More Government Spying Uncovered
The massive invasion of Americans' privacy by the federal government isn't the exclusive turf of the National Security Agency (NSA). Information released in response to a Freedom of Information Act filing indicates that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been conducting warrant-less surveillance of the financial transactions of five million consumers.
CFPB Director Richard Cordray defended what he insisted was “mere data mining of an anonymous nature. There is no intent at this time to single out any individual. We're only gathering statistics to help us craft the appropriate regulations to control how credit is used in our economy.”
“The accumulation of excessive debt for unnecessary consumption is a growing problem,” Cordray said. “It is the Bureau's responsibility to devise rules that will act to prevent consumers from taking on such debt. Every dollar we can divert from the frivolous accumulation of unneeded stuff can be conserved for deployment toward more essential uses.”
One of the “more essential uses” cited by Cordray will be “the payment for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Most consumers are unaware of the additional amount they will have to pay for health care insurance starting in January of 2014. By secretly observing the wasteful and imprudent abuses of credit exhibited by consumers we can better construct regulations to avert this behavior and ensure a more uniform compliance.”
A report published in the Journal of Economic Growth cast doubt on the benefits of government regulations. The report's authors, John Dawson and John Seater say that over the last 60 years excessive regulation has significantly reduced Americans' standard of living. They estimate that had regulations stayed at the level they were in 1949, average household income would now be $330,000 per year instead of the $53,000 it is currently.
Cordray was unimpressed by these findings. “If household income were six times as high that would just mean six times as much would be spent on selfish, materialistic impulses,” Cordray argued. “I don't find it hard to believe that the benefits of the regulations added since 1949 are easily worth more than a quarter of a million dollars a year to each family in America.”
Anti-Jihad Bloggers Barred from Britain
Anti-jihad bloggers Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs and Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch will not be allowed to attend a demonstration protesting against the Islamic murderers of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, England.
Home Secretary Theresa May explained that “excluding persons whose presence is not conducive to the public good is my responsibility. Allowing these people into the country would most likely further enrage those who back Rigby's killers. We are snuffing this possibility before it can become reality.”
Geller called the ban “a blow against freedom. The nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead.” Spencer avowed that “the ban permits Islamic intolerance to triumph over free speech.”
The Secretary asserted “the issue of public safety must take priority over anyone's professed right to free speech. Besides, we're not saying that Geller and Spencer can't speak their minds. They just aren't going to be permitted to do so on our soil if in our judgment it could spark more Muslim violence.”
IRS Chief Claims Stats Prove It Did Nothing Wrong
IRS chief Daniel Werfel told the House Ways and Means Committee that “the claim the Agency unfairly focused extra scrutiny exclusively on conservative groups is false. Examination of the data show that both conservative and progressive groups were subjected to closer observation.”
The statistics Werfel cited did, indeed, show that both sides of the political spectrum did experience added IRS oversight. In the two-year period ending May 2012 there were 292 conservative groups that had to endure extra IRS hassles impeding their certification as tax-exempt entities. During this same time frame six progressive groups had a similar experience.
The skewing of scrutiny toward conservative groups in such disproportionate numbers did not strike Werfel as out of line. “The behavior of these groups with 'TEA Party' and 'Patriot' in their names was highly suspicious,” Werfel maintained. “One is saying they are taxed enough already—a sentiment that we deemed arrogant and self-centered. The other implied that anyone not a member might be unpatriotic—a position diametrically opposed to the President's view on these matters. These were 'red flags' calling for more attention.”
President Says No Plan to Force Churches to Perform Gay Marriages
While hailing the Supreme Court's decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act as “one of the greatest and most eloquent Court decisions for all time,” President Obama tried to reassure those whose religious beliefs condemn the legitimacy of same-sex marriage that “there are no current plans to force all churches to perform weddings between persons of the same sex.”
How reassuring these reassurances are, though, is uncertain. The President has ordered military chaplains of all denominations to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies if requested to do so by military personnel. “These chaplains are first and foremost soldiers,” Obama declared. “As their Commander-in-Chief I am within my prerogatives to order them to perform such services as I deem most advantageous to preserving order and discipline among our armed forces. Those unwilling to follow orders must resign their commissions and be replaced by those who will.”
Businesses that provide wedding related services—florists, caterers, musicians, and the like—will be liable for civil damages for refusing to accept same-sex customers. “Freedom of religion is one thing, commerce is another,” Attorney General Eric Holder explained. “Those engaging in commerce are not permitted to discriminate. The privilege of doing business requires that you cater to all who seek your services. We will rigorously prosecute any and all businesses who try to insert their own religious bigotry into the equation.”
Dem Says Criticism of Welfare Inhumane
Representative Gwen Moore (D-Wisc) says she is “tired of people complaining about the cost of welfare benefits. The notion that benefits ought to be temporary or should encourage recipients to find gainful employment is inhumane.”
“Some of us just aren't suited for employment,” Moore argued. “We may lack marketable skills or the motivation to drag ourselves to a job on a daily basis. Why should we be pressured into something we don't want to do? That's slavery.”
Moore made the case for more remunerative welfare as “just compensation to those bearing a disproportionate share of the burden of reproduction. Why shouldn't the women who are rearing the largest cohort of the next generation be compensated for their sacrifice? What other conceivable job could be more important?”
Pelosi Ridicules Priests for Life
Offended that the inconsistency between her professed Catholic faith and her political support for women's unrestricted access to abortions at any time for any reason was publicly pointed out by Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) ridiculed his objections.
“He may call himself a 'Father,' but can he verify that he has sired even a single child?” Pelosi asked. “As a mother of five I think I have better adhered to the Bible's admonition to be fruitful and multiply than he has. So, if we're keeping score it looks like I'm ahead on points.”
Pelosi suggested that Pavone's characterization of abortion as “tearing a baby apart limb-by-limb” is “hysterical exaggeration. In only a tiny minority of abortions is the fetus well enough formed for this to be an accurate depiction of the procedure. If all abortions could be carried out at the earliest possible date these kinds of gruesome dismemberments could be virtually eliminated.”
Whether the Church should oppose abortion was also challenged by the Congresswoman. “Father Pavone and the Pope may see abortion as wrong, but where's the evidence that Jesus would've condemned it?” Pelosi wondered. “Jesus was a great friend to women and women's rights. If He were here today I don't think there's any question He would've come down on the side of her right to choose. Jesus was opposed to letting children suffer. If abortion prevents a child from suffering I believe He would say it's okay.”
Rock Icon's Gibe May Net Him Trouble
Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger's aside to a crowd at a concert in Washington DC's Verizon Center raised hackles at the US State Department. In a pause between songs, Jagger told the audience he supposed that while President Obama was not among them, he was probably “listening in”
“We would like to remind Mr. Jagger that as a foreigner his presence in the United States is by permission of our office,” said Undersecretary for Visas, Boyd Bland. “This kind of overtly expressed disrespect for the President could very well punch Jagger and his band a one-way ticket back to the UK.”
Bland refused to commit to a definite statement on whether Jagger would be deported, saying only that “such a decision has been bucked up to the Secretary's office.”
It seems doubtful that Secretary John Kerry will get to this issue any time soon. He is currently deeply involved with efforts to provide weapons to the al Quaeda rebels fighting to topple the Assad regime in Syria.