to suggest it would rile people inside the IRS and could hurt his chances of seeing his cash again, his attorneys said.

“Today the the DOJ is giving him 100 percent,” said Institute for Justice spokesman J. Justin Wilson. “We got him an enormous amount of publicity – and it did work.”

From 2005 to 2012, the IRS seized more than $242 million from alleged structuring violations in more than 2,500 cases, according to an Institute for Justice study. In more than 830 of those cases, no other criminal activity was alleged.

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Filed under "Transparency", Government, IRS

Election Coming: Nobody Knows Anything

RichardDreyfuss

his is a pre-partisan statement that should find agreement across the political landscape: None of the front-page stories on any newspaper in the country are understood by anyone.

From the Wall Street bailout to the Middle East to the Ukraine and Russia, no content or clear lines to content are available, and that’s true of any American TV news, network or cable.

This is the result of a complete absence of teaching current events in our schools and teaching without context or candor. We have eviscerated our children’s education and unconsciously treat them as people we hate, denying them any excellence or agility of mind.

Western kids are reportedly trying to join ISIS; why? Perhaps because the only spiritual movement being discussed in public, however ugly its ideology, is extremist Islam. Judeo-Christian spirituality seems pallid and disconnected; certainly Americans are no longer learning the secular faith of the Constitution, the musculature of republican democracy, its values of individual worth, its religious tolerance, its embrace of opportunity and merit.

Kids who grow up in a spiritual void may drift to ideological thuggery because we let go of its most powerful enemy, the mobility of mind that comes from Enlightenment values.

Our values are not transmitted genetically; they must be taught. They’re not. We’re asked to make choices between political parties that have ceased all rational intentions to communicate their stand on issues with any clarity. We live in an hypnotic trance of inaction because we aren’t taught how to run the nation, that we as a people are the highest sovereign power, that we can and should hold villains accountable.

Voting doesn’t make you a better citizen, comprehending the issues makes you better. Voting without that makes us all suckers.

Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss is the founder of The Dreyfuss Civics Initiative.

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Filed under "Transparency", Americana, Culture, Government, History, Religion, Religious Freedom

Corruption from the IRS to the DoJ

PowerLine

The pro-Israel group Z Street had its application for tax-exempt status held up at the IRS. When founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus asked why, she was told that IRS auditors had been instructed to give pro-Israel groups special attention and that Z Street’s application had been forwarded to a special IRS unit for additional review. Not to put too fine a point on the legal issues, this isn’t kosher. It’s illegal.

Z Street filed a lawsuit against the IRS in the rosy dawn of the Age of Obama; the lawsuit has yet to get beyond the IRS’s motion for dismissal. The Free Beacon’s Alana Goodman wrote about the lawsuit here last year when the DC District Court denied the IRS motion to dismiss the case. Z Street’s Lori Marcus wrote about it here. John wrote about it in 2013 in the post “The other IRS scandal.”

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the hearing before the DC Circuit in the reported editorial “The IRS goes to court” (accessible here via Google). Referring to the lawyers representing the IRS as “the government,” the Journal’s editors write:

It isn’t every day that judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declare themselves “shocked.” But that happened on Monday when an animated three-judge panel eviscerated the IRS and Justice Department during oral argument in a case alleging the agency delayed the tax-exempt application of a pro-Israel group due to its policy views.

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Filed under "Intelligence", "Transparency", Abuse of Power, Constitutional, Government, IRS, Law

Christians Who Have Avoided the Culture Wars May No Longer Have a Choice With Religious Freedom in Jeopardy, Legal Scholar Says

ChristianPost

“Must pastors, priests, and rabbis provide religious marriage counseling to same-sex couples? Must religious colleges provide married student housing to same-sex couples? Must churches and synagogues employ spouses in same-sex marriages, even though such employees would be persistently and publicly flouting the religious teachings they would be hired to promote? Must religious organizations provide spousal fringe benefits to the same-sex spouses of any such employees they do hire? Must religious social-service agencies place children for adoption with same-sex couples? Already, Catholic Charities in Illinois, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia has closed its adoption units because of this issue.

“Religious colleges, summer camps, day care centers, retreat houses, counseling centers, meeting halls, and adoption agencies may be sued under public accommodations laws for refusing to offer their facilities or services to same-sex couples. Or they may be penalized by loss of licensing, accreditation, government contracts, access to public facilities, or tax exemption.”

Christians who have so far avoided controversial “culture war” issues will likely be pulled into those battles as their religious freedom becomes threatened due to gay marriage, Dr. John Inazu warned Monday.

Theologically conservative Christian non-profit organizations, including churches, could face losing their tax exempt status or being shut down, and Christian doctors, lawyers, counselors and other professionals could be forced out of their professions, he explained.

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Filed under "Intelligence", "Transparency", Abuse of Power, Christianity, Constitutional, Culture, Government, Homofascism, Law, LGBT, Politics, Religion, Religious Freedom, The Supremes