Archive for November, 2013

Crowd of Illegals Attacks U.S. Border Patrol Officers

November 28, 2013

From NBC San Diego by Christina London, November 26, 2013

A crowd of more than 100 people trying to enter the United States illegally pelted Border Patrol agents with rocks and bottles, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The incident happened Sunday in the Tijuana River channel, near the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

According to CBP, a Border Patrol agent ordered the Mexican nationals to stop, but they continued walking into the U.S.

Officials said the agent fired a PepperBall Launcher, but it did not deter the crowd.

“They had their phones out so this group was out to spark an incident. That’s what they wanted to do, “ Border Patrol Union representative Gabriel Pacheco said.

Had cooler heads not prevailed it could have ended much worse, he said.

Even with reinforcements, agents were outnumbered, dodging threats, rocks and bottles.

More agents responded as the crowd became “unruly,” even hitting one agent in the head with a full water bottle, officials said.

According to CBP, the agents used “intermediate use-of-force” devices, and the group retreated back to the Mexican side of the border.

No one was arrested.

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Thanksgiving and the Blessings of Liberty

November 27, 2013

From The New American by Charles Scaliger, November 27, 2013

Although many holidays have broad international appeal, Thanksgiving — arguably America’s second-favorite holiday after Christmas — is celebrated only in the United States and Canada (Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October). What originated as a sort of harvest festival among British colonists in the New World has taken on a life of its own. No longer is Thanksgiving a mere celebration of the harvest (a ritual found in many cultures); it has become a symbol of the oft-neglected virtue of gratitude.

In hindsight, it is not surprising that a day consecrated to gratitude for the blessings of Providence should have arisen among the predominantly pious, hard-pressed early American colonists. Most of them had chosen the austerities of life in the American colonies over the drab certainties of the stratified Old World. Here there were no manorial lords to provide lodging, substance, and protection, and no ossified aristocracy to perpetuate the feudalism of their ancestors.

Compared with much of Europe, the climate in the northern colonies was severe and the risks great. Many of the people who chose the hazards of the New World did so because they wanted freedom — religious, economic, and political — more than they wanted the security afforded by European governments.

Such people, bereft of material things, were more apt than others to rely on Providence and to express gratitude for every harvest, hunt, and fishing haul. On the frontier, there were neither safety nets nor other contrivances of government that tend to obscure man’s dependence on powers higher than himself.

Centuries later, many of us have become more akin to the Old World urbanites our ancestors left behind than we would care to admit. Like the citizens of the great cities of old Europe — London, Amsterdam, Paris, Florence, and all the rest — we are surrounded by luxuries, wealth, and modes of entertainment unimaginable to the old frontiersmen, and even to millions of the world’s poor who even now have never seen a DVD player or a BMW. Many of us have only a vague notion of where many of the things that sustain us — the food that crams our grocery stores, for example — even come from.

Fewer still comprehend the reason for the abundance we now enjoy. The wellspring of our prosperity is our freedom, which a gracious Creator has permitted us to enjoy for a season. Our miraculous technological advances, our ability to produce a superabundance of food, our constantly rising standard of living, our medicine, and our ever-lengthening lifespan, among many other things, stem from the freedom that we have to make our own choices and develop our talents as we see fit.

It is no accident that the nations where liberty was first discovered in the modern era — Great Britain, Holland, parts of Italy, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States — were also the first to discover the principle of progress. Innovation in finance and investment in Italy and Holland created the conditions for the modern growth of capital investment. Innovation in mechanized and large-scale production — the Industrial Revolution — started in Holland and England and was improved many fold in the early American republic. The great discoveries in science and medicine all came from the freer portions of Europe and from America. And all of it happened because of the gift of liberty that our forefathers gave us.

Among the many things for which we should be thankful, then, liberty is one of the very most important. It is liberty that allows us to live lifestyles unimagined a few centuries or even decades ago. Without liberty, our lives would be pallid and impoverished, our growth stunted, our existence truly “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” This Thanksgiving Day, amid the concerns of our time (and they are many), let us give thanks for our liberty, and pray that our children’s children will be able to do the same.

Indiana Police Chief to be Shot with Taser to Raise Money for New Cruiser

November 26, 2013

From The Associated Press by Rick Callahan, November 26, 2013

Knightstown police Chief Danny Baker has used pig roasts and golf tournaments to augment his department’s shrinking budget, but badly in need of $9,000 for a new squad car, he’s reprising his most shocking fundraising approach to date: getting shot by a stun gun.

The jocular 63-year-old chief and another Knightstown official were planning to have a detective shoot them with a Taser at a free event Wednesday night in the middle school gym in their small eastern Indiana town. Spectators — who Baker hopes feel compelled to donate — will get a firsthand look at how 50,000 volts of low-amp electricity affects the human body.

“It’s a shame we have to go to the extent of having fundraisers and getting electrified and so forth, but with small-town budgets you have to do something to get by,” said Baker, a lifelong Knightstown resident who has been in law enforcement for 35 years.

Many rural communities like Knightstown, a mile-square town of 2,100 about 25 miles east of Indianapolis, are having to become inventive to fund needed services, said Brian Depew, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, an advocacy group based in Lyons, Neb.

Depew said federal farm bill funding for rural development has fallen by a third since 2003, leaving less money for police cars and other necessities in an era of shrinking rural populations and tax bases.

Some communities have taken to putting ads on cruisers, while others, like Knightstown, are relying on donations for help.

While Baker concedes that his fundraising gambit is extreme, he believes it will also educate the crowd, which will also get to see a police dog demonstration.

Since he became police chief in 2007, Baker has staged a series of fundraisers, including an annual golf outing and hog roast that raises about $5,000 a year and has paid for new digital cameras for the town’s cruisers, blood-testing kits and other items.

Wednesday’s event would not be a first for Baker, who has four children and 16 grandchildren. He was shot with a stun gun about five years ago to raise $500 for new equipment. Baker says getting stunned feels like being punched about 20 times a second in the back of the head for five seconds. It immobilizes the target and leaves him or her prone and sore, he said.

Baker will be steadied by two of his officers while he’s stunned. Emergency medical technicians will be on hand, their ambulance parked outside Knightstown Intermediate School as a precaution.

Baker reprised the Taser event after a local businessman who is contributing to the cause suggested it. He said Wednesday’s demonstration will re-certify him through next year in Taser use in accordance with Indiana Law Enforcement Academy requirements. Officers can choose whether or not to be stunned as part of that re-certification, he said.

Although some might question the message the stunt might send — not to mention its wisdom — Baker said that if anything, it will benefit those who attend, including children.

“We’re not using it to play with, we’re using it as a training tool,” he said. “It’s going to be quite visible — the pain in my body — and if there are kids there, they’re going to see this and their parents can sit down and say, ‘See, if you mess up and don’t do what the police tell you to do, that’s going to be you.'”

Wednesday’s event has made the well-liked chief the talk of Knightstown, a farming town best-known as the home of the Hoosier Gym, a rustic, 1920s-era structure featured as the home team’s gym in the 1986 basketball film “Hoosiers.” And the dollars have flowed in, giving the department most of the money it needs for the cruiser.

Baker’s 2006 Ford Crown Victoria has about 67,000 miles on it, and on Monday it was the only one of the department’s four squad cars in service. The others — two of which are a decade old and have more than 150,000 miles on them — had transmission, engine and electrical problems.

Bart Whitesitt, the town’s court-treasurer, said Knightstown’s 2014 budget is an estimated $968,000. Money from the town’s rainy-day fund and state riverboat casino revenue was enough to pay a year’s lease on a new Ford Police Interceptor SUV that should arrive early next year, but not another $9,000 available for a second one.

“What we’re experiencing here, it’s just a microcosm of what’s happening around the country,” said Whitesitt, who volunteered to be shocked along with Baker.

Jay Stearns, the owner of the town’s main hangout, the Corner Bakery, gleefully predicted that a big crowd would show up.

“Everybody’s going to be there — not just because it’s a fundraiser but because we’re all going to enjoy watching him drop to the floor like a 100-pound bag of potatoes,” Stearns said, spurring laughter among his customers.

Teen Cartel Killer Released in Mexico, Goes to U.S.

November 26, 2013

From The Associated Press by E. Eduardo Castillo, November 26, 2013

A 17-year-old U.S. citizen who acknowledged being a killer for a Mexican drug cartel finished his three-year juvenile-offender term for homicide, kidnapping and drug and weapons possession and returned to the United States.

Mexican officials say Edgar Jimenez Lugo has been released, though it wasn't clear if he had been rehabilitated. (Antonio Sierra/AP)

The interior secretary of southern Morelos state, Jorge Messeguer, said Edgar Jimenez Lugo had been released, though he added it wasn’t clear if the teen had been rehabilitated.

“Being able to say whether he’s been rehabilitated, that would be risky. I wouldn’t really dare say that, because obviously the crimes he committed were so severe,” Messeguer said.

He said Jimenez went to San Antonio, Texas, where he has family and apparently will go to a residential support facility there, though he didn’t know its name.

It does not appear Jimenez faces any charges in the United States. The U.S. Embassy said it would not publicly discuss the case due to privacy considerations.

The embassy said in a statement that it was “closely coordinating with our Mexican counterparts and appropriate authorities in the United States” regarding the release.

In 2011, at age 14, Jimenez confessed to killing four people whose beheaded bodies were found suspended from a bridge.

He was born in San Diego, California, but was raised in Mexico by his grandmother. Authorities quoted Jimenez as saying he had been forcibly recruited by drug traffickers when he was 11 and confessing to working for the South Pacific drug cartel, led by reputed drug lord Hector Beltran Leyva.

Jimenez was trying to return to the United States when he was caught in 2010.

He and a sister were arrested in Morelos, south of Mexico City, as they tried to board a plane to Tijuana, where they planned to cross the border and reunite with their mother in San Diego. When he was handed over to federal prosecutors, the boy calmly said in front of cameras that he participated in four killings while drugged and under threat. The bodies were found in the tourist city of Cuernavaca, which is in Morelos.

Jimenez served his three-year sentence, the maximum for juveniles, at a juvenile detention center in Morelos.

The states was formerly controlled by the Beltran Leyva gang, which broke up after alleged leader Arturo Beltran Leyva died in a shootout with Mexican marines in 2009.

Local Police Increasingly Subordinate to Federal Homeland Security

November 25, 2013

From The New American by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., November 24, 2013

Reports from towns and cities around the country prove that the federal government is determined to abolish the independence of local law enforcement.

Local Police Increasingly Subordinate to Homeland Security Department

Using “grants” and other economic incentives, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is paying police departments to become subordinate outposts of the increasingly militarized federal agency.

The New American has chronicled this dangerous trend for years and we’ve begun to notice the acceleration of the pace of DHS consolidation of control of local police departments and sheriffs offices around the country.

Financial grants earmarked for “improving homeland security” aren’t the only DHS carrot enticing cash-strapped police departments to subject themselves to federal management. DHS also uses the establishment of “buffer zones” and fusion centers to accomplish its surreptitious seizure of police forces.

It’s not enough, however, for Homeland Security to merely take control of local police. A primary focus of the plan is to enlarge the surveillance net by equipping squad cars and precincts with technology enabling them to target and track citizens whether at home or on the road.

From license plate readers to facial recognition software, from surveillance cameras to cellphone signal trackers, the Department of Homeland Security is providing police with all the gadgets, hardware, and software necessary to keep everybody under surveillance, without the targeted public ever realizing that it’s the Capitol, not the cops, that are behind the monitoring.

Local police who participate in the program will have access to a shockingly broad array of personal information of citizens. Facial recognition technology, license plate readers, and stop light camera video feeds will all be funneled to a Regional Operations Intelligence Center where FBI, police, and DHS agents can watch the live feeds.

Here are a few notices of the success of the plan as reported by local media:

This from the Long Beach (California) Press-Telegram:

The Police Department will receive a $40,954 grant from the Department of Homeland Security as reimbursement for the purchase of various law enforcement equipment over the past three years.

About $23,619 will be used on automated vehicle license plate readers, which can be portable or positioned on a squad car.

The readers scan license plates on passing vehicles and check the information against local, regional and state criminal databases. Each plate is also compared with plate numbers associated with auto thefts, felony warrants, parking violations and Amber alerts.

The Police Department has two automated readers but hasn’t decided how many new pieces of equipment to purchase, Police Chief Michael Langston said.

A total of $12,500 will be used to upgrade the security camera system at Hilltop Park, 2351 Dawson Ave., and Discovery Well, 2200 Temple Ave., the two parks in the city with a security camera system.

And this, from the Times-Tribune in Corbin, Kentucky:

During the regular monthly meeting of the Barbourville City Council, BPD Detective Steve Owens told council members that their department was tapped by the federal Office of Homeland Security.

“Basically, Homeland Security came to the Barbourville Police Department requesting an officer to be a part of their task force,” Owens said.

Council members were required to approve a resolution that included a “memorandum of understanding” that established the partnership between the BPD and Homeland Security.

Owens added that the designated officer would have federal investigative powers. Owens explained that if the city’s police department uncovers a crime that would lead to federal charges, that officer would be able to assist.

Owens also told council members that the city would receive a portion of any monies or property seized during the course of an investigation that leads to federal charges and/or convictions.

Still more evidence of the unconstitutional bribery of local law enforcement is found in this story published by WBOC-TV in Salisbury, Maryland:

Keeping you safe through the eyes of a police car. New cameras have been added to some police cars in Salisbury.

Sgt. Scott Elliott of the Salisbury Police Department said that nine cars, including a K-9 and an unmarked patrol vehicle, are now equipped with small but powerful cameras.

The cameras are mounted inside of the windshield which also comes equipped with a speaker so that it can record any sound during traffic stops.

“There is an auto zoom function on the camera so as you are making your traffic stop it will actually zoom the camera in that will capture the license plate of the car you are pulling over,” said Elliott.

Elliott said that it’s been about eight years since the department even had cameras in their patrol cars. He said the department images captured and recorded into a squad laptop will help keep everyone safe.

“I don’t think it made it difficult not having them,” Elliott said, “the testimony of the officers has been doing a good job thus far, however having this added piece to it just makes the case that much more concrete.”

Elliot said that the camera will not only keep a constant eye on what’s happening during the day it will serve an even more useful purpose when night falls.

“If you’re searching for a suspect in the area or someone that fled from you then in a low light situation the infrared camera will actually pick up body heat,” he said.

Elliott said, the entire system including hardware and installation cost about $65,000. He said that money comes from various grants including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

And yet another report of a formerly independent local police department taking DHS grant money to improve its ability to “keep residents safe” by keeping them under constant federally-funded surveillance. This time, a story published earlier this month in the Deerfield Valley News in southern Vermont reports on the purchase (thanks to DHS money) of automatic license plate readers (ALPR).

One municipality that uses an ALPR system is Wilmington. According to town manager Scott Murphy, the ALPR was acquired nearly two years ago when police chief Joe Szarejko took advantage of a Department of Homeland Security grant that paid for the system. While Szarejko could not be reached for comment, Murphy explained that the device only makes the community safer. “We’ve picked up suspected felons, or stopped people speeding through town or who were speeding through another town,” said Murphy. “It’s a safety-related issue and regular police work, and we’ve done a good job of protecting residents and visitors who want to live and shop in a safe location.”

In Illinois, reported MySuburbanLife.com, one local police department has decided to turn to the federal government for help in modernizing its facilities. DHS is all too happy to oblige:

Prompting the need for a feasibility study is the fact that the city intends to apply for a variety of grants to pay for any improvements or additions at the Police Department. The study provides the due diligence required during the grant application process.

Police Commander Tom O’Halloran said it wasn’t a matter of Homeland Security issuing directives in terms of how police departments are specifically equipped.

“But if you ask for grants, Homeland Security asks, ‘How are you securing your facility?’” O’Halloran said. “It’s part of the process. We can’t get over the first hurdle of what we need because they don’t have the study.”

With all due respect, Commander O’Halloran is living in a fool’s paradise if he thinks that there won’t be strings attached to a bag full of DHS cash.

Whether he and his fellow police commanders across the country realize it or not, when they accept federal gadgets and grants, they are surrendering their independence and their citizens’ civil liberties.

California City Bans Smoking at Home

November 25, 2013

From The New American by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., November 24, 2013

Government isn’t content to control public behavior, it is now clamping down on how citizens act at home, as well.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that the city council of San Rafael, California has passed an ordinance prohibiting smoking inside residences with shared walls. This would include, of course, apartments, condominiums, duplexes, and other multi-family dwellings.

The ordinance was passed in October 2012, but did not go into effect until November 14, 2013.

According to a statement made by the city council on the city’s official website, the new regulation strengthens “the City’s municipal code to further protect the community from secondhand smoke.”

In particular, the ordinance “applies to all new and existing properties and does not allow grandfathering rights. Landlords and property owners are required to enforce this ordinance through new lease language or lease amendments as well as posting signage.”

The ordinance may be the strictest in the country, and city officials are proud to be out front on the issue. Breitbart News quoted Rebecca Woodbury, “an analyst in the San Rafael’s city manager’s office who helped write the ordinance,” as boasting: “I’m not aware of any ordinance that’s stronger.”

And the Blaze revealed:

The city’s mayor, Gary Phillips, is apparently well-aware of the leadership role San Rafael may have given itself with the decision. He said that the city is “happy to blaze a trail” before the vote took place.

“We’re most happy to be in the forefront of the issue because we think it will greatly benefit our residents and those visiting San Rafael, and we think it will set the tone for other cities as well,” the mayor proclaimed.

The Breitbart News story reported on the opposition to this alarming intrusion into the sanctity of the home:

“The science for that is spurious at best,” said George Koodray, the state coordinator for Citizens Freedom Alliance and the Smoker’s Club in New Jersey.

Steve Stanek, a research fellow at the free-market oriented policy group Heartland Institute in Chicago, supported the rights of smokers.

Stanek, a non-smoker, said, “My sympathies aren’t with smokers because I am one, it’s because of the huge growth in laws and punishments and government restricting people more and more.”

Beyond the city’s reliance on questionable science, the violation of the “Takings Clause” of the Constitution may actually be actionable.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in relevant part, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed down several decisions aimed at defining the scope of the so-called Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

An article from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law reports:

The Court has had a difficult time articulating a test to determine when a regulation becomes a taking.  It has said there is “no set formula” and that courts “must look to the particular circumstances of the case.”  The Court has identified some relevant factors to consider: the economic impact of the regulation, the degree to which the regulation interferes with investor-backed expectations, and the character of the government action.

By applying the ordinance to owners and renters, an argument can be made that its enforcement will impact the ability of investors to receive a return on their investment in property within San Rafael. Where once owners could sign leases with any citizen, regardless of their smoking preference, that property will now be restricting to renting to those who do not smoke. That may be fine going forward, but considering the “no grandfathering” clause of the ordinance, many of those who have purchased buildings as investment income property will now see their ability to achieve occupancy severely reduced by an overzealous local government.

As the ordinance has been in effect for only about 10 days as this is being written, it seems that local land owners would have a cause of action against the San Rafael city council. Should the owners of apartments, condos, and all other residences that contain units that share walls be able to demonstrate that their property rights have been diminished by the city council without the “just compensation” required by the Constitution, then the ordinance would be subject to being struck down.

Should the ordinance be enforced as written, owners of qualifying property will find themselves unable to use their property as intended and unable to recover for their losses.

There are those opponents of the ordinance who have chosen, unfortunately, to focus on the soundness of the science rather than on the assault on the fundamental right of property.

In the long run, health risks identified by science or by “science” will change. There will rarely be consensus on such issues, particularly when forces on both sides have billions of dollars to pour into competing studies (Michael Bloomberg and the tobacco industry, for example).

What does not change, however, and is not subject to contemporary or corporate manipulation, is the sacrosanct place afforded property in the Anglo-American legal tradition.

Proponents of the law point to the “nuisance exception” that the Supreme Court has established. Put simply, the high court has ruled that the right to injure neighbors is not covered by the Takings Clause, and thus need not be compensated for should the government decided to regulate the injurious behavior.

This has gone too far, however.

Writing for the Cato Institute, Roger Pilon explains the potential for abuse of the nuisance exception to the Takings Clause:

In defining the nuisance exception, therefore, care must be taken to tie it to a realistic conception of rights, which the classic common law more or less did. Thus, uses that injure a neighbor through various forms of pollution (e.g., by particulate matter, noises, odors, vibrations, etc.) or through exposure to excessive risk count as classic common-law nuisances because they violate the neighbor’s rights. They can be prohibited, with no compensation owing to those who are thus restricted.

By contrast, uses that “injure” one’s neighbor through economic competition, say, or by blocking “his” view (which runs over your property) or offending his aesthetic sensibilities are not nuisances because they violate no rights the neighbor can claim. Nor will it do to simply declare, through positive law, that such goods are “rights.”

Indeed, that is the route that has brought us to where we are today. After all, every regulation has some reason behind it, some “good” the regulation seeks to bring about. If all such goods were pursued under the police power—as a matter of right—then the owners from whom the goods were taken would never be compensated. The police power would simply eat up the compensation requirement.

And that is where the citizens of San Rafael find themselves today. The city council has unconstitutionally exercised the police power and has “eaten up” the protected property rights of owners of multi-family dwellings.

Although the fight wouldn’t be an easy one, property owners in San Rafael affected by the newly enforced ordinance would be wise to stand against their local government’s deprivation of their right to enjoy their property. When regulations run amok, property rights are almost always the victim.

Homeland Security Faces Lawsuit for Seizing Journalist’s Notes

November 25, 2013

From The New American by Alex Newman, November 25, 2013

The Washington Times and a former journalist for the newspaper, Audrey Hudson, whose notes were seized during a raid on her home, announced that they were suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for confiscating sensitive documents containing names of whistleblowers inside the federal government who helped expose official lies. According to the allegations made in the lawsuit, the seizure of the reporter’s confidential notes by armed state and federal officials in the raid violated Hudson’s constitutionally guaranteed rights. It was also unlawful because the search warrant was supposedly for an unrelated case surrounding Hudson’s husband, court documents argue.

“It’s unacceptable for law enforcement to have taken these records in the first place, especially when they had nothing to do with the investigation at hand or a search warrant,” Washington Times Editor John Solomon said last week, referring to the August 6 pre-dawn raid on the reporter’s home. “Our Founding Fathers, the Congress and the courts have long recognized the First Amendment safeguards that are afforded to a free press, and the protections from unlawful seizure that every American should enjoy. It seems that government officials need a refresher course on these vital freedoms.”

The deeply controversial assault on the journalist’s home, which garnered headlines and alarm around the world, involved the Maryland State Police and Homeland Security bureaucrats. Based on the warrant, the raid was supposedly aimed at finding guns and a “potato launcher.” Hudson’s husband is a “prohibited person” when it comes to owning firearms owing to an almost 30-year-old “resisting arrest” conviction. No charges have been filed against him after the raid so far — and news reports suggest no guns were even taken — but officials mostly refuse to comment on what may be happening now.

What is clear, however, is that during the ordeal, the swarm of agents ended up deliberately seizing Hudson’s confidential notes and files — none of which were even remotely related to the supposed investigation. The sensitive documents were produced while Hudson worked at the Washington Times as part of a series of articles exposing major problems at Homeland Security. Among other explosive revelations was the fact that federal officials had been lying to Congress and the public about their alleged “transportation security” schemes.

”I never in my wildest dreams thought something like that could happen in this country,” Hudson told The Blaze earlier this month about the raid and confiscation of her notes. “Horrified doesn’t even begin to describe — but this shook me to my core, I was almost paralyzed. I feel sick to my stomach every day since the incident…. It’s not just about what happened to me — it’s about our nation, our rights and freedom. How can we [the press] be the watchdogs when our government has now crossed the line? Who’s going to trust us when we can’t protect our sources?”

In court filings, Hudson and the Washington Times asked for a federal judge to force the government to return “property that has been unlawfully seized … in violation of the Fourth and First Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.” Perhaps even more troubling than the seizure of the reporter’s notes with the identities of whistleblowers, however, is what might have happened with them after being taken.

According to documents filed in court, the Times has “substantial reason to believe that the information contained in the five file folders seized from Hudson’s home office has been disseminated to or within” multiple federal agencies. Highlighting the severity of the radical government operation, the plaintiffs in the case also pointed out that many of the documents contained extremely sensitive information.

Aside from the names of brave officials and confidential sources who wanted to expose government wrongdoing, one of the papers contained a memo from Hudson to an editor explaining that she believed some of the whistleblowers involved were being retaliated against by the Department of Homeland Security. The fear is that now, in possession of Hudson’s confidential notes and the names of those who helped her, the federal government will know exactly who to punish and demonize for working to keep the public informed — at great personal risk to themselves.

An evidence log from the Maryland State Police also reportedly shows that, on September 3, a federal agent removed documents confiscated from Hudson’s home. The files were returned an hour later; though, according to the Washington Times, the log does not show why the documents were taken or what was done with them. “I think it is fair to say that this is an egregious affront on the part of the law enforcement,” explained media arts Professor Roger Soenksen at James Madison University. “A subpoena is a far greater method for investigators to use than a search warrant. It allows the journalist to search for legal counsel and turn over the evidence that is needed for the investigation at hand.”

In court filings, Hudson and the Times argued that reviewing and seizing the notes was entirely unjustified. “There was no basis for the law enforcement officers to open and inspect the file folders during the search, much less to seize the contents,” the plaintiffs said in the document, filed in federal court in Maryland. Hudson and the newspaper are also asking the court to let them question one of the Homeland Security officials involved in the alleged trampling of multiple constitutionally protected rights.

“We want to know: Do they have copies? Have they gleaned any information from them? And have they used them in any way to harm sources, or infringe on the First Amendment further than they already have? That’s the purpose of the law suit,” said Times Editor Solomon. Hudson and the newspaper, he added, are hoping to find out what was done with the records and who they were shared with “so we can follow the trail and see where that information was misused — if it was — inside of government.”

Solomon, who has himself been targeted by lawless government for his journalism, emphasized that authorities’ targeting of reporters seems to be on the rise: spying on Associated Press reporters, the Justice Department’s wild accusations against Fox News reporter James Rosen, and more. “We have no argument with the Maryland State Police or the DHS doing legitimate law enforcement work, but once they knew they were in a reporter’s home, the idea of going and grabbing those files, to us, is offensive,” Solomon added.

Even the most loyal media apparatchiks for the Obama administration have started labeling the ongoing anti-press crusade being waged from Washington, D.C., as a “war on journalism.” The relentless persecution of whistleblowers, meanwhile, is a key component of that war — without sources, exposing government criminality and wrongdoing becomes much harder, if not impossible. Many of the most significant government scandals — the recent “Fast and Furious” gun-running spree, for example — have been exposed by brave government employees.

Of course, insiders blowing the whistle on government crimes are now among the few remaining avenues for the public to learn what is really going on — especially considering the administration’s war on transparency and journalism. In recent years, whistleblowers have played an especially crucial role as the administration works fiendishly to silence “leakers” and others who would expose official lawlessness. If government succeeds in its ongoing campaign to intimidate and terrorize reporters and their sources, the American people will have only one source to find out what their officials are doing with their money and in their name: the government. Concerned analysts say that is exactly the point.

There is a good reason that the very first amendment to the U.S. Constitution protected the unalienable rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Without a free press, as in many other nations, liberty will almost certainly become the next casualty. If the American people hope to remain free, the assault on journalists and their sources must be understood and viewed as what it really is: a war against the people’s right to know what their government is doing. Without concerted opposition to the unconstitutional war on journalism, all other God-given rights secured in the Constitution will be in jeopardy as well.

Implosion of Social Security Disability Ponzi Scheme Accelerates

November 25, 2013

From The New American by Bob Adelmann, November 22, 2013

Fresh data just released by the trustees of the Social Security Administration show that the number of people receiving benefits from the Disability Insurance Trust Fund has exploded over the last five years, reducing the surplus in that fund from $216 billion in 2008 to just over $100 billion in 2013. There were 7.4 million recipients in January 2009, but as of October 2013, there are nearly nine million beneficiaries, not including another two million spouses and children of disabled workers who are also receiving benefits.

Simple math illustrates the inevitable: If those receiving benefits for disability (real or faked) continues to increase, the trust fund will be bankrupt in less than three years. This is small potatoes when compared to the Medicare and Social Security programs, but illustrates the inevitability of the ending of all Ponzi schemes, large or small.

When Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) claimed on October 20 that “We have $128 trillion worth of unfunded liabilities … and another $17 trillion worth of debt,” Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post preferred to question the amount rather than the imminent failure of these schemes. He claimed that the real number was perhaps closer to $43 trillion, using numbers from the Social Security trustee themselves, or suggested that perhaps the real number was $84 trillion, relying on the National Center for Policy Analysis for that one.

Kessler finally concluded that, without mentioning the imminent implosion occurring at the Disability Trust Fund, the real number to be concerned about was only $30 trillion — equal to the entire economic output of the United States for two years. He did, however, manage to say that whatever number is correct, that it didn’t really matter anyway:

After all, most of these unfunded liabilities are … benefits that this generation’s children and grandchildren will be receiving, and presumably the generation 100 years from now will be able to figure out the best course for their society in their time.

This is what passes for economic wisdom in the present time: It’s a restatement of the hoary quip: “IBD/YBD” – by that time “I’ll be dead and you’ll be dead.”

Accelerating the implosion of these welfare state programs will be new “enhancements” such as those offered by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. In an interview on MSNBC with Rachel Maddow, she said:

This is no time — this is the last time — to be talking about cutting Social Security. This is the moment when we [should] talk about expanding Social Security…

I believe fundamentally [that] we are a people who believe that anyone should be able to retire with dignity. And that’s what Social Security is about. People who work all their lives and pay into it should have a minimum level that they don’t fall beneath. That’s good economics…

Economic reality is vastly different, according to economist Daniel Stelter, author of a report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) entitled “Ending the Era of Ponzi Finance.” Wrote Stelter:

It may seem harsh or exaggerated to liken the current troubles of the developed economies to a  Ponzi scheme. I do so deliberately to emphasize the scope and seriousness of the problem.

Nearly five years after the financial crisis [began], the leaders of the developed world are far too complacent. Politicians and central bankers have continued to “kick the can down the road,” pursuing policies designed to postpone the day of reckoning and avoid telling the public the truth: that a sizable part of the debt will not be paid back in an orderly way.

Stelter and his three associate authors spent the rest of the 24-page report outlining the problems of welfare state schemes dating back to Otto von Bismarck in Germany in the 1880s and reminding his readers of the inevitable disasters set in motion by Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff.

But it’s not too late, said Stelter et al. The measures needed will be harsh and punitive and painful but necessary to keep the present Ponzi schemes of Social Security and Medicare solvent and even successful. They include:

Reducing the national debt severely and immediately through “some combination of write-offs and restructuring, austerity, higher taxes, and sizable inflation…”;

Shrinking those unfunded liabilities by raising the retirement age for benefits, and reducing those benefits when the citizens get there;

Increasing the efficiency of government;

Expanding the labor force to create more taxpayers to help fund the systems: “people will have to work longer,” “grow participation by women in the workforce,” and “encourage family formation”;

Loosening immigration rules but only if they are “highly selective,” attracting only “skilled individuals who will improve the human capital of the country…”;

Investing more money in education;

Rebuilding public infrastructure;

Expanding alternative-energy technologies;

Developing even closer ties between and among global economies and governments; and

“Remov[ing] hurdles to innovation [with] more active anti-trust policies.”

All of which is laughable, according to Gary North, writing in his Remnant Review: “I regard this article as the most sophisticated exercise in terminal naiveté that I have ever read … the article is total poppycock.”

The problem with Ponzi schemes isn’t economics, but psychology. Once an individual is persuaded that he can successfully flout the laws of economics and then becomes dependent upon his certainty that these laws don’t, or won’t, apply to him, there is no amount of reasoning or logic that will cause him to pressure his government to end the fraud before it collapses. Said North:

The essence of the Ponzi scheme is not simply its statistical unsustainability. The essence of the Ponzi scheme is that it is like an addictive drug. Once someone enters into it, he finds it psychologically impossible to face the reality of the unsustainable statistics of the program. He refuses to get out in time. His participation in the scheme fundamentally changes his outlook toward reality. He is no longer capable of being persuaded that he has made a fool of himself…

Once one is covered under these programs, he then claims that because he has paid into Social Security and Medicare for all these years that he has it coming to him. The fact that there is nothing but U.S. Treasury IOUs as assets in each of the trust funds is irrelevant. He says “We paid our Social Security and Medicare taxes; we earned our benefits.”

The only end to these schemes is the complete destruction of them, either through a precipitous collapse where checks start bouncing or through the “salami slicing” of benefits proposed by Stelter: benefit cuts or higher age restrictions before receiving them.

And who is likely to drive such changes as Stelter demands? Where is the political advantage? Notes North: “Unless there are immediate negative sanctions [that result] from continued participation in the Ponzi scheme, which there never [are] until the end, the Ponzi scheme is going to continue until its statistically inevitable demise….”

The news that the Disability Insurance Trust Fund is running out of money ever faster as individuals not only see it as an “income opportunity” but believe it’s necessary to get theirs before it collapses, isn’t really news at all. It’s just another signal that the end of part of one of the Ponzi schemes foisted upon a tired, discouraged, and suffering populace in the 1930s by a socialist government enamored of such Bismarckian schemes is close at hand.

ObamaCare and the President’s Broken Promises

November 25, 2013

From The New American by Raven Clabough, November 22, 2013

As the disastrous blunders continue to pile up in the wake of the launch of ObamaCare, Americans are learning that there is far more to be angry about than simply a costly and inefficient website. It is becoming clear as the healthcare measure takes effect that many of the president’s promises made during the campaign for the law are being broken.

During President Obama’s many speeches advocating his healthcare proposal, he constantly assured the American people that those who were happy with their health insurance plans would be permitted to keep them. He also promised that they would be allowed to keep their physicians if they wished.

“No matter how we reform health care,” Obama declared in 2009, “we will keep this promise: if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.”

An increasing number of Americans are chagrined to learn, however, that it is not as simple as that.

Time.com reported, “In order to participate in health-insurance exchanges, insurers needed to find a way to tamp down the high costs of premiums. As a result, many will narrow their networks, shrinking the range of doctors that are available to patients under their plan, experts say.”

In fact, experts indicate that this is a consequence that the president and those who wrote the law should have been able to foresee.

“Many people are going to find out that the second part of the promise — that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor — just wasn’t true,” asserted Gail Wilensky, who directed the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs under President George H.W. Bush.

According to Wilensky, Obama’s health care advisers, supposedly experts in the field, should have known that some people would need to change doctors. “This is not magic stuff,” she noted.

Likewise, Factcheck.org labelled the president’s promise “misleading,” indicating that while the law does not specify that people would need to pick a new doctor, there is an implicit understanding that a switch may be inevitable for some. “The President simply can’t make this promise to anyone,” the site said.

Time.com observed that shortly after the healthcare law was passed, the Obama administration stopped promising that Americans would be able to keep their physicians.

“If you are looking for, if you want coverage from your doctor, a doctor that you’ve seen in the past, and want that, you can look and see if there’s a plan which that doctor participates in,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. [Emphasis added.]

Wilensky contended that the broken promise about keeping one’s doctor is just one of many. “People better understand that there’s a second shoe to drop,” she said. “[Obama’s] going to have to deal with that, because he has more bad stuff ahead of him.”

Both NBC News and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Obama’s advisers were well aware that the president’s pledges were false, and that in fact many Americans would lose their plans or be forced to change their doctors.

NBC wrote,

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. … That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans.

Townshall reported that tens of millions of Americans will be impacted by these broken promises, with as many as 69 percent of employer-based insurance plans losing that protection. An additional 11 million people who bought their own insurance could also lose their plans, totalling as many as 52 million Americans losing their current health coverage.

Forbes provided some explanation for why Obama and his cohorts felt compelled to make promises about keeping one’s health plans and doctors:

Cast your mind back to the ignominious collapse of Hillarycare in 1994. Hillarycare came out of the box in September 1993 to high public support according to the early polls. This was not a surprise. Opinion polls for decades have shown a large majority of Americans support the general idea of universal health coverage. But Hillarycare came apart as the bureaucratic details came out, the most important one being that you couldn’t be sure you’d be able to keep your doctors or select specialists of your choice. The Clintons refused to consider a compromise, but even with large Democratic Senate and House majorities the bill was so dead it was never brought up for a vote.

Learning from this, President Obama misled the American people in his portrayal of the healthcare measure, marketing it as one that simply expands health coverage to the uninsured, while simultaneously allowing the insured to remain unscathed.

Of course, critics of the law spotted the holes in that story. Forbes observed, “The redistributive arithmetic of Obamacare’s architecture could never add up.”

Many elderly patients are now learning that their current doctors will no longer be covered by their insurance companies, and are being forced to find new doctors.

The New York Post reported, “New York State Medical Society President Sam Unterricht is demanding a congressional probe after learning that one health carrier alone, UnitedHealthcare, is terminating contracts with up to 2,100 doctors serving 8,000 Medicare Advantage patients in the New York metro region.”

And a large number of Americans are also beginning to lose their physicians — who by and large are adamantly opposed to the healthcare law — because many in the medical community are either seeking early retirement or moving to a cash-only plan with their patients.

Just 23 percent of 409 doctors surveyed indicated they will be taking patients who have signed up through ObamaCare health exchanges.

In fact, some analysts have asserted that the failures associated with Healthcare.gov are a result of the government’s unwillingness to allow users to see the true costs of ObamaCare, thereby uncovering even more broken promises.

“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” reported Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.”

And why was that provision delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies,”explained the Journal.

According to Forbes, the frustrations associated with shortcomings of the healthcare.gov website are nothing compared to the anger the American people will experience as the president’s broken promises become ever more apparent. The magazine added, “The website is a sideshow. The real action is the number of people and businesses who are losing their health plans or having to pay a lot more. Fixing the website will only delay the inevitable.”

The Troubled ObamaCare Website: Spinning a Failure

November 25, 2013

From The New American by Ralph R. Reiland, November 22, 2013

“Even with the issues we’ve had, the marketplace is working and people are enrolling,” happily announced Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on November 13, bizarrely referring to the botched launching of the federal government’s Obamacare website and the official admission that only 26,794 people had managed to sign up for health insurance in October using the troubled HealthCare.gov federal site.

“It is very much up-and-running,” said Sebelius, deceptively referring to the still-malfunctioning federal website.

We’re lucky she’s not a pilot. I can imagine Captain Sebelius’s announcement from the cockpit to a plane load of panicking passengers as she’s crashing a transatlantic flight directly into the ocean. “Hold on folks, we’re just stopping for some really fresh fish while I bang the @#$%& glitches out of these @#$%& instruments!”

Altogether, 106,185 people selected health insurance in October using the federal and state sites — 79,391 using the 15 state-run websites and 26,794 people using the federal site that covers the balance of the states.

October’s total enrollment figure of 106,185 was only about one-fifth of the 500,000 enrollees that the Obama administration predicted would sign up during the first month and only 1.5 percent of the enrollees that the administration predicted would be signed up by March 31.

Additionally, the 106,185 enrollee number “includes those who have selected a plan who either have or have not paid their first month’s premium,” said the Department of Health and Human Services.

Secretary Sebelius told reporters on a conference call that Health and Human Services would be able to tell them by December 15th how many people had paid for their month of October coverage.

Sebelius told reporters that the whole insurance thing is mighty tricky — getting the enrollee numbers right, the no-pays, the glitches, the security holes. “Buying insurance,” she said, “is very different from buying as toaster.”

No reporter responded by pointing out we’d probably never again be able to get a piece of bread that was toasted to precisely the preferred shade of golden brown on both sides if the federal government made toasters.

In any case, the Department of Health and Human Services tried to spin October’s sorry enrollee numbers as a success, deceivingly proclaiming, “The first month enrollment experience in the marketplace exceeds comparable first month enrollment in the Commonwelath Care program in the Massachusetts Health Connector.

Citing comparable enrollment numbers as a victory for the administration, they didn’t mention that the population of Massachusetts is just 2 percent of the population of the United States — the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 population number for Massachusetts of 6,646,194 versus the nation’s population of 317,062,164 on the U.S. Population Clock as I’m typing this sentence. In any case, more than 47 million U.S. adults now go without health insurance. Enrolling people at October’s rate of 106,185 per month, and assuming that those who aren’t fully subsidized will get around to paying their premiums, it will take just short of a half-century to get everyone insured.

Except it’s worse than that because an estimated five million people lost their health insurance while the government bureaucracies were signing up 106,185 customers — and more piles of insurance cancellations are in the mail.

All this blew up while they were just trying to get people to shop and buy — the easy part, like going online to buy a car. The real explosion of incompetency is going to occur when they start tearing the product apart.

Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.