Links for 7-31-2013

Links for 7-30-2013

  • Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote an op-ed for The Washington Times that characterizes the Obama administration’s attempt to impose a preclearance requirement on Texas via Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act as a partisan attempt to turn Texas blue:

    The president’s partisan use of the Voting Rights Act actually hurts many minority voters in Texas. With the administration’s support, redistricting litigation already has unseated Texas state Reps. Jose Aliseda, Raul Torres, Aaron Pena and John Garza, as well as U.S. Rep. Quico Canseco. These representatives – all Republicans – won in 2010 in predominantly Hispanic districts. In 2011, however, the Obama administration and other partisan interest groups succeeded in getting a court to draw district lines so that only a Democrat could win these seats. As a direct result, all of these Republican Hispanic representatives lost their seats in 2012 except for Mr. Aliseda, who chose not to run for re-election. His district had been dismantled altogether at Democrats’ request… Similarly, polling consistently shows that Hispanic Texans strongly support voter-ID requirements, another target of the administration’s litigious political strategy… The administration’s absurd claim that this common-sense fraud prevention device is actually a racist plot to prevent minorities from voting would be comical if it weren’t so depressing to see an American president stoop to that level.

  • You can add former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to the list of Republicans who want Congress to rewrite Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act so preclearance requirements go into effect again.

  • The Obama administration is hiring “Behavioral Insights Teams” to encourage the proles to better comply with federal government directives.

  • Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler’s baby daughter Abigail Rose may be the first known survivor of Potter Syndrome. Abigail has no working kidneys and as a consequence had very little amniotic fluid in the womb; normally this leads to underdeveloped lungs and death. Doctors at Johns Hopkins used an experimental procedure to inject saline solution into the womb and Abigail was born at 28 weeks with fully developed lungs. She still needs a kidney transplant.

  • A U.S. District Court judge issued a permanent injunction preventing Indiana from defunding Planned Parenthood.

  • A military court found Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy (treason), but convicted him on 20 counts that could put him in prison for life.

  • Michael Stokes Paulsen wrote an interesting article describing Abraham Lincoln’s Order of Retaliation and drawing modern parallels to it.

  • The Taliban staged a complex assault against a prison in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, freeing more than 200 prisoners. Meanwhile, the Obama administration freed five members of the Taliban from Club Gitmo to encourage peace talks related to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

  • The poster child for the Arab Spring, Tunisia, is sliding back toward mass protests and violence.

Links for 7-29-2013

Links for 7-27-2013

  • Jonathan Strong wrote an article for National Review describing how Congressman Justin Amash’s anti-NSA amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill went to a floor vote. The establishment Republicans tried to torpedo the amendment on technicalities before Amash started recruiting Republicans to kill the Defense Appropriations bill in the House Rules Committee if his amendment wasn’t considered.

  • The “Midwest Coalition for Human Rights” sent a letter to the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights asking it to intervene in Chicago’s plan to close 49 elementary schools, calling the plan a human rights violation: “The letter argues that the 49 school closings violate human rights because they affect black families disproportionately, because they force students to cross gang lines to get to the new schools they will attend, because class sizes will be slightly larger and because the school closings happened despite the objections of some people.” Bill Ayers (among others) signed the letter.

  • Citizens United produced a documentary on Terry McAuliffe called “Fast Terry.”

Links for 7-26-2013

  • Senator Mike Lee wrote an excellent op-ed piece for the Washington Examiner entitled “The Middle Class or the Middle Men?”: “If the economy seems rigged these days, that’s because it is. Big government, big business, and big special interests manipulate the rules to profit at everyone else’s expense. Companies succeed not by serving customers, but politicians and bureaucrats. In Barack Obama’s economy, Wall Street gets a bailout, Solyndra-gets a hand out, liberal interests get a carve-out, and everyone else gets left out.”

  • Governor Chris Christie participated in a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute Thursday night and said, “This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought.” He went on to name Senator Rand Paul as an offender. Paul responded via Twitter: “Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.” This is a good debate, but you can plainly see the wide gap between the Republican establishment and the conservative-headed-to-libertarian Republican base, and I don’t foresee that gap closing. That’s good news for Hillary Clinton.

  • Congressman Paul Ryan told an audience in Racine that the House will pass immigration reform piecewise and combine the result with the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill in conference committee, resulting in something the conservative-headed-to-libertarian Republican base will riot over.

  • Senate Democrats are trying to increase the IRS’s budget by $276.5 million next year. Meanwhile the union representing IRS employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, is working to exempt the IRS from ObamaCare, which, you might recall, is a law enforced primarily by the IRS.

  • The House Ethics Committee extended its investigation into Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign. It also extended investigations involving Tim Bishop (D-NY), Pete Roskam (R-IL), and John Tierney (D-MA).

  • While making a press appearance alongside Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, President Obama said, “…we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson.” Chris Stirewalt offers Obama a history lesson: “While Jefferson did get pretty fired up about ‘the blood of tyrants,’ it’s hard to see how the Sage of Monticello inspired the murderous career of the Vietnamese dictator. Ho famously slaughtered his opponents, including the infamous butchery of peasant farmers who resisted his brutal taxation in the early days of Ho’s regime. Not particularly Jeffersonian… Ho, whose preserved corpse lies in a glass tomb modeled after Lenin’s in Hanoi, was a seriously bad actor. Whether the United States should have sought to oust him or not or whether the war was rightly fought, Ho was not any heir to Jefferson and the Founding Fathers.”

  • PJ Media reports that a Republican National Committee consultant named Tom Hofeller is promoting the idea that Texas and other states need to be subject to the section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because “federal election oversight law is essential to elect Republicans,” which is, in a word, insane.

  • Mark Steyn and National Review appear to have drawn an awful judge in the lawsuit brought by Michael Mann. Not only does she accept the EPA’s opinion as scientific fact, but she can’t write to save her life, which makes you wonder about her ability to think critically.

  • Federal agencies are reportedly asking Internet companies to divulge user passwords. Passwords shouldn’t be (and usually aren’t) stored as clear text, so asking for stored passwords is of limited value unless 1) the companies are also divulging the cryptographic techniques they apply to passwords before storing them, or 2) the federal agencies are cracking the passwords themselves.

Links for 7-25-2013

Links for 7-24-2013

  • Congressman Justin Amash’s amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that prohibits the NSA from collecting phone and email metadata from American citizens who aren’t under investigation failed on a 205–217 vote.

  • Planned Parenthood paid $1.4 million to the state of Texas to settle improper Medicaid billing charges. Part of the money will go to the federal government and to a whistleblower who alerted the state to the problem.

  • The NSA responded to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by ProPublica by stating that the agency is unable to search its internal emails en masse, only person-by-person. Of course the NSA probably wouldn’t encounter such a problem searching ProPublica’s emails.

  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will have trouble cutting a deal with Lois Lerner to testify about the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups who applied for tax exempt status because Lerner knows Eric Holder will never prosecute her, and without a legal threat there’s little reason for her to testify in exchange for immunity.

  • The chair of the Senate Finance Committee and the ranking Republican are offering their colleagues 50 years of secrecy in exchange for suggestions on what deductions and credits ought to survive a re-write of the tax code. From the linked article: “Deeming the submissions confidential, the Senate’s top tax writers have said only certain staff members – 10 in all – will get direct access to a senator’s written suggestions. Each submission will also be given its own ID number and be kept on password-protected servers, with printed versions kept in locked safes.” I’m pretty sure this isn’t how a representative republic is supposed to work.

  • Senator Robert Menendez told a group at the Center for American Progress that they need to pressure the House of Representatives to pass some kind of immigration reform bill so there’s a House-Senate conference committee that can settle on the “Gang of Eight” bill. This conference committee tactic is going to be important in the context of continuing resolutions to fund the government as well.

  • Ted Olson wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal explaining how the federal government is robbing private investors in Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. The billions of dollars the government is collecting from the two companies is helping to fund operations while the debt ceiling is maxed out.

  • Renee Vaughan, the Austin community organizer who held up a “We’re racist and proud!” sign during a “March for Trayvon” protest in Houston, apologized for her actions.