The federal government just can’t stay out of agriculture. From subsidy programs that decide winners and losers in the markets by favoring corporate farms over family farms to ethanol rules that sacrifice food for fuel to laws that give undue influence and power to a select few pesticide and seed producers, Washington has maintained a stranglehold over farming that has forever altered the industry’s competitive landscape and doomed consumers to pay ever-higher prices at the grocery store.

It wants even more power. Now, another assault comes from the Capitol and the unlikeliest of agencies: the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an arm of the Department of Transportation. The DOT/FMCSA has new standards currently in the public comment period that, were they to become law, would override states’ rights — and the rights of the individual farmer — and have a detrimental impact on how business is done.

I taught the Constitution for 10 years. I believe in the Constitution, and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress.”
         — Barack Obama, May 18, 2008, at a campaign stop in Billings, Montana

President Obama began his presidency with great promise, publicly pledging to end many of the Bush administration attacks against the U.S. Constitution. Obama had pledged during his initial election campaign to end signing statements as a back-door method of legislating (usurping the legislative branch’s powers under Article I of the Constitution), warrantless surveillance (violating the Fourth Amendment), detention without habeas corpus (Fifth Amendment) or trial (Sixth Amendment), torture (Eighth Amendment), and excessive executive branch secrecy under the “executive privilege” and “state secrets” claims, and pledged that he would not engage in offensive wars without the approval of Congress (Congress’ power under Article I, Section 8).

In his July 27th column, Clarence Page mentioned The John Birch Society right alongside the Ku Klux Klan. This is a very unjust type of smear. By merely mentioning the KKK with the Society, many readers will conclude that the two organizations are similar. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The New American has published its first “Freedom Index” for the new (112th) Congress. The index, published four times each two-year congressional term, rates all members of the House and Senate based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.

As the symbolic World Trade Center Cross was moved to its permanent display site at New York’s 9/11 Memorial Museum on July 23, an atheist group filed a lawsuit to have the inspirational symbol banned from the museum. Discovered by construction worker Frank Silecchia in the rubble of the Trade Center two days after the attack, “the 17-foot-tall cross became an icon of hope and comfort throughout the recovery effort in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks,” noted a museum press release. Joe Daniels, 9/11 Memorial president, told CNN News that the cross is “an important part of our commitment to bring back the authentic physical reminders that tell the history of 9/11 in a way nothing else could.”

In a service prior to the installation of the massive cross in the museum, Father Brian Jordan, a Franciscan monk who ministered to workers and blessed human remains at the site of the attack, blessed the symbolic relic, noting that after 10 years of shuffling to different sites, “the World Trade Center Cross has finally found its home.” Added Father Jordan, “I am grateful to the leadership of the Memorial Museum for their sensitivity, compassion, and professionalism. I urge all those who believe in the consolation and power of the Cross to visit it in its future home in the Memorial Museum.”

McDonald’s, and more specifically, the Happy Meal, continues to be a point of contention for those behind the nanny state. As a result, the Happy Meal has been targeted for a number of reforms. In San Francisco, for example, Happy Meals are no longer permitted to include toys so that they may be less enticing for young children. Now, a new McDonald’s policy will make Happy Meals healthier by cutting French fries orders in half and including fruit.

And though the changes have not been well-received by customers, McDonald’s plans to continue enforcing the policy.

Under the new policy, McDonald’s will be offering apple slices, half-portions of French fries, and healthier beverages such as one-percent milk and fat-free chocolate milk.

The Blaze contends McDonald's is kowtowing to political pressures:

In an effort to draw national attention to the federal government's intrusion into the everyday lives of its citizens, Oklahoman Kaye Beach has elected to take on the system. She refused to renew her driver’s license in protest of not only forced biometric enrollment — having her information shared with corporations and government agencies — but also the influence of international organizations on U.S. policies and laws. Her actions have initiated a full-fledged legal battle.

According to the Constitutional Alliance, an organization supporting Beach’s case, she was recently cited for driving with an expired license in Norman, Oklahoma, reportedly because she felt that being forced to renew her driver’s license with biometric information was a violation of her constitutional rights.

A "super-Congress" is being proposed by Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. The left-wing Huffington Post summarizes the plan — which they claim is also supported by Republican House Speaker John Boehner — this way:

"Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the 'super committee' — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn't be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who'd have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law."
 

Mitt Romney finished first in an Ohio straw poll last Friday of potential Republican presidential nominees. Romney garnered 25 percent of the votes with Tim Pawlenty coming in a distant second with 16 percent. Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann finished third with 15 percent followed closely by Texas Governor Rick Perry who earned 14 percent of the votes cast. Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), a frequent straw poll victor, came in fifth with 9 percent, with Herman Cain and Rick Santorum tied at 5 percent.

The Ohio straw poll results were more a reflection of how GOP insiders viewed the candidates as opposed to the candidates' organizational strength or popularity, according to Politico:

UPDATE, August 2, 2011: The House passed the bipartisan debt ceiling deal (S. 365) 269 to 161 on August 1. The Senate passed S. 365 by 74 to 26 just after noon today. President Obama has already signed it into law.

 

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