Apologists for the State often excuse its surveillance by claiming that those who’ve done nothing wrong have nothing to hide. This implies that only criminals object to Leviathan’s all-seeing eye.
We’d have to head to Congress for anything more illogical or disgustingly craven. Meanwhile, a mystical and perhaps mythical Chinese philosopher from 2600 years ago deftly skewers this nonsense: “The more laws are enacted and taxes assessed,” Lao Tzu wrote, “the greater the number of lawbreakers and tax evaders.” A government big enough to spy on us is big enough to legislate on just about every subject. Which means we all fracture many laws each day, often unwittingly, whether jaywalking, relaxing with some weed, or bending the IRS’s byzantine rules in our favor.
Criminalizing huge swaths of behavior is one of government’s favorite weapons. Not only does it bring much of life under rulers’ control, it also silences dissent. Authorities can easily muzzle critics by investigating them. Given an endless list of laws and the likelihood of having broken some, which of us wouldn’t quail at the threat of such a fishing expedition?
After months of threatening the execution of Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian government is backing away from putting the Christian pastor to death, and is claiming that news stories of the plan to execute him were “unsubstantiated.”
As reported previously for The New American, Nadarkhani has been imprisoned for his faith since October 2009, and was sentenced to death in 2010 for apostasy from Islam. However, according to a story from the International Business Times, the government is claiming that there was never a plan to execute the man who was once the pastor of a 400-member congregation:
“Youssef Nadar-Khani [sic] has been charged with a crime and is in a prison based on an arrest warrant issued against him,” Gilan Province Judiciary Chief Mohammad-Javad Heshmati said on Wednesday, according to Iran state news agency Press TV.
“There has been no execution order. No conviction at all has been issued yet and it is up to the court to finally decide the verdict after studying his case,” he added.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s June 2011 African safari is now being considered a half-million-dollar taxpayer-funded boondoggle, due to newly-released accounting information gathered by Judicial Watch, a nonpartisan government watchdog. Judicial Watch acquired passenger manifests and expense records from the U.S. Air Force pursuant to an August 19 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Although touted as a working tour intended to spread goodwill in Africa, the trip’s travel amenities and recreational "distractions" have brought political turbulence to the White House.
The objective of the First Lady’s excursion to Africa, the White House stated, was to inspire and interact with young people who have meaningful influence in academics and civic leadership. Trekking through Botswana and parts of South Africa, Michelle and her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, were to promote health and wellness and encourage young people to become active in national affairs.
But Mrs. Obama’s professed "work trip" was not exclusively bound to spreading the goodwill of "democracy" and global unity.
It is no secret that the mainstream media has virtually ignored Congressman Ron Paul in its reporting of the progress of the GOP presidential campaigns — even as Paul’s campaign has steadily gained momentum and already enjoyed several victories. For instance, Paul has been extremely successful in straw polls conducted over the course of the last few months. He won the CPAC presidential straw poll (as he did last year), as well as the Republican Leadership Conference straw poll and the California Republican straw poll. In the Ames, Iowa straw poll, Paul came in a very close second, losing to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann by just 152 votes.
Still, the media has refused to acknowledge that he is in fact a top-tier candidate, discussing instead the first, second and fourth most popular candidates, and overlooking Paul, who has generally sat in third place.
The Texas Congressman addressed this issue, as well as a number of others, at the National Press Club luncheon yesterday in Washington, D.C. "I think people should ask why things are news and others are not," he commented.
To illustrate how the mainstream media is generally not covering his campaign, Paul asked the lunchtime crowd how many of them knew who won the Florida GOP Straw Poll (Herman Cain). A large majority raised their hands. He then asked who won the California Straw Poll (Paul), and only one person knew the answer.
Michael Moore, orotund oracle of the radical left and alleged Catholic, befouled Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. during a speech at the campus on September 30. According to the Blaze.com, the one-time seminarian — or so Moore claims in his book, Here Comes Trouble — not only proved he is an abominable lout but also flatly unbosomed a blasphemy. Moore joked about using filthy language at the oldest Catholic college in the United States, then cracked wise about Jesus Christ, the Blaze reported.
Everything, though, seem to be a big joke to Moore, whose “documentaries” document little but Moore’s left-wing politics and crackpot theories.
F-bomb And Blasphemy
“Sorry I said [the f-word] the first time. I didn’t realize I was in a church,” the propagandist said to the crowd, the Blaze reported. As well, the website revealed:
Republicans in the House of Representatives have advanced a significant bill that would defund a department in the United Nations that is antithetical to liberty: the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The UNFPA has been accused of being far too complacent regarding China’s population-control practices.
Introduced by Representative Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), the legislation to defund the UNFPA passed in the House Foreign Relations Committee on a party-line vote of 23-17. The bill would save $400 million over the next 10 years in funding to the agency.
In 2002, President George W. Bush defunded UNFPA, pointing to the 1985 “Kemp-Kasten amendment” that prohibits federal funding for any agency that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion of involuntary sterilization.” Then Secretary of State Colin Powell declared, “Regardless of the modest size of UNFPA’s budget in China or any benefits its programs provide, UNFPA’s support of, and involvement in, China’s population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion.”
Federal authorities furnished Michigan transportation officials Wednesday with a $196.5 million grant for track and signal upgrades on an Amtrak passenger rail running between Chicago and Detroit. The line, running on Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services, will reportedly yield speeds of up to 110 miles per hour on a route serving nearly 30 million people. Granted to its own beloved enterprise (all of Amtrak’s preferred stock is owned by the federal government), the government’s lavish gift to the train line comes at the expense of American taxpayers.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood claims the grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation will slash travel times between Detroit and Chicago by up to 30 minutes. "This is an important investment that will reduce travel time, improve reliability and on-time performance, and attract more passengers," LaHood applauded. "We are creating jobs in Michigan, building our rails with American-made materials and growing the regional economy."
Predictably, Democratic supporters tout the infrastructure jobs and new business activity that will stem from Amtrak’s latest endowment. Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow hailed the grant’s approval and its economic benefits for their state —
The Supreme Court stands a good chance of ruling on the constitutionality of all or part of ObamaCare in 2012, as The New American reported September 29. Should the court strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, the implications are obvious: Everything that has been implemented under the law thus far would have to be scuttled. But what happens if the court strikes down only the individual mandate? Would it then be compelled to invalidate other, related portions of the law?
The lawsuit being appealed to the Supreme Court was brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. The first judge to rule on the case, U.S. District Judge Roger K. Vinson, began by finding the individual mandate unconstitutional. Then, noting that Congress had not included a severability clause in the law, Vinson declared the whole act invalid. (A severability clause, which states that if one provision of a law is found unconstitutional, the rest still stands, was included in the House of Representatives’ version of the legislation but left out of the Senate’s version — and, as a result, from the final bill — as a political gambit by Democrats, according to Politico.) The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, upheld only Vinson’s finding with regard to the individual mandate. It reversed his decision with regard to severability, arguing that most of the law is not connected to the mandate and that the court could not determine whether Congress would have enacted the law in the absence of the mandate.
Time Magazine is accusing climate change deniers of a vast right-wing conspiracy of deceit that threatens to subvert efforts protecting the Earth from eco-catastrophe. In "Who's Bankrolling the Climate-Change Deniers?" Bryan Walsh bemoans the fact that only a few years ago Republicans such as John McCain and Mitt Romney supported government cap-and-trade programs to restrict industrial emissions of so-called greenhouse gases (GHG) but are now backpedaling. He cites polls showing a growing number of conservatives in the deniers' camp. "That's deeply troubling," Walsh laments, "... despite an overwhelming scientific consensus" confirming imminent calamity.
He highlights two sociologists who blame "climate denialism" on long-term efforts of "conservative groups and corporations to distort global-warming science." Walsh quotes their article in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society, in which the sociologists claim, "Contrarian scientists, fossil-fuel corporations, conservative think tanks and various front groups have assaulted mainstream climate science and scientists for over two decades. The blows have been struck by a well-funded, highly complex and relatively coordinated denial machine."
Missing from Walsh's diatribe is any actual proof of a well-heeled denial machine or the "settled scientific truth" of climate change.
Steve Jobs, a man who played a pivotal role in defining the future of home and business computing, died Wednesday at the age of 56. Part of Jobs' legacy is a world in which many individuals under the age of 25 simply take for granted the innovations that he helped bring to the realm of personal computing. When Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computer in 1976 the very concept of computers having a place in the home of the average American seemed farfetched — at best.
Now, the seeming-omnipresence of Apple-inspired or influenced technologies surround us every day. The fundamental change that Apple has helped to bring was symbolized when the company changed its name to “Apple, Inc.” in early 2007 — the integration of phones, music, television and computing had reached the point where the very concept of computing had changed.