12 Reasons I Voted Democratic Letter

12 Reasons I Voted Democratic Letter

James Anderson, a native of Talladega, Alabama, wrote a letter to the editor several years ago that went viral almost instantly. And while it’s been around for a while, it’s begun going viral again, perhaps as the 2016 presidential election starts to heat up.

Anderson gave 12 reasons why he voted Democrat, apparently in reference to the 2012 election. Here they are:

1. I voted Democratic because I love the fact that I can now marry whatever I want. I now may marry my Labrador.

2. I voted Democratic because I believe oil companies’ profits of 4 percent on a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15 percent isn’t.

3. I voted Democratic because I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

4. I voted Democratic because freedom of speech is fine as long as I agree with what is said and nobody else is offended by it.

5. I voted Democratic because I’m way too irresponsible to own a gun and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves.

6. I voted Democratic because I believe that people who can’t tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in 10 years if I don’t start driving a Prius.

7. I voted Democratic because I’m not concerned about millions of babies being aborted so long as we keep all death row inmates alive.

8. I voted Democratic because I think illegal aliens have a right to free health care, education and Social Security benefits, and we should take away the Social Security from those who paid into it.

9. I voted Democratic because I believe that businesses should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as the Democrats see fit.

10. I voted Democratic because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.

11. I voted Democratic because I think that it’s better to pay billions for their oil to people who hate us but not drill our own because it might upset some endangered beetle, spotted owl, gopher or fish.

12. I voted Democratic because my head is so firmly misplaced toward the south end of my body, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever have another point of view.

Anderson’s conclusion was probably the best part of the whole letter: “No trees, Spotted Owls or Red Cock-headed Woodpeckers were harmed in the sending of this message.”

Although entertaining, it’s also quite depressing because most of these points actually illustration how many Democrats think — if that’s the right word — when deciding how to vote.

Please share this story on Facebook and Twitter and let us know what you think about these 12 reasons to vote for a Democrat.

Thanks to http://conservativetribune.com/

Rubio Scores Big on Abortion Question

Rubio GOP Debate Feb 6

One of the strongest moments of the debate.

“On abortion, the Democrats are extremists.”

Every Republican and conservative in America knows the media’s double standards when it comes to asking hard questions. It was especially evident this week in the difference between the Democrat and Republican debates. And it is the most evident in how the media deal with abortion. Sen. Rubio takes them apart over it.

For a guy who had a rough debate, that was still one of the strongest moments of the night.

Pro-life Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio fielded a question on abortion today from a mainstream media reporter attempting to make his pro-life views look extreme. But Rubio turned the question around in an amazing way and used it to highlight Hillary Clinton’s radical pro-abortion views favoring abortion throughout pregnancy without limits.

Reporter: “You’ve mentioned that life begins at conception. Do you believe a fertilized egg has legal protection?”

Rubio: “I believe all life is worthy of the protection of our laws. That’s what I believe.”

Rubio: “I believe that it’s outrageous that Hillary Clinton supports partial-birth abortion, which is a gruesome process that’s been outlawed in the United States but she supports it as a process that should be legal. I believe that a child, an unborn child at 24, 25 weeks who is viable outside the womb, it should not be legal to abort. Hillary Clinton believes it should be. She’s in the minority on both of those issues.”

Rubio: “These are radical issues and I look forward to exposing them in the general election.”

Obama Will Confront America’s Most Dangerous Enemy

Obama Head in HandsYou might think that America’s most dangerous enemy would be ISIS, or maybe Russia, or maybe an increasingly aggressive nuclear North Korea, or maybe a saber-rattling Iran (who we just gave nuclear technology to). But you would be wrong. Obama has not done anything meaningful during his tenure to confront any of those, and he does not intend to start now.

No, Obama will be taking on a much more sinister and deadly foe: Republicans.

(CNN)Seeking to rebut what he views as perilous election-year bombast about Muslims, President Barack Obama heads Wednesday to a mosque in Baltimore, his first visit to such a site in the United States.

At the Islamic Society of Baltimore, a 47-year-old mosque with thousands of attendees, Obama plans to herald the contributions of Muslims to American society while issuing a forceful counterpoint to the language favored by some Republican presidential candidates like Donald Trump, according to White House officials.

“We’ve seen an alarming willingness on the part of some Republicans to try to marginalize law-abiding, patriotic Muslim Americans,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday. “It’s just offensive to a lot of Americans who recognize that those kinds of cynical political tactics run directly contrary to the values that we hold dear in this country. And I think the President is looking forward to the opportunity to make that point.”

Oh, well thank God. All that rhetoric against Muslims has led to exactly zero deaths in the United States, which is less than you would expect to happen just as a matter of overall homicide statistics in the United States. But still, it’s such an important problem that in order to combat it, Obama is willing to enlist the help of some controversial allies:extremist Muslims who hate America.

Barack Obama is making his first presidential visit to a U.S. mosque on Wednesday, but the historic occasion is being overshadowed by criticism that the Baltimore-area center he chose has extremist ties.

The controversy centers around the Islamic Society of Baltimore’s former imam, who has ties not only to the Muslim Brotherhood but the Northern Virginia mosque where the radical Anwar al-Awlaki used to preach.

* * *

During his time in Baltimore, El-Sheikh was a regional director for the Islamic American Relief Agency, the international parent organization of which has been cited by the U.S. Treasury Department for connections to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. After 2003, he was the imam for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., near Washington. It was there that Awlaki, just months earlier, gave his fiery sermons, before going on to be a top Al Qaeda affiliate operative in Yemen. Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

I don’t think that Obama is some sort of secret Muslim at all. I don’t really believe he has any religious authority higher than himself.

But let’s ask this: how would his Presidency have looked different at all if he was?

Republicans outperform Democrats in Iowa caucuses

Iowa Caucuses

Ignore who WON the Iowa Caucuses for a moment. Note who showed up.

The Republican party in Iowa did a better job in voter turnout last night, both in terms of absolute number of voters and in comparison to previous benchmarks. In raw numbers, the totals were: 185K Republicans to 171K Democrats (which is even better than 2008’s results). The difference was starker when you look at relative vote totals: in 2012 (the last competitive Republican caucus) the GOP got 121K votes, while in 2008 (the last competitive Democratic caucus) the Democrats got 239K votes. In other words: Democrats in Iowa were simply not as engaged in the process as the Republicans were – and last night, it showed.

Then again, why should the Democrats be engaged?  Their nominal (adjective chosen with malice aforethought) front-runner Hillary Clinton has essentially no arguments for picking her besides the fact that she’s a woman… and, much more importantly, that she feels utterly entitled to the job. Her major opponent Bernie Sanders is an equally-old Socialist who’d much rather be a Communist, only not even Vermont would elect a dirty, stinking Commie to federal office. And Martin O’Malley is now gone, if indeed he was ever really there to begin with.

But the funniest part of the joke? The Democrats went to some trouble to arrange this state of affairs. Seldom have I seen such a concerted effort by a party to deliberately dampen its own turnout. Well, they got their wish… and Bernie Sanders almost won the Iowa caucus anyway. So I’d have to say that things aren’t turning out the way the Democrats planned.

Moe Lane

PS: If you’re wondering how a political party will be able to manage the neat trick of turning off its voters for a primary, then turning them back on for the general election – that’s an interesting question! I can’t wait to see what the Democrats try to do to make that happen.  …And note the use of the word ‘try.’

Rewarding the IRS with a Bigger Budget

The IRS Grinch
The good thing about being nonpartisan is that I can freely criticize (or even praise) policy makers without giving any thought to whether they have an R or D after their name.

That doesn’t mean Republicans and Democrats are the same, at least with regards to rhetoric. The two big political parties in the United States ostensibly have some core beliefs. And because of that, it is sometimes very revealing to identify deviations.

Democrats supposedly believe the rich should pay higher taxes and that low-tax jurisdictions should be persecuted, yet many Democrat bigwigs utilize tax havens.

Republicans supposedly believe in smaller government, yet many of them decide to get rich by lobbying to expand the size and scope of Washington.

Democrats supposedly believe there’s a big gender pay gap, but Obama’s top economic adviser said such numbers are fake and Hillary gave higher pay to men in her office.

Let’s now add to the list.

The IRS has stonewalled and treated Congress with contempt. The bureaucrats have disregarded the law to advance Obama’s hard-left agenda. They have used their power to help Obama’s reelection campaign. And IRS employees even donate lots of money to Democrats.

Given all this, you would think Republicans would be doing everything possible to punish this rogue bureaucracy. Even if only because of self interest rather than principles.

Yet GOPers decided, as part of their capitulation on spending caps (again!), to boost the IRS’s budget. I’m not joking. The Hill has a report with the sordid details.

The spending bill…provides an increase in funding to the Internal Revenue Service, a rare win for an agency that has been on the outs with congressional Republicans. The $1.1 trillion omnibus provides an additional $290 million for the IRS, an increase of 3 percent over the last fiscal year.

What’s especially discouraging is that Congress was on track to reduce the IRS’s bloated budget.

…the outcome for the IRS in the omnibus could have been far worse. A bill advanced by the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year that would have slashed IRS funding by $838 million, while a bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee would have reduced funding by $470 million. Instead, the spending package gives the IRS a nearly $300 million bump.

This is yet another piece of evidence that budget deals crafted behind closed doors inevitably produce bad numbers and bad policy.

And it’s certainly another sign that Republicans truly are the Stupid Party.

Just in case you think I’m being unfair to either GOPers or the IRS, let’s look at some recent developments. Here are the best parts of an editorial on unseemly IRS behavior from the Washington Examiner.

President Obama’s IRS repeatedly los[es] hard drives loaded with data related to scandals at the agency. To lose one might be regarded as suspicious happenstance; to lose two looks like conspiracy. The most famous case is that of Lois Lerner, whose division became notorious for targeting conservative groups applying for nonprofit status. Her computer hard drive malfunctioned before that scandal broke, around the same time Congress was looking for information on a separate IRS targeting scheme aimed at conservative donors. …The newest case of IRS hard drive trouble happened last April, but came to light only this month. …the IRS has notified the Justice Department that it erased a hard drive after being ordered not to do so by a federal judge. In this case, the missing communications are those of a former IRS official named Samuel Maruca in the Large Business and International division. He is believed to have been among the senior IRS employees who made the unusual and possibly illegal decision in May 2014 to hire the outside law firm Quinn Emanuel to help conduct an audit of Microsoft Corporation.

And here’s some shocking (or maybe not so shocking) information from the Daily Caller. The IRS’s new ethics chief (wow, there’s an oxymoron) has a track record of illegally destroying records.

The new head of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) ethics office once oversaw the illegal shredding of documents sought by the federal tax agency’s inspector general (IG), and allegedly retaliated on the colleague he believed snitched on him about it.

Yup, he sounds like the kind of guy who deserves a bigger budget.

Let’s close with some very good advice from the Washington Examiner.

In the nearly three years since the targeting scandal was revealed, it has become clear that it was just a symptom of a much deeper problem at the IRS — a culture that lacks accountability, rewards failure, and persecutes the innocent. …it needs a thorough housecleaning, not…bonuses.

Too bad Republicans decided the entire IRS deserved a big bonus.

P.S. From my archives, here are some examples of the bureaucrats who will benefit from a bigger IRS budget.

P.P.P.S. And since we’re recycling some oldies but goodies, here’s my collection of IRS humor, including a new Obama 1040 form, a death tax cartoon, a list of tax day tips from David Letterman, a cartoon of how GPS would work if operated by the IRS, an IRS-designed pencil sharpener, two Obamacare/IRS cartoons (here and here), a sale on 1040-form toilet paper (a real product), a song about the tax agency, the IRS’s version of the quadratic formula, and (my favorite) a joke about a Rabbi and an IRS agent.

Former IG: Clinton, State Dept. are lying

“This was all planned in advance” to skirt rules governing federal records management, said Howard J. Krongard, who served as the agency’s inspector general from 2005 to 2008.

The Harvard-educated lawyer points out that, from Day One, Hillary Clinton was never assigned and never used a state.gov e-mail address like previous secretaries.

“That’s a change in the standard. It tells me that this was premeditated. And this eliminates claims by the State Department that they were unaware of her private e-mail server until later,” Krongard said in an exclusive interview. “How else was she supposed to do business without e-mail?”

Modal Trigger

Photo: AP

He also points to the unusual absence of a permanent inspector general during Hillary Clinton’s entire 2009-2013 term at the department. He said the 5¹/₂-year vacancy was unprecedented.

“This is a major gap. In fact, it’s without precedent,” he said. “It’s the longest period any department has gone without an IG.”

Inspectors general serve an essential and unique role in the federal government by independently investigating agency waste, fraud and abuse. Their oversight also covers violations of communications security procedures.

“It’s clear she did not want to be subject to internal investigations,” Krongard said. An e-mail audit would have easily uncovered the secret information flowing from classified government networks to the private unprotected system she set up in her New York home.

He says “the key” to the FBI’s investigation of Emailgate is determining how highly sensitive state secrets in the classified network, known as SIPRNet, ended up in Hillary Clinton’s personal e-mails.

“The starting point of the investigation is the material going through SIPRNet. She couldn’t function without the information coming over SIPRNet,” Krongard said. “How did she get it on her home server? It can’t just jump from one system to the other. Someone had to move it, copy it. The question is who did that?”

As The Post first reported, the FBI is investigating whether Hillary Clinton’s deputies copied top-secret information from the department’s classified network to its unclassified network where it was sent to Hillary’s unsecured, unencrypted e-mail account.

‘It tells me that this was premeditated. And this eliminates claims by the State Department that they were unaware of her private e-mail server until later’

 – Howard J. Krongard on the State Dept. never giving Hillary an agency e-mail address

FBI agents are focusing on three of Hillary Clinton’s top department aides. Most of the 1,340 Clinton e-mails deemed classified by intelligence agency reviewers were sent to her by her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, or her deputy chiefs, Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan, who now hold high positions in Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“They are facing significant scrutiny now,” Krongard said, and are under “enormous pressure to cooperate” with investigators.

He says staffers who had access to secret material more than likely summarized it for Clinton in the e-mails they sent to her; but he doesn’t rule out the use of thumb drives to transfer classified information from one system to the other, which would be a serious security breach. Some of the classified computers at Foggy Bottom have ports for memory sticks.

Either way, there would be an audit trail for investigators to follow. The SIPRNet system maintains the identity of all users and their log-on and log-off times, among other activities.

“This totally eliminates the false premise that she got nothing marked classified,” Krongard said. “She’s hiding behind this defense. But they [e-mails] had to be classified, because otherwise [the information in them] wouldn’t be on the SIPRNet.”

Added Krongard: “She’s trying to distance herself from the conversion from SIPRNet to [the nonsecure] NIPRNet and to her server, but she’s throwing her staffers under the bus.”

Modal Trigger

Photo: EPA

Still, “It will never get to an indictment,” Krongard said.

For one, he says, any criminal referral to the Justice Department from the FBI “will have to go through four loyal Democrat women” — Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, who heads the department’s criminal division; Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; Attorney General Loretta Lynch; and top White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Even if they accept the referral, he says, the case quickly and quietly will be plea-bargained down to misdemeanors punishable by fines in a deal similar to the one Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, secured for Gen. David Petraeus. In other words, a big slap on the wrist.

“He knows the drill,” Krongard said of Kendall.

Paul Sperry is a visiting media fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of “Infiltration.”

By Paul Sperry for the NY Post

Clean Power Rules Loom in West Virginia

Clean Power Rules Loom in West Virginia

Coal mining boots rest atop miners’ lockers before the afternoon shift at a coal mine near Gilbert, W.Va., in May 2014. (Photo: Robert Galbraith/Reuters/Newscom)

As Obama’s Clean Power Rules go into effect West Virginia has turned to prayer to change the hearts and minds of those who want to destroy Appalachia.

CHARLESTON, W.Va.—There’s little separation between church and the fossil fuel industry in West Virginia’s coal country. Still reeling from recent mine shutdowns, the state legislature has set aside Jan. 31 as a “day of prayer for coal miners.”

“We need a higher power to change the hearts and minds of those who want to destroy Appalachia.”—Roger Horton, Citizens for Coal

On Sunday, a congregation of pastors, businessmen, and lawmakers will seek divine intervention in one of the nation’s hardest-hit coal economies. Doubtless, though, many will ask for deliverance from what they consider a man-made crisis.

“West Virginia’s absolutely in dire straits,” Roger Horton, president of Citizens for Coal, the organization that spearheaded the prayer effort, said in an interview Wednesday with The Daily Signal. “The point we’re trying to stress is that we need a higher power to change the hearts and minds of those who want to destroy Appalachia.”

The legislators and businessmen who gathered at the 43rd annual West Virginia Coal Symposium here seem to agree and likely will pray that God change Washington.

“The vast majority of the problem comes from President Obama and his EPA’s war on coal,” state Senate President Bill Cole, a Republican, told The Daily Signal.

Cole, who also serves as lieutenant governor and is running for governor, argues that the increased cost of new regulations has priced coal out of the market, persuading consumers to use other energy sources and pushing miners out of their jobs.

An Avalanche of Layoffs

Whether he’s right or not, there’s plenty to pray about in the Mountain State.

The first three weeks of January witnessed an avalanche of layoffs, leaving almost 2,000 coal miners permanently out of work by some estimates. And just recently, one of the largest producers in the state, the now bankrupt Alpha Natural Resources, announced its own bad news. In July, the company will cut another 900 jobs.

But even as the boom in natural gas continues to put new pressure on coal, many West Virginians blame government regulation, not the market, for the downturn.

Under the Obama administration, the past seven years have brought new regulations on coal mining and, critics say, a host of new costs. Now the industry is bracing for the latest and most sweeping regulation issued unilaterally by the EPA: the Clean Power Plan.

The rule requires states to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent before 2030 and gives them until Sept. 6 to submit their plans to do it.

The Clean Power Plan is a key component of Obama’s effort to execute the global climate agenda struck last month in Paris. Proponents say the international compact will substantially clean up the environment by encouraging renewable fuels. Opponents say it will bankrupt the coal industry by imposing new regulations.

“When coal goes away, it’s devastation and poverty in the worst form,” @BillColeWV says.

On Wednesday, Cole told The Daily Signal that communities in his district are still recovering from existing rules.

“We’ve closed down power plant after power plant and destroyed our own market for coal,” the Senate president and lieutenant governor said. “When you get into those southern coal communities, when coal goes away, it’s devastation and poverty in the worst form.”

Fates Intertwined

Cole points to the “ghost towns” in West Virginia’s McDowell County. Once the leading coal-producing region in the nation, the county ranks as one of the poorest in the country. Without mining, the median household income peaks just above $22,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But it’s not just individual counties that are hurting. The coal market is tightly intertwined with West Virginia’s financial health. Fossil fuel provides more than half of the government’s business income tax and adds billions to the state’s bottom line.

In recent years, as the coal market shifted, West Virginia lost its footing further. The Associated Press reports that the state expects a budget deficit of $284 million for 2016 and another $466 million in 2017.

West Virginia House Speaker Tim Armstead, a Republican, attributes part of that funding gap to “the devastating ripple effect” of every mine shutdown.

“Every time we see a mine close,” Armstead told The Daily Signal, “our men and women are put out of work. That not only impacts them and their families, but it influences all the businesses in that community.”

“This over-regulation has stifled production [and] put our people out of work,” @ArmsteadWV says.

And although both of the state’s top lawmakers credit their congressional delegation to Washington for bringing attention to the issue, they say the Obama administration has turned a deaf ear.

“It’s very clear that this over-regulation has stifled production [and] has put our people out of work. They recognize that,” Armstead said of the administration.

Rather than attending the Paris climate summit last year, the House speaker said, he wished “Obama would visit West Virginia instead.”

‘Get Out of the Lord’s Way’

Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said Obama is making good on promises.

“He’s simply done what he’s wanted to do,” Raney said Wednesday, referring to remarks Obama made as a presidential candidate in 2008. “He said he was going to bankrupt the industry when he was running [for president], and that’s what he’s set out to do.”

The administration continues to “circumvent Congress” with executive action and an unaccountable Environmental Protection Agency, the coal association president said.

Congress last month tried to halt the EPA’s Clean Power Plan using the Congressional Review Act. They failed when Obama vetoed their resolution of disapproval aimed at voiding the new rule.

West Virginia is among 27 states that have mounted a legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan, arguing that without congressional approval, the rule amounts to “a power grab.”

Now before the District of Columbia Circuit Court, that case will be decided this summer but is expected to come before the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in 2017.

Although Raney said “going to court is now our only recourse,” he also sees another last option for coal producers fearful of new regulation: prayer.

“If we have enough sense to get out of the Lord’s way, he often provides a path for us,” Raney said. “Certainly he must be aware of the suffering that’s going on and of how deeply its cutting in the coal fields.”

What Is Planned Parenthood Doing Behind the Curtain?

Planned Parenthood protest led by David Daleiden

Texas has refused to indict Planned Parenthood for violating a Texas statute that prohibits the attempted sale of human organs. (Photo: Flickr / American Life League / CC BY-NC 2.0)

In an astonishing bit of legerdemain, a local grand jury in Harris County, Texas, has refused to indict Planned Parenthood for violating a Texas statute that prohibits the attempted sale of human organs, despite the video evidence to the contrary showing Planned Parenthood doctors and executives discussing organ sales.

But the very same grand jury has indicted David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), who organized, filmed, and released the undercover “60 Minutes”-style videos, for supposedly violating the very same Texas statute, which also prohibits the attempted purchase of human organs.

In other words, a private individual whose only intent is to expose possibly illegal activity is under indictment for actions in connection with an undercover video operation, but the illegal actor itself—Planned Parenthood—is off the hook. This backward situation will undoubtedly chill journalistic activity in Texas and elsewhere.

According to copies of the two charging sheets filed with the Harris County Clerk’s Office that we obtained, Daleiden and his colleague, Sandra Merritt, were also indicted for tampering with a governmental record—specifically, making and presenting a falsified California driver’s license, which is a felony.

The charging sheet for the organ purchase violation is based on the Texas Penal Code §48.02: Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs.

A violation occurs if a person “knowingly or intentionally offers to buy, offers to sell, acquires, receives, sells, or otherwise transfers any human organ for valuable consideration.” This is a misdemeanor charge, and there are various exceptions, such as for “reimbursement of legal or medical expenses incurred for the benefit of the ultimate receiver of the organ.”

The undercover videos that CMP released certainly seem to show that Planned Parenthood employees were trying to receive much greater compensation for the organs of aborted babies than a simple reimbursement of costs. They talk about getting “top dollar” and discuss different prices for various organs. Handling and transportation costs are not going to change whether you are harvesting—what a euphemism for what is really going on—a liver or a heart.

You even have one Planned Parenthood executive caught saying she needed to get the right price for aborted organs because she wants “a Lamborghini,” which, if it was a joke, was an atrocious one.

The point, however, is that if the grand jury believes that Daleiden should be charged with offering to buy a human organ, based on the videos, it almost inconceivable that the same grand jury would not also conclude that Planned Parenthood should be charged with violating the same statute by offering to sell him human organs. The entire context of the video involves a complicated haggling process, but only one of the two parties appears to actually intend to go through with the illegal sale—and that party is Planned Parenthood.

Crucially, the Texas statute also has a clear intent standard: A violation requires the grand jury to find that CMP made its offer to buy “knowingly and intentionally.” Given that the grand jury knew that all of these videos were part of an undercover sting operation intended solely to show what Planned Parenthood was doing; that CMP was not actually in the business of purchasing organs like one of Planned Parenthood’s other partners, StemExpress; and that it was a fake offer, how could the grand jury possibly conclude that this intent standard was met? It is highly likely that no reasonable jury would ever convict under these admittedly unusual factual circumstances.

This indictment also sets a terrible precedent.

Over the past decades, there have been countless undercover video operations conducted by major news organizations at ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN, and others, as well as local at news stations all over the country. Today, the Internet has made it possible for citizen-journalists and investigators to employ the same techniques to expose wrongdoing without the need for the major resources required by shows like CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

While this is not the case with the Texas statutes at issue, there are even some federal laws that encourage this type of behavior. For example, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act) authorizes private undercover testers and sponsoring organizations to recover damages if they discover discriminatory racial treatment in housing, even if they had no intention of moving in, or used fake identities (tampering with a government document!), or even if the conduct was illegal under state law!

Usually, a black individual or couple poses as prospective tenants in order to uncover racist housing policies. Should these individuals, reporters at major news operations, and citizen-journalists be treated as criminals or held civilly liable if they used a fake ID to expose wrongdoing? We should be encouraging undercover operations that root out illegal behavior, not criminalizing them.

Law professor Ron Rotunda, an expert on legal ethics who holds the Henley Chair and is a distinguished professor of jurisprudence at Chapman University, told us that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott should stop this abusive prosecution by pardoning the two defendants and then ask that a new prosecutor investigate Planned Parenthood’s apparent trafficking in body parts.

Ken Paxton, Texas’ attorney general, has already announced that the state’s investigation of Planned Parenthood and the “shameful disregard for human life of the abortion industry” is ongoing.

What we do know is that there are a lot of unanswered questions regarding the possible bias of the Harris County district attorney’s office, and its apparent fixation on prosecuting citizen-journalists rather than the malfeasance they exposed.

Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative. Read his research.

Andrew R. Kloster is a legal fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, focusing on civil rights, the role of the federal courts and other constitutional issues.Read his research.

Congress needs to reassert its lawmaking power

Congress needs to reassert its lawmaking power

Congress needs to reassert its lawmaking power. (Photo: Vince Young / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Congress deserves some credit. They passed legislation to try and block some of the Environmental Protection Agency’s overreach, even recognizing that President Barack Obama would veto its bills.

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can use an expedited process to rescind agency rules and block an agency from issuing any rule that is substantially the same as the rejected rule.

This is precisely what Congress did for three egregious Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules: two greenhouse gas (GHG) rules, the president’s Clean Power Plan and new source performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, and the infamous EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.

Clean Power Plan and New Source Performance Standards

 The Clean Power Plan requires states to meet carbon dioxide emissions reduction goals for existing power plants. The greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standards rule caps emissions of carbon dioxide from new power plants so low as to effectively prevent any coal power plant from running without carbon capture and sequestration technology (which has yet to be proven feasible).

The rules are all pain and no gain. The rules would be extremely costly to American families and businesses, particularly so for the poor, Midwestern states which rely more heavily on coal for electricity, and the manufacturing sector which is on the threshold of renewed growth brought on by the oil and gas revolution.

What’s the benefit of this self-inflicted harm to the economy and American people? Next to nothing. The entire purpose of reducing greenhouse gasses is allegedly to have an impact on global temperatures (reductions in greenhouse gasses are just a means to that alleged end, but it often gets confused as the end itself).

Using the “Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Induced Climate Change,” developed with support from the EPA, climatologists Paul Knappenberger and Patrick Michaels estimate that the Clean Power Plan will avert a meager 0.018 degree Celsius (C) of warming by the year 2100.

In fact, if the U.S. went far beyond this greenhouse gas regulation and implemented a plan that crippled the economy by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 100 percent, the world would only be 0.137 degree Celsius cooler by 2100. Including 100 percent cuts from the entire industrialized world merely avert warming by 0.278 degree Celsius by the turn of the century.

Congress focuses on the Waters of the United States Rule

This rule seeks to regulate almost every type of water in this country. This could mean anything from certain man-made ditches to “streams” that are dry land almost all year – except after heavy rain. The list of problems with the rule is extensive. For example, the rule:

  • Ignores the primary role states are supposed to play in implementing the Clean Water Act (this is bad for the environment because states are in the best position to address local water concerns)
  • Tramples on property rights by requiring property owners to secure far more permits to engage in even ordinary activities such as farming
  • Undermines the rulemaking process because, as the independent Government Accountability Office ruled, the EPA violated the law through actions it took to garner support for the rule.

To its credit, Congress took action and passed disapproval resolutions under the Congressional Review Act.

While Obama has vetoed all three bills, Congress has made it clear where it stands on these important issues (overrides are unlikely). Regarding the Waters of the United States rule, for example, Obama is the one who is trampling on property rights, ignoring states, hurting the environment, and effectively ignoring alleged illegal actions by the EPA. He’s the one ignoring the attorneys general and state officials from at least 31 states challenging the rule in court, not to mention farmers, home builders, small businesses, and even environmental groups.

Moving forward, Congress should continue to take action to rein in the EPA. Ideally, they would start doing this through the appropriations process. As much as they should be commended for their actions using the Congressional Review Act, they failed to address these rules in the recent omnibus appropriations bill.

There’s no question that it can be frustrating when Congress, who delegated its lawmaking power to the EPA in the first place, finds it very difficult to rein in the agency. The Congressional Review Act is helpful, but this entire experience shows why agencies shouldn’t be able to push such extreme regulations that are not authorized by a reasonable interpretation of statute or inconsistent with the intent of Congress when it enacted the law.

Congress needs to reassert its lawmaking power. This will mean reforming the rulemaking process and making sure that regulations reflect the will of Congress, not the ideological desires of bureaucrats.

GOP Senators Push AG to Investigate EPA

Senator Ben Sasse calls for investigation of the EPA

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two GOP senators opened up a broadside assault against the Environmental Protection Agency last week in the ongoing battle over President Barack Obama’s controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule (WOTUS), a regulation that extends federal authority over smaller waterways.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Ben Sasse of Nebraska pushed the Department of Justice to investigate whether the EPA “knowing and willfully violated” federal law.

The call for oversight comes as Republicans complain of ongoing executive overreach, fearing that without a push, the administration will continue to turn a blind eye on internal misconduct.

The letter follows a December 2015 report from the Government Accountability Office that found that the EPA violated anti-lobbying provisions by spending tax dollars to persuade Congress and the public to support proposed WOTUS regulations.

That conclusion stems from EPA activity during their blitz to crowd source support for the rule. The government agency launched Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube campaigns to counter Republican opposition to WOTUS, the New York Times reports.

In addition, the EPA also employed a social media platform called Thunderclap to solicit comments favorable to the rule.

Later, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy used this solicited support in an attempt to sway Congress back in March of 2015. Before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, she testified:

We have received over one million comments, and 87.1 percent of those comments…are supportive of this rule. Let me repeat: 87.1 percent of those one-plus million are supportive of this rule.

According to the GAO, the activity violated the Anti-Deficiency Act—which prohibits the use of tax dollars without Congressional authorization—and therefore constituted illegal “covert propaganda.”

The Anti-Deficiency Act stipulates that any violating agency must conduct its own internal investigation to identify those responsible—individuals who could be subject to a $5,000 fine and 2 years in prison.

But the EPA insists their activity was all a regular part “of a far reaching effort to educate the American public.”

The senators charge that the EPA hasn’t been sufficiently responsive and are asking that the Department of Justice open their own investigation “to determine if any crime has occurred.”

In a joint statement, Sasse criticized the EPA for thinking “it can stonewall” and Inhofe blasted the agency for thinking “it can break the law and illegally spend taxpayer dollars.” Sasse continued:

Despite the fact that the Government Accountability Office found that they broke federal law by running a covert propaganda campaign to support their sweeping WOTUS rule, the EPA has doubled down on their lawlessness. It’s time for the Department of Justice to investigate.

The letter represents the latest Republican volley in an ongoing battle over the WOTUS rule.

Advocates contend it would ensure clean water for public and environmental health. Opponents criticize the measure for expanding the federal government and threatening private property rights.

Last week, Obama vetoed a proposal passed under the Congressional Review Act that would have scrapped the measure altogether. Republicans also tried, and failed, last December to gut funding for rule during the end of the year spending bill.

The rule still isn’t in effect, however. In October, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the WOTUS rule.

Disclosure: Philip Wegmann’s brother, James Wegmann, is communications director for Sen. Ben Sasse.