Thursday, May 31, 2012
Tuesday - 5/29/2012, 2:25pm ET
Paul D. Shinkman, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Police drones flying over Virginia would be "great" and "the right thing to do" for the same reasons they are so effective in a battlefield environment, the state's chief executive said Tuesday.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, says he is open to any technology that makes law enforcement more productive. The use of drones, which was recently endorsed by the police chiefs of Fairfax County and D.C., would make better use of valuable police resources.
Increased safety and reduced manpower are among the reasons the U.S. military and intelligence community use drones on the battlefield, which is why it should be considered in Virginia, he says.
"It's great," he said while speaking on WTOP's "Ask the Governor" program. "If you're keeping police officers safe, making it more productive and saving money...it's absolutely the right thing to do."
A proposal to purchase drones hasn't yet reached his desk, he says, but state law enforcement agencies are looking for the the most current ways to fight crime.
That sentiment was echoed last month by David Rohrer, chief of police for Fairfax County, one of the state's most affluent areas.
"Drones will certainly have a purpose and a reason to be in this region in the next, coming years," hetold WTOP. "Just as a standpoint as an alternative for spotting traffic and sending information back to our VDOT Smart Traffic centers, and being able to observe backups."
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, a national security expert, told WTOP in early May that the use of drones is ideal for "a sprawling county" such as Fairfax.
Unmanned aerial aircrafts were first proven in combat environments over Afghanistan and Iraq as a part of the military and CIA presence there. Police forces in Arizona first employed them domestically to help monitor illegal immigration and trade over the U.S.-Mexican border.
McDonnell added Tuesday it will prove important to ensure the state maintains Americans' civil liberties, such as privacy, if it adds drones to its law enforcement arsenal.
The Federal Aviation Administration released a list in April of agencies and organizations currently cleared to use drones, which includes Virginia Tech. Virginia Commonwealth University had been cleared, but its permit has expired.
Drones over U.S. soil has turned some heads in Congress.
"The potential for invasive surveillance of daily activities with drone technology is high," wrote Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., in an April 19 letter to FAA. "We must ensure that as drones take flight in domestic airspace, they don't take off without privacy protections for those along their flight path."
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said in the same letter he "proudly supported" the FAA Modernization and Reform Act that allowed for the domestic use of drones. There are many institutions in his home state that FAA has cleared for drone use, including Texas A&M University, and the police forces in the city of Arlington outside Dallas-Fort Worth and in Montgomery County near Houston.
Learn more about what the governor thinks of tolls on Interstate 95, how long he expects to be governor, and an openly gay prosecutor whose nomination to a Richmond bench was rejected by the Virginia General Assembly, in our live blog:
Here's what he has to say:
10:54 a.m., speaking about prospects as vice president:
I am not being vetted by his campaign.
I have two goals: Elect more governors nationally, because they do a better job than Democratic opponents, and to get Mitt Romney elected.
"I think we need a new president, and that's why I'm supporting Mitt Romney."
"Hope and change" is now "recession and fear." This is a very divisive president.
"I'm absolutely planning to finish my term as governor."
10:53 a.m., speaking about craft breweries selling their own beer:
You see suds, I see jobs. Our wine industry is the fifth largest in America. These small microbusinesses are where the jobs are created anyway.
10:51 a.m., speaking about uranium mining:
If we can do it safely, we should. It will create a lot of jobs. If we can't, we shouldn't.
The General Assembly is going to study if it's safe.
Environmental groups complaining they don't have a seat at the table are "wrong." They don't want us to mine at all.
Dear fellow Patriot,
Gun-grabbers around the globe believe they have it made.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced the Obama Administration will be working hand-in-glove with the UN to pass a new "Small Arms Treaty."
Disguised as an "International Arms Control Treaty" to fight against "terrorism," "insurgency" and "international crime syndicates," the UN Small Arms Treaty is in fact a massive, GLOBAL gun control scheme.
I'm helping lead the fight to defeat this radical treaty in the United States Senate and I want your help.
Please join me by taking a public stand against this outright assault on our national sovereignty by signing the Official Firearms Sovereignty Survey.
Ultimately, the UN Small Arms Treaty is designed to register, ban and CONFISCATE firearms owned by private citizens like YOU.
So far, the gun-grabbers have successfully kept the exact wording of their new scheme under wraps.
But looking at previous versions of the UN Small Arms Treaty, you and I can get a good idea of what's likely in the works.
If passed by the UN and ratified by the U.S. Senate, the UN Small Arms Treaty would almost certainly FORCE the U.S. to:
*** Enact tougher licensing requirements, making law-abiding Americans cut through even more bureaucratic red tape just to own a firearm legally;
*** CONFISCATE and DESTROY ALL "unauthorized" civilian firearms (all firearms owned by the government are excluded, of course);
*** BAN the trade, sale and private ownership of ALL semi-automatic weapons;
*** Create an INTERNATIONAL gun registry, setting the stage for full-scale gun CONFISCATION.I'm sure I don't have to tell you that this is NOT a fight we can afford to lose.
Ever since its founding 65 years ago, the United Nations has been hell-bent on bringing the United States to its knees.
To the petty dictators and one-world socialists who control the UN, the United States of America isn't a "shining city on a hill" -- it's an affront to their grand designs for the globe.
These anti-gun globalists know that so long as Americans remain free to make our own decisions without being bossed around by big government bureaucrats, they'll NEVER be able to seize the worldwide power they crave.
And the UN's apologists also know the most effective way to finally strip you and me of ALL our freedoms would be to DESTROY our gun rights.
That's why I was so glad to hear that the National Association for Gun Rights is leading the fight to stop this assault on our Constitution!
The truth is there's no time to waste.
You and I have to be prepared for this fight to move FAST.
The fact is the last thing the gun-grabbers at the UN and in Washington, D.C. want is for you and me to have time to mobilize gun owners to defeat this radical legislation.
They've made that mistake before, and we've made them pay, defeating EVERY attempt to ram the UN Small Arms Treaty into law since the mid-1990s.
But now time may not be on our side.
In fact, we're likely to only have a few weeks to defeat the treaty when they make their move.
And we definitely don't have a President in the White House who will oppose this treaty.
So our ONE AND ONLY CHANCE to stop the UN Small Arms Treaty is during the ratification process in the U.S. Senate.
As you know, it takes 67 Senate votes to ratify a treaty.
With new pro-gun champions joining me in the Senate, rounding up enough votes to kill this thing should be easy, right?
Unfortunately, that couldn't be further from the truth.
Even with the Republican tidal wave in 2010, there still isn't a pro-gun majority in the Senate to kill ratification of the treaty.
You know just as well as I do how few Senators are truly "pro-gun."
Not only that, but many Senators get "queasy" about killing treaties for fear of "embarrassing" the President -- especially with "international prestige" at stake.
They look at ratifying treaties much like approving the President's Supreme Court nominees.
Remember how many Senators turned their back on us and voted to confirm anti-gun Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor?
A dozen more only voted against Sotomayor after receiving massive grassroots pressure from the folks back home.
So if we're going to defeat the UN Small Arms Treaty gun owners have to turn the heat up on the U.S. Senate now before it's too late!
Do you believe the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Second Amendment are the supreme law of the land?
Do you believe any attempt by the United Nations to subvert or supersede your Constitutional rights must be opposed?
If you said "Yes" to these questions, please sign the survey the National Association for Gun Rights has prepared for you.
Your survey will put you squarely on the record AGAINST the UN Small Arms Treaty.
And along with your signed survey, I hope you'll send a generous contribution of $250, $100, $50 or even just $35 to help finance this battle.
With your generous contribution, the National Association for Gun Rights will continue contacting Second Amendment supporters to turn up the heat on targeted U.S. Senators.
Not only that, but they're preparing a massive program to launch the second this treaty is brought before the Senate.
Direct mail. Phones. Email. Blogs. Guest editorials. Press conferences. Hard-hitting internet, newspaper, radio and even TV ads if funding permits. The whole nine yards.
Of course, a program of this scale is only possible if the National Association for Gun Rights can raise the money.
But that's not easy, and we may not have much time.
In fact, if gun owners are going to defeat the UN Small Arms Treaty pro-gun Americans like you and me have to get involved NOW!
So please put yourself on record AGAINST the UN Small Arms Treaty by signing NAGR's Firearms Sovereignty Survey.
But along with your survey, please agree to make a generous contribution of $250, $100, $50 or even just $35.
And every dollar counts in this fight so even if you can onlychip in $10 or $20, it will make a difference.
Thank you in advance for your time and money devoted to defending our Second Amendment rights.
United States Senator
P.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced the Obama Administration will be working hand in glove with the United Nations to pass a new GLOBAL, "Small Arms Treaty."
If we're going to defeat the UN Small Arms Treaty gun owners have to turn the heat up on the U.S. Senate now before it's too late!
Please return your Firearms Sovereignty Survey and put yourself squarely on the record AGAINST ratification of the UN Small Arms Treaty.
And if you can, please make a generous contribution to the National Association for Gun Rights of $250, $150, $100 or even just $35 right away!
And every dollar counts in this fight so even if you can only chip in $10 or $20, it will make a difference.
As House Republicans ramp up efforts to dismantle Obamacare over the next few weeks, Americans for Tax Reform wanted to highlight some of the more egregious portions of President Obama’s “signature issue.”
The first provision scheduled to be voted on for elimination is the medical device tax. Obamacare imposes a new tax of 2.3% on medical devices, including braces, pacemakers, wheelchairs, and other costly medical devices. While these taxes will be paid by the device manufacturer, you can bet the tax will be passed along as a higher cost of the product, ultimately forcing seniors, parents, and veterans to pay more for these life sustaining devices. To find out more about this tax, click here.
In an effort to draw particular attention to this tax, we encourage you to check out our Facebook page where we’ve created three graphics for you to share with friends and family to help get the word out. An example of the graphic is below. Please consider sharing these images as Congress gets set to vote on repeal of the medical device tax.
Americans for Tax Reform
Americans for Tax Reform
by Logan Albright | May 9, 2012
In a crudely-titled op-ed published on the Daily Beast last week, author Stephen King joined the ranks of the super-rich demanding higher taxes. After taking several cheap shots at Governor Chris Christie’s, R-N.J., weight, King expresses frustration at the governor’s suggestion that rich people concerned about tax revenue should simply write voluntary checks to the IRS.
King argues that the majority of rich people are far from generous with their money, and that voluntary contributions are insufficient to solve the world’s problems. This may or may not be true, but it dodges the point that Christie was trying to make. Of all the billionaires complaining that their tax rates are too low, we have yet to hear of a single one actually contributing voluntary taxes. If they really believe what they are saying, why should this be so?
Regarding his own contributions, King, just like Warren Buffett before him, avoids the question entirely, responding angrily that he gives money to charity. For someone who has made millions from his cunning use of words, King seems oddly unaware that his actions contradict his words. By giving money to charities of his choice rather than straight to the IRS, he’s tacitly acknowledging what conservatives have known all along: the individual is better suited to direct his money than is the collective.
Apparently, even arch-liberals don’t trust the government more than they trust themselves.
The implication of King’s statements and actions—that rich people give too little, but that government is ineffective in allocating tax dollars—suggests a better system. Rather than outright taxation, this system would be one in which the amount given would be mandatory, but the recipient could be chosen by the individual. The left could decline to fund wars while the right could direct their tax dollars away from abortion clinics and medical marijuana facilities. Why then, has such a system not been proposed by the likes of King and Buffett?
Because to them, freedom of choice is a luxury only they should enjoy, whereas those of differing opinions must be told what to do, for their own good of course. King knows best what to do with his own money, but those other rich folks—particularly the Republican ones—cannot be trusted with such responsibility. While the IRS may not be the intellectual equal of the mind that gave us The Tommyknockers, it is more than a match for the rest of that ignorant mass that is the American people.
The richest Americans, while crying loudly from the op-ed pages for higher taxes, do not themselves want to support the Federal Government with their money any more than does the average citizen. If they truly believed in the benevolence and competence of the federal government, they would give to it in the spirit of charity.
Logan Albright is a writer in Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
by Sonny Bunch | May 8, 2012
Jonah Goldberg’s latest book, The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, is a quick and breezy read. A series of essays on the ways in which buzzwords are used to short-circuit debate, Goldberg lets slip the dogs of snark and has a good time doing so, dropping zombie jokes (three in the first ten percent of the book alone, according to my Kindle) and thoughts on Weltanschauung with equal aplomb.
Progressives “hide their ideological agenda within Trojan Horse clichés and smug assertions that they are simply pragmatists, fact finders, and empiricists who are clearheaded slaves to ‘what works,’” Goldberg writes. He adds “saying you’re being empirical, and wielding numbers like so many stage props, doesn’t make you empirical, any more than me wielding a giant hammer and speaking Norwegian makes me Thor.”
Goldberg takes a whack at “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” “violence never solves anything,” “social Darwinism,” and other smugisms hurled by the left. He also takes on a few of the right’s favored tools for shutting down debate, including “slippery slope” arguments.
Of particular interest to me was the section on “social justice,” easily the least-meaningful phrase in the English language. As Goldberg notes, “A cry for social justice is usually little more than an assertion ‘for goodness.’ ‘Progressive’ has become a euphemism for ‘all good things.’” Employed with equal vigor by labor unions, the American Nazi Party, and universities of all stripes, the idiotically empty pairing of words is the close relation of that other phantom ideology: fairness.
We are often told that the rich must pay their “fair share,” even by the wealthy themselves. Stephen King recently wrote, “It’s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. Not fair? It’s un-f***ing-American is what it is.”
What it really is is “Un-f***ing-believable.” As in, not true. As in, the wealthiest already pay much, much more than their “fair share,” certainly if we’re talking about proportions. Stephen King’s a smart guy and a great writer and I love the Dark Tower books to death, but c’mon: He knows better than this. He must: The facts are pretty stark. Here’s the Mercatus Center’s Jason Fichtner on the subject:
For 2009, the most recent data available, to be included in the top 1 percent you had to report Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of just under $344,000. That same year, the top 1 percent paid 37 percent of federal income taxes. The top 10 percent … paid 70 percent, and those in the top half paid almost 98 percent of all federal income taxes. That means the bottom half paid about 2 percent. In fact, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, 47 percent of households pay no federal income taxes.
Some feel that businesses are keeping more than their “fair share” in earnings. Like caricatures straight out of an Ayn Rand novel, a group of elected mediocrities have proposed the creation of a “Reasonable Profit Board”:
According to the bill, a windfall tax of 50 percent would be applied when the sale of oil or gas leads to a profit of between 100 percent and 102 percent of a reasonable profit. The windfall tax would jump to 75 percent when the profit is between 102 and 105 percent of a reasonable profit, and above that, the windfall tax would be 100 percent.”
It simply isn’t “fair” that some businesses make more money than others, you see.
The doctrine of “fairness” undergirds the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurance companies not refuse coverage for those with preexisting conditions, one of the (few) popular provisions of Obamacare. It’s so unfair that those with long-term health problems are denied access to health insurance that government interference is necessary.
As Andrew Sullivan recently put it, “the current dysfunctional and stratospherically inefficient U.S. healthcare system impedes economic freedom. … In my own case, I would definitely gain freedom with the ACA.”
In the pursuit of “fairness” and “freedom” and “liberty,” however, supporters of this provision end up limiting freedom by requiring one party to contract with a second party. Sullivan’s freedom comes at the expense of insurance companies who are forced to offer him insurance. They are then burdened with extra costs, meaning that, really, healthy members of whichever insurance plan he might join are burdened with higher costs.
It is at least slightly Orwellian to describe stripping contract rights from an entire class of private enterprises as a freedom-enhancing endeavor.
(And yes, Hayek found no conflict between “individual freedom” and the state’s “organiz[ing] a comprehensive system of social insurance,” but what he meant by “organize” is unclear. It’s fair to question whether he thought the government should force private businesses to sell their products to individuals—or require private individuals to purchase a product, for that matter.)
Fairness is the ultimate conversation stopper: No one opposes fairness, per se, we just have different conceptions of it. Given that the world is an inherently unfair place, perhaps it’s time we stop using “that’s not fair” as a gag to silence our ideological opposites. The tyranny of fairness—or, really, “fairness”—must be overthrown.