Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bernanke: Job Market ‘Far from Normal,’ Slow Growth Expected Through 2012

Posted by BH 9:07 pm 2-29
By Matt Cover
In this Jan. 7, 2012 file Photo, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Budget Committee. Ben Bernanke is likely to face pressure this week over the Federal Reserve's plan to hold interest rates near zero until late 2014. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
( – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the labor market “remains far from normal” and that the economy is expected to grow much slower than the Fed had previously estimated through the presidential election.
“Notwithstanding the better recent data, the job market remains far from normal: The unemployment rate remains elevated, long-term unemployment is still near record levels, and the number of persons working part-time for economic reasons is very high,” Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday.
The central bank chair said that if the job market is to continue its slow pace of improvement, economic growth will have to improve.
“The decline in the unemployment rate over the past year has been somewhat more rapid than might have been expected, given that the economy appears to have been growing during that time frame at or below its longer-term trend; continued improvement in the job market is likely to require stronger growth in final demand and production.”
Bernanke also said that economic growth projections for 2012 will be lower than the Fed had previously estimated – growing somewhere between 2.2 to 2.7 percent. Bernanke said that slow domestic growth and financial problems in Europe are expected, in combination, to hobble economic recovery.
“The members of the Board and the presidents of the Federal Reserve Banks recently projected that economic activity in 2012 will expand at or somewhat above the pace registered in the second half of last year,” he said.
“Specifically, their projections for growth in real GDP this year…have a central tendency of 2.2 to 2.7 percent. These forecasts were considerably lower than the projections they made last June.”
Because of the reduced economic growth projections, Bernanke said that the Fed does not expect significant improvement in the job market.
“With output growth in 2012 projected to remain close to its longer-run trend, participants did not anticipate further substantial declines in the unemployment rate over the course of this year.”

On the same day Bernanke testified, President Obama was hosting a luncheon at the White House for congressional leaders of both parties -- "to discuss ongoing efforts to find common ground on legislative priorities that will create jobs and strengthen America's economy," the White House said.




Posted by BH 8:21 pm 2-21 I am Tired,  Tonight I will Add Them


EXERCISE FOR PEOPLE 75 years old.Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side.

With a 5-lb potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.

Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to10-lb potato bags.

Then try 50-lb potato bags and then eventually try to get to where you can
lift a 100-lb potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I'm at this level.)

After you feel confident at that level, put a couple of potato.s  in each bag.        



Posted by HS 7:51 pm 2-29


I can’t tell you how important 2012 is going to be for the Second Amendment.

In many ways, it will determine the course of our freedoms for many years.

Add to that the battle against the UN Gun Ban (the so-called “Small Arms Trade Treaty”), another “Assault Weapons” ban, a magazine ban and the ongoing efforts to label gun owners like you and me as “terrorists,” and we have our plates full.

With nearly one million members and supporters, the National Association for Gun Rights is on the front lines in the battle against the oncoming anti-gun tidal wave on the federal level.

But I’m afraid it doesn’t stop there. Critical gun rights battles are also going on all over America as state legislatures kick into high gear. The National Association for Gun Rights is actively working to stop state-level gun control and pass strong pro-gun bills like Constitutional Carry.

   For Freedom,

   Rand Paul
   United States Senator


Posted by BH 7:00 Pm 2-29

The White House fairy tale about the Happily Ever After Auto Bailout is missing a crucial, bloody page. While President Obama bragged about “standing by American workers” at a rowdy United Auto Workers meeting Tuesday, he failed to acknowledge how the Chicago-style deal threw tens of thousands of nonunion autoworkers under the bus.
In a campaign pep rally/sermon billed as a “policy speech,” Obama nearly broke his arm patting himself on the back for placing his “bets” (read: our money) on the $85 billion federal auto industry rescue. “Three years later,” he crowed, “that bet is paying off for America.” Big Labor brass cheered Obama’s citation of GM’s “highest profits in its 100-year history” as the room filled with militant UAW chants of “union made.”
“Union made” — but who paid? Scoffing at the criticism that his bailout was a massive union payoff, Obama countered that all workers sacrificed to save the auto industry. “Retirees saw a reduction in the health care benefits they had earned,” Obama told the congregation, er, crowd. “Many of you saw hours reduced,” he sympathized, “or pay and wages scaled back.”
Let’s clear the fumes (again), shall we? The bailout pain was not distributed equally. It was redistributed politically.
Bondholders standing up for their property and contractual rights got shortchanged and demonized personally by the president. Dealers and suppliers faced closures based on political connections and lobbying clout, rather than neutral efficiency evaluations. And as I first reported in September 2010, in the rush to nationalize the auto industry and avoid contested court termination proceedings, the White House auto team schemed with Big Labor bosses to preserve UAW members’ costly pension funds by shafting their nonunion counterparts.
These forgotten nonunion pensioners (who worked for the Delphi/GM auto parts company) lost all of their health and life insurance benefits. Hailing from the economically devastated Rust Belt — northeast Ohio, Michigan and neighboring states — the Delphi workers had devoted decades of their lives as secretaries, technicians, engineers and sales employees. Some have watched up to 70 percent of their pensions vanish. They’ve banded together to seek justice in court and on Capitol Hill under the banner of the Delphi Salaried Retiree Association.
Through two costly years of litigation and investigation, the Delphi workers have exposed how the stacked White House Auto Task Force schemed with union bosses to “cherry pick” (one Obama official’s own words) which financial obligations the new Government Motors company would assume and which they would abandon based on their political expedience. Obama’s own former auto czar Steve Rattner admitted in his recent memoir that “attacking the union’s sacred cow” could “jeopardize” the auto bailout deal.
Ohio Republican Rep. Michael Turner last month called attention to the glaring conflicts of interest that entangled Obama moneyman Tim Geithner’s multiple meddling roles in screwing over the Delphi workers. Geithner served simultaneously as co-chair of the Auto Task Force, board member of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the federal agency overseeing pension payments to bankrupt companies) and Treasury Secretary. The General Accounting Office raised eyebrows at Geithner’s “multiple roles” in the deal-making.
Thanks to a separate Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, we already know that Geithner’s department and General Motors closely coordinated their PR strategy and collaborated on making fraudulent claims about GM repaying all of its government loans. The cash-strapped Delphi retirees are suing the transparency-ducking PBGC in federal court to unearth documents that may yield key details of the improper Obama administration influence over Delphi’s bankruptcy organization.
As ebullient UAW officials hooted and hollered on Tuesday, Obama smugly attacked Republicans for “anti-worker policies” and their “same old you’re-on-your-own philosophy.” The Delphi workers know better: One union’s government-subsidized, government-manipulated “success story” is the rest of the workforce’s nightmare.


Posted by BH 6:44 pm 2-29


Dollar Alternative Anyone?

29 February 2012 47 Comments
By Greg Hunter’s 
Countries around the world have been actively seeking ways to not do business in dollars for the past few years.  The U.S. dollar is the so-called world reserve currency, but the big question is for how long?  China and Japan are beginning to shun the dollar in trade between the two countries.  Mind you, this is the 2nd biggest economy in the world doing business without dollars with the 3rd biggest economy in the world.  Russia and China, also, have an agreement to not use the dollar, and even India recently announced it would trade gold for oil with Iran.  Additionally, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been calling for an alternative to the buck.  The big push is not because the U.S. dollar is held in the highest regard but because it is losing its luster on the world stage.   After all, the debt debacle facing America is worse than what the Greeks are facing according to a new report from U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions.  (Click here to see for yourself.)  Senator Sessions says every man, woman and child in the country is saddled with $44,000 in debt.   
The difference is the U.S. can print money, Greece cannot, and that is the problem for the rest of the world.  Every dollar that is created devalues the other dollars in existence.  America spends 43 cents more than it takes in every year.  There is a current $15 trillion national debt and future commitments that some economists say exceeds $200 trillion.  Last August, Congress raised the debt ceiling $2.1 trillion to $16.4 trillion.  That money is likely to run out before the November 2012 election, and then, Congress will need to raise it again or the U.S. will face default.  My money is on yet another debt ceiling increase.  Is there any wonder why the world wants to move away from the dollar?  The more you have of something, the less it is worth. 
Now, even some U.S. states want to do business in something other than dollars.  Wyoming is the latest to consider what some are calling the “Doomsday bill.”  A local news organization called reported last week, “State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States. . . . The task force would look at the feasibility of  Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. . . . “I don’t think there’s anyone in this room today what would come up here and say that this country is in good shape, that the world is stable and in good shape — because that is clearly not the case,” state Rep. Lorraine Quarberg, R-Thermopolis, said. “To put your head in the sand and think that nothing bad’s going to happen, and that we have no obligation to the citizens of the state of Wyoming to at least have the discussion, is not healthy.”  (Click here for the complete story.)  
Wyoming is just one of more than a dozen states that are exploring or passing legislation to have an alternative to the dollar just in case of some sort of calamity. CNN reported earlier this month, “A growing number of states are seeking shiny new currencies made of silver and gold.  Worried that the Federal Reserve and the U.S. dollar are on the brink of collapse, lawmakers from 13 states, including Minnesota, Tennessee, Iowa, South Carolina and Georgia, are seeking approval from their state governments to either issue their own alternative currency or explore it as an option. Just three years ago, only three states had similar proposals in place.  “In the event of hyperinflation, depression, or other economic calamity related to the breakdown of the Federal Reserve System … the State’s governmental finances and private economy will be thrown into chaos,” said North Carolina Republican Representative Glen Bradley in a currency bill he introduced last year.  Unlike individual communities, which are allowed to create their own currency — as long as it is easily distinguishable from U.S. dollars — the Constitution bans states from printing their own paper money or issuing their own currency. But it allows the states to make “gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”  (Click here for the complete CNN story.) 
Gold and silver coins could be exchanged for their bullion value.  That means, even though a one ounce U.S. Gold Eagle is stamped $50, it would be valued at its weight on the spot market.   As I write this, gold is trading for more than $1,785 per ounce.  Same would go for Silver Eagles and other forms of U.S. minted gold and silver.  They would be exempt from state taxes, but federal taxes would still apply as it stands now.  Some legislation, as in South Carolina, would allow any kind of gold or silver coin to be used.  That would include coins such as Krugerrands from South Africa, Maple Leafs from Canada and many others. 
This is all taking place under a backdrop of a sovereign debt crisis in Europe that could destabilize the U.S. banking system and runaway deficits and spending on wars, bailouts and Obama care.  There is a reason we keep hearing stories about alternatives to the U.S. dollar, and it is signaling bad news ahead for the world’s reserve currency.  The idea of an alternative to the buck is not coming from a few crazy people from the fringe.  It’s coming from world and state governments that fear a currency crisis of epic proportions that is well on its way.


Two Parties No Difference

28 February 2012 29 Comments
By Greg Hunter’s 
The political season is well underway, and the real problems of the country and how to fix them are not being talked about.  Instead, we get lengthy discussions on things like contraception or religion.  The banking system is being propped up by phony accounting and is insolvent if it were audited using the same accounting methods as the IRS.  Neither party is talking about real issues and real solutions for the country.  The only exception is Ron Paul, but he is underplayed and under-reported on at every turn.  This is not an endorsement but a fact.  So, what is the point of the 2012 election?  Is it to make us all think we have a choice?  Does our vote really count?  Judge Andrew Napolitano recently lost his show “Freedom Watch” on FOX Business.  The network brass cancelled the entire primetime line up.  They should have saved his show, but they did not.  It was the only one that attempted to educate the public with a different point of view from the Republicans and Democrats.  Below is one of Napolitano’s last commentaries that comes in the form of multiple questions.  I have never seen this type of technique, but I thought it was very effective in getting his points across.  This video has gotten more than 1 million views on You Tube, and when you watch it, you will understand why.  Enjoy.



Posted by HS 6:22 pm 2-29





The Republic has a CONSTITUTION???
Amendment 28

Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or Representatives that does not apply
Equally to the citizens of the United States .

Imagine what we could do if everybody PASSED THIS round.


Posted by HS 6:17 pm 2-29
It'sReally obvious,
Hands Down, the following wins!!

Think about it, 2012 elections


osted by BH 6:07 pm 2-29

Is it Krypton or Kenya
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Poll after poll in recent months has indicated that Americans have a high level of concern over Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president, with one poll showing fully half of the nation wants Congress to investigate the question.
But reporters for the traditional media – networks, major newspapers, major news corporations and conglomerates – mostly have giggled when talk turns to the serious question of just what the U.S. Constitution requires of presidents.

Nevertheless, media organizations from all political persuasions are seeking admittance to a news conference to be held by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz.
The event is tomorrow at 1 p.m. Mountain Standard Time in Phoenix, 3 p.m. Eastern, and will be live-streamed by WND.
The topic of discussion will be an investigation by Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse into concerns about Obama’s eligibility. It’s the first time an official law enforcement report has addressed many of the allegations about the presumptive 2012 Democratic nominee for president.
The issues include Obama’s eligibility under the U.S. Constitution’s requirements, questions about his use of a Connecticut Social Security number and the image of his purported birth certificate from Hawaii.
Top national media organizations have indicated their plans to attend, and bookings for radio and television reports are in the works. Expected are reporters from the Associated Press, Reuters, Univision, the Washington Times and NBC, CBS and ABC affiliates, as well statewide radio networks, among many others.
Because of the circumstances, a decision was made to hold the press conference at the sheriff’s training center on the outskirts of Phoenix, rather than at the downtown office.
The event is expected to draw protesters who object to the sheriff’s office review of allegations that Obama may attempt to use a fraudulent document to have his name placed on the 2012 presidential election ballot in Arizona.
Without releasing any details, Arpaio has said the findings “could be a shock.”
He constituted a special five-member law enforcement posse last year to investigate allegations brought by members of the Surprise, Ariz., Tea Party that the Obama birth certificate released to the public by the White House on April 27 might be a forgery.
The posse is made up of three former law enforcement officers and two retired attorneys with law enforcement experience. Members have been examining evidence since September concerning Obama’s eligibility to be president under Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution, which requires a president to be a natural-born citizen.
Among other issues, there also have been allegations of Obama’s use of a Social Security number that corresponds to a Connecticut address, even though the president apparently had no links there.
WND earlier reported a private investigation found that the Social Security number being used by Obama does not pass a check with E-Verify, the electronic system the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has created to verify whether or not someone is authorized to work legally in the country.
Arpaio’s investigation is the first official law enforcement look at the allegations surrounding Obama’s eligibility. Many of the private investigators who have examined it contend there are too many questionable circumstances to believe that everything regarding Obama is above-board.
Arpaio previously told WND that when he launched his Cold Case Posse it was with the possibility that he would clear Obama.
He said it wasn’t an issue he could ignore, after 250 members of the tea party organization “came to me and asked their sheriff to investigate Obama and the birth certificate.”
The WND TV live-streaming coverage of the news conference Thursday is possible through the support of the Western Center for Journalism.
The decisions in dozens of court cases over the last few years questioning Obama’s eligibility were typified by a recent decision in Georgia in which several individuals filed challenges to Obama’s name on the 2012 ballot and provided evidence to a hearing officer.
Even though Obama and his lawyer deliberately snubbed the case – the lawyer wrote the judge a letter in advance telling him Obama would not attend – the judge threw out the evidence presented by several attorneys and ruled in favor of Obama.
Similar ballot challenges are being filed in a long list of other states already.
The Arpaio investigators were given the case following a meeting held in the sheriff’s office Aug. 17, 2011, with tea party representatives from Surprise, Ariz., who presented a petition signed by more than 250 Maricopa County residents. The petitioners expressed concern that their voting rights could be irreparably compromised if Obama uses a forged birth certificate to be placed on the 2012 presidential ballot in Arizona or otherwise is found to be ineligible.
The tea party letter formally stated the following charge: “The Surprise Tea Party is concerned that no law enforcement agency or other duly constituted government agency has conducted an investigation into the Obama birth certificate to determine if it is in fact an authentic copy of 1961 birth records on file for Barack Obama at the Hawaii Department of Health in Honolulu, or whether it, or they are forgeries.”
The posse was constituted as a 501(c)3 organization, designed to cost the people of Maricopa County nothing, while enabling people from around the country to contribute to its mission.
Those wishing to send a tax-deductible contribution directly to the Cold Case Posse may do so by mailing a check or money order to: MCSO Cold Case Posse, P.O. Box 74374, Phoenix, AZ 85087.
WND has reported that dozens of experts with varying ranges of competency who have looked at the situation believe the birth documentation image released by Obama last year is not genuine.
A flying-banner and billboard campaign to let people know about the questions regarding eligibility that was started by WND CEO and Editor Joseph Farah also has raised the public’s awareness of the situation.
Farah wrote recently that the underlying question to be determined is whether the U.S. Constitution remains the law of the land, or whether it has become “an archaic old document that needs to be amended.”
“At its core, it’s really quite simple: Does Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution dealing with who can serve as president of the United States simply mean that any citizen age 35 or older is eligible? If so, why did the founders use a different term altogether – ‘natural born citizen’? What is a ‘natural born citizen’? Is it anyone born in the United States? If so, why have candidates born outside the United States been deemed eligible? Do we owe it to America’s future to go back in history to determine what that term actually means?
“Until now, as hard as it may be to believe, no official vetting of Obama’s credentials has been done – not by the 50 secretaries of state who oversee elections, not by the Federal Elections Commission that administers the nation’s elections laws, not by the Electoral College, not by any judge in America, not by Congress, not by anyone,” he continued.
Even before the results become public, Farah said he’s confident there will be a significant impact.
“I strongly believe it could be a game-changer,” he said.


Posted by BH 6:02 pm 2-29

Congressman Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley today sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding answers regarding the slaying of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata more than a year ago.
   This column discussed new revelations in the Zapata murder, and now the two inquisitive Republicans are continuing to dig. They are specifically interested in the case against Manuel Barba, who had been under investigation for months. However, it now appears that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive had the same hands-off policy about Barba that the agency had in relation to several suspects in the Operation Fast and Furious investigation.

UPDATE: CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson is also reporting on this new development here.
   Barba is a Texas resident, and a rifle he allegedly purchased in August 2010 was recovered at the Zapata murder scene along a Mexican highway in February 2011. However, there’s a curiosity about Barba: He was under indictment in relation to a 2006 case while ATF watched him buy guns, which is illegal. Grassley and Issa write:
Records indicate that ATF opened a case against Manuel Barba in June 2010, approximately two months before he took possession on August 20, 2010, of the rifle which was later trafficked to Mexico and also used in the murder of Agent Zapata. Additionally, the documents show that ATF had indications in October 2010 that Barba was obliterating serial numbers on weapons, the possession of which would have been a prosecutable offense. At least as of December 13, 2010, ATF also was aware that Barba was still under indictment for a 2006 state case, and thus had been unlawfully receiving firearms while under indictment. However, a warrant was not issued for Barba’s arrest in this case until February 14, 2011.
   The questions in this new letter to Holder raise further suspicions about how the ATF conducts business, especially under the Obama/Holder Justice Department. Grassley and Issa want answers to a list of questions they submitted by March 9. If history is any indicator, Holder will hold out and not give them the information. Here’s what they want to know:
1.    Did ATF have any contact with Barba, such as a “knock and talk,” between June 7, 2010, when Barba’s case was opened, and August 20, 2010, when he received the weapon that would later be used in the murder of Agent Zapata?
2.    When did ATF agents first contact Barba in connection with this case?
3.    Records indicate Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) interviews were conducted in this case by early October 2010. When were FFLs first contacted by ATF in this case?
4.    What information about Barba or the individuals known to be working with him as straw purchasers was communicated to the FFLs?
5.    What cooperation did any FFLs agree to provide ATF in this investigation?
6.    Did any FFLs ever provide ATF with advance or contemporaneous (within three days) notice of purchases by the individuals suspected to be working with Barba as straw purchasers?
7.    Why was Barba not arrested in October 2010 when ATF obtained audio evidence that Barba was obliterating serial numbers before trafficking weapons to Mexico?
8.    Why was Barba not arrested in December 2010 when ATF knew he had been unlawfully receiving firearms from straw purchasers while under indictment?
9.    How many weapons were purchased between June 7, 2010, and February 14, 2011, by the straw purchasing ring associated with Barba?
10.  How many weapons purchased between June 7, 2010, and February 14, 2011, by the straw purchasing ring associated with Barba were interdicted?
   Fast and Furious was confined to Arizona, so the investigation relating to guns involved in the Zapata murder is at least in theory separate, but remarkably similar in nature. Bottom line: ATF apparently allowed guns to walk, in the hands of someone they knew could not legally receive firearms.
   In a joint press release, Issa and Grassley noted:
One of the major flaws found in the tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious, where gunwalking was known to occur, was the failure to conduct surveillance of individuals known to be trafficking weapons to Mexico, which allowed such firearms to reach the border. Issa and Grassley said that the same irresponsible tactic appears to have been used as the ATF allowed guns to cross the border in Texas.
   Gun owners are growing impatient with Congress on this issue. It is past the time, many believe, that Capitol Hill should be seriously looking at either reforming or abolishing the agency.
   However, that does not solve a greater dilemma: Holding individuals responsible for what now appears to be an agency that got completely out of control, and not just in Arizona.

Continue reading on BREAKING: Issa, Grassley push Holder for answers in Zapata slaying - Seattle gun rights |


Posted by BH 5:53 pm 2-29

NEWSER) – General Motors had a great year last year—making a record profit and reclaiming its crown as the world's biggest automaker—but some lawmakers aren't happy about its plans to reward its workers. The company plans to pay bonuses of at least $182 million to white-collar workers today, on top of $332.5 million in profit-sharing it's paying factory workers, reports AP. The bonuses, of 8% to 14% of base pay, will go to most of the company's 26,000 salaried employees, many of whom make more than $100,000 a year. Some Republicans believe the government should get back the money it spent to save GM before anybody gets a bonus.
"As the company gives out bonuses, the Treasury Department needs to have an exit strategy for getting GM to repay the taxpayers for helping the company survive," says bailout critic Sen. Charles Grassley. The government has recouped more than $22 billion of the $50 billion it spent to rescue GM, but it still owns close to a quarter of the company. Its shares are worth $13.2 billion, and will have to more than double in price for the government to get all its money back. GM argues that the bonuses—which are being offered instead of pay raises—are necessary to prevent rivals from poaching its talent.


Posted by BH 5:03 pm 2-29

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 2:25 PM

The Noose Tightens


Just when you thought the government couldn’t ruin the First Amendment any further: The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it. [More]
Some are dismissing this as an inaccurate representation of the bill, and point to RT being a Russian source with an agenda.

I've dealt with RTAmerica before, and again, and they're certainly more willing to address our issue and give us our say than most of our domestic "Authorized Journalists."

There's one way to settle the controversy: Read the bill for yourself.

If it looks like tyranny, and if it smells like tyranny...

Thanks, servants!  All of you!

I can't tell you how much more secure in liberty I feel, knowing you are further insulated from the likes of us wherever you go!

Goodbye, First Amendment: ‘Trespass Bill’ will make protest illegal

Published: 29 February, 2012, 02:13
Washington: US park police detains a Christian religious activist during a pro-life demonstration in front of the White House in Washington on February 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)
Washington: US park police detains a Christian religious activist during a pro-life demonstration in front of the White House in Washington on February 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)
Just when you thought the government couldn’t ruin the First Amendment any further: The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.
The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, which, on the surface, seems not just harmless and necessary, but somewhat shocking that such a rule isn’t already on the books. The wording in the bill, however, extends to allow the government to go after much more than tourists that transverse the wrought iron White House fence.
Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country.
Under current law, White House trespassers are prosecuted under a local ordinance, a Washington, DC legislation that can bring misdemeanor charges for anyone trying to get close to the president without authorization. Under H.R. 347, a federal law will formally be applied to such instances, but will also allow the government to bring charges to protesters, demonstrators and activists at political events and other outings across America.
The new legislation allows prosecutors to charge anyone who enters a building without permission or with the intent to disrupt a government function with a federal offense if Secret Service is on the scene, but the law stretches to include not just the president’s palatial Pennsylvania Avenue home. Under the law, any building or grounds where the president is visiting — even temporarily — is covered, as is any building or grounds “restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance."
It’s not just the president who would be spared from protesters, either.
Covered under the bill is any person protected by the Secret Service. Although such protection isn’t extended to just everybody, making it a federal offense to even accidently disrupt an event attended by a person with such status essentially crushes whatever currently remains of the right to assemble and peacefully protest.
Hours after the act passed, presidential candidate Rick Santorum was granted Secret Service protection. For the American protester, this indeed means that glitter-bombing the former Pennsylvania senator is officially a very big no-no, but it doesn’t stop with just him. Santorum’s coverage under the Secret Service began on Tuesday, but fellow GOP hopeful Mitt Romney has already been receiving such security. A campaign aide who asked not to be identified confirmed last week to CBS News that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has sought Secret Service protection as well. Even former contender Herman Cain received the armed protection treatment when he was still in the running for the Republican Party nod.
In the text of the act, the law is allowed to be used against anyone who knowingly enters or remains in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so, but those grounds are considered any area where someone — rather it’s President Obama, Senator Santorum or Governor Romney — will be temporarily visiting, whether or not the public is even made aware. Entering such a facility is thus outlawed, as is disrupting the orderly conduct of “official functions,”engaging in disorderly conduct “within such proximity to” the event or acting violent to anyone, anywhere near the premises. Under that verbiage, that means a peaceful protest outside a candidate’s concession speech would be a federal offense, but those occurrences covered asspecial event of national significance don’t just stop there, either. And neither does the list of covered persons that receive protection.
Outside of the current presidential race, the Secret Service is responsible for guarding an array of politicians, even those from outside America. George W Bush is granted protection until ten years after his administration ended, or 2019, and every living president before him is eligible for life-time, federally funded coverage. Visiting heads of state are extended an offer too, and the events sanctioned as those of national significance — a decision that is left up to the US Department of Homeland Security — extends to more than the obvious. While presidential inaugurations and meeting of foreign dignitaries are awarded the title, nearly three dozen events in all have been considered a National Special Security Event (NSSE) since the term was created under President Clinton. Among past events on the DHS-sanctioned NSSE list are Super Bowl XXXVI, the funerals of Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, most State of the Union addresses and the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
With Secret Service protection awarded to visiting dignitaries, this also means, for instance, that the federal government could consider a demonstration against any foreign president on American soil as a violation of federal law, as long as it could be considered disruptive to whatever function is occurring.
When thousands of protesters are expected to descend on Chicago this spring for the 2012 G8 and NATO summits, they will also be approaching the grounds of a National Special Security Event. That means disruptive activity, to whichever court has to consider it, will be a federal offense under the act.
And don’t forget if you intend on fighting such charges, you might not be able to rely on evidence of your own. In the state of Illinois, videotaping the police, under current law, brings criminals charges. Don’t fret. It’s not like the country will really try to enforce it — right?
On the bright side, does this mean that the law could apply to law enforcement officers reprimanded for using excessive force on protesters at political events? Probably. Of course, some fear that the act is being created just to keep those demonstrations from ever occuring, and given the vague language on par with the loose definition of a “terrorist” under the NDAA, if passed this act is expected to do a lot more harm to the First Amendment than good.
United States Representative Justin Amash (MI-03) was one of only three lawmakers to vote against the act when it appeared in the House late Monday. Explaining his take on the act through his official Facebook account on Tuesday, Rep. Amash writes, “The bill expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it's illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect it's illegal.”
“Some government officials may need extraordinary protection to ensure their safety. But criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activity — even if that activity is annoying to those government officials — violates our rights,” adds the representative.
Now that the act has overwhelmingly made it through the House, the next set of hands to sift through its pages could very well be President Barack Obama; the US Senate had already passed the bill back on February 6. Less than two months ago, the president approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, essentially suspending habeas corpus from American citizens. Could the next order out of the Executive Branch be revoking some of the Bill of Rights? Only if you consider the part about being able to assemble a staple of the First Amendment, really. Don’t worry, though. Obama was, after all, a constitutional law professor. When he signed the NDAA on December 31, he accompanied his signature with a signing statement that let Americans know that, just because he authorized the indefinite detention of Americans didn’t mean he thought it was right.
Should President Obama suspend the right to assemble, Americans might expect another apology to accompany it in which the commander-in-chief condemns the very act he authorizes. If you disagree with such a decision, however, don’t take it to the White House. Sixteen-hundred Pennsylvania Avenue and the vicinity is, of course, covered under this act.


Posted by BH 4:56 pm 2-29



Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's 

TuesdayIt's the night of the big primaries in Michigan and Arizona. The news networks are going nuts over Romney squeaking by in Michigan after he outspent Santorum five to one. I guess I am crazy (I know I am) but it seems to me as if the man who spent 20 cents to every Romney dollar and got within three percentage points of Romney is the star.
However, that's not my point right now. I just finished watching C-SPAN. It was fascinating. A very smart GOP Freshman Senator from Wisconsin was grilling Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. The Senator asked a simple question: why are members of the armed forces being required to up their health insurance payments when civilian federal employees who have unions are not?
Secretary Panetta had no answer at all. He just sort of squirmed. But the Freshman Senator from Wisconsin is totally right. This is an outrage: asking the warriors and their families to pay more for health care while the statistical clerks at Commerce get away free? That's disgraceful.
But then came the comic relief: Barack Obama talking to the United Auto Workers convention in DC. Now, understand, I am a union man -- Screen Actors' Guild, American Federation of TV and Radio Artists, Writers Guild. And I like private sector unions a lot. Plus, Mr. Obama's speech was completely fine and sensible except when he was simply making up criticism of the GOP for imaginary stands they never took.
But his voice! His accent! He has completely reprogrammed his Punahou School, Columbia undergrad, Harvard Law School accent to try to make it sound like what he imagines a workingman's accent is. It borrows a pitifully little amount from Dr. King. There's a touch of storefront preacher. He -- of course -- drops his "g's" at the end of "ing." That's how educated people think working people talk.
But it's more than that. He also has a southern cracker imitation tossed in there to appeal to what he imagines are southern men who work in auto plants -- so he sounds like a strange mixture of Joe Hill, Martin Luther King, Jr., and George Corley Wallace of Alabama. It's a whole new accent never seen on earth before created by this master chameleon to disguise his ultra-privileged background.
It's his mouth that's moving, but it's not Barack Obama that's speaking. It's a robot speaking machine in Mr. Obama's brain. He has set the machine to "please the workingman" accent and also "please the African-Americans" at the same time and the result is that weird, sad King/Wallace voice. It's sad actually. For Mr. Obama, there's no there there.


Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's 

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