Hillary Demands Censorship Of Her Critics

Hillary Clinton, taking a lead from socialist Bernie Sanders, has declared that if elected president, she will not appoint a nominee to the Supreme Court unless that person promises to overturn a Supreme Court case that allowed criticism of one Hillary Clinton.

The Citizens United case has become the bene noir of liberal politics. The case was about a citizens group that planned to release a movie during the height of the 2008 presidential campaign about Mrs. Clinton. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) said they could not. The Supreme Court, by the narrowest of margins, said they could.

At issue was the ill-convinced McCain-Feingold law that made it a felony offense punishable by up to five years in prison to broadcast the movie or pay for advertising promoting sales of the movie during the 2008 election cycle solely because of its political content. During the oral arguments before the Supreme Court, Justice Alito asked a simple question:  Could the government ban books if the content of the book was designed to promote a candidate? The Deputy Solicitor General replied: ‘Yes.’

In what should have been a unanimous decision, the court overturned the government’s effort to censor the movie, with the liberal wing of the court standing with the government in favor of restrictions on freedom of speech. Since then, the decision has been attacked uniformly by liberal partisans who have even gone so far as to submit a Constitutional Amendment to change the First Amendment for the first time in American history.

Now, Hillary has entered the fray. She has declared that any person she suggests for the Supreme Court will have to pass the Citizens United litmus test. In short, that nominee will pledge to allow the government to bar criticism of the President of the United States. Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Conservatives Demand Action To Protect Privacy

A number of national conservative groups have written a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary committees demanding quick passage of the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad Act (LEADS Act), a bill that would reverse the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) attempt to grab jurisdiction of most every piece of data stored on cloud computing systems all over the world. 

The legislation was prompted when Eric Holder’s Justice Department demanded Microsoft turn over electronic communications of an Irish citizen that were housed on a cloud server of an Irish subsidiary of the company. Lawyers note that if the materials in question were written forms of communication, as opposed to electronic, the US government would be required by treaty to get the Irish government’s sign-off before they could get access to the material. Instead, DOJ sought to bypass Dublin and demanded Microsoft turn over the material without the Irish government’s approval.

Signed by representatives from Americans for Tax Reform, Digital Liberty, Citizens Against Government Waste, Let Freedom Ring, and other organizations, the letter states: “Until now, the U.S. Government has relied on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to reach data of foreign citizens stored abroad so long as the company storing the data had a presence on U.S. soil. This practice creates distrust of American businesses and encourages foreign citizens, companies and countries to stop doing business with U.S. companies operating overseas. Eventually, this will harm U.S. companies and threaten America’s leadership in cloud computing technology.”

The letter is a reminder that “the U.S. Government can obtain emails wherever stored simply by serving a warrant on a provider subject to U.S. process; nothing stops other countries – including China and Russia – from seeking to obtain emails of Americans stored on servers in the United States. The LEADS Act addresses these problems by amending ECPA to clarify that law enforcement may use a warrant to obtain electronically stored communications overseas if the account- holder is a U.S. person. This extends the traditional reach of a warrant beyond U.S. borders, but is appropriately responsive to the global nature of electronic data storage in the 21st Century. The legislation provides that the U.S. law enforcement cannot require disclosure of data stored abroad if the data is not associated with a U.S. person or if accessing that data would violate the laws of the country where it is stored. Instead, the U.S. must work with the host country to obtain the data.”

The LEADS Act, introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Tom Morino, R-Pa., is supported by a host of tech companies like Microsoft and IBM as well as groups like the Business Software Alliance.

Two lower courts have sided with the government, and the Supreme Court has been asked to take up the case. Should they refuse, and legislation is not enacted, the DOJ would assume jurisdiction of most of the Internet, marking another blow against privacy. 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

The Price Of Speaking Truth To Power: $80 Million

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Leftists love using the phrase “speaking truth to power.” But when Standard and Poor’s, the respected credit ratings service, told the truth about the federal government’s out-of-control spending, power came crashing down on its head.

In August 2011, S&P lowered America’s credit rating below AAA because it found that the government’s ability to manage its finances had become “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” This set off a firestorm within the White House. The Treasury Department publicly attacked the report, and then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called the CEO of the company and threatened them. According to reports of the conversation, Geithner promised that the company would be “looked at very carefully” and would “be held accountable for that.” Harold McGraw III, the CEO of S&P’s parent company, said in a sworn deposition that Geithner said: “Such behavior could not occur without a response from the government.” The response came; and it was swift, harsh, and costly.

The Obama Administration unleashed Attorney General Eric Holder on the company. In August 2013, the Department of Justice sued the company for fraud in their ratings of mortgage-backed securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008. According to the DOJ’s theory, S&P ratings of the securities were tied to relationships they had with the investment firms. The government was threating the company with $5 billion worth of fines. There was no mention of the fact that other credit rating services also rated the same securities as safe. The New York Times noted that “S&P, one of three major agencies offering advice to investors about the quality of debt investments and the only one to face a Justice Department lawsuit, stood out as the rare company to actually follow through and fight the government.” It is clear that the actions of the DOJ were in response to the company’s decision to warn Americans about the coming debt crisis.

S&P decided to fight back by making motions in court demanding documents, emails, and other information connecting the White House, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Justice, in an effort to connect the dots between the credit downgrade and the actions of the DOJ. Not surprisingly, DOJ opposed those motions in court, castigating the effort as a “fishing expedition.” Turning the screws, the DOJ, again in the words of the New York Times, “invoked an obscure federal law passed a quarter-century ago after the savings and loan scandals. The law, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, or Firrea, requires a lower burden of proof than criminal charges and empowers prosecutors to demand unusually large penalties: up to $1.1 million per violation.”

Faced with the threat to the future stability of the company, S&P was forced to settle to get the Obama Administration off their backs. This week, we discovered that the cost of speaking “truth to power” is about $80 million — the amount of money S&P will be forced to fork over to the government for speaking the truth about the country’s financial mess.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Obama’s HHS Ignores Fraud In Discount Drug Program

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Politicians love to promise to weed out waste, fraud and abuse from federal spending but even when it is staring them in the face they often do nothing.  That’s exactly what the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did when confronted with the reality that a congressionally established program to help the poor and indigent get discounted prescription drugs was being abused by corporations to pad their bottom line.

In 1992, Congress established the 340B Drug Discount Program (340B) to help underserved communities get access to prescription medicines. Designed to reduce outpatient drug costs by mandating deep discounts from drug manufacturers as a condition of Medicaid reimbursement. The program remained small until it was radically expanded under provisions enacted by ObamaCare drawing the attention of Wall Street financiers and lobbyists for the contract pharmacies who realized little safeguards existed. They soon realized they could receive drugs at a discounted rate and charge the government and private insurance companies for the full freight, pocketing the difference between the discount and the actual cost of the drug.

Faced the the endless possibilities of profits from the government created goldmine, the 340B program has expanded rapidly with hospitals and chain drug stores like CVS getting into the act.  Duke University made almost $50 million off of the program  when its hospital purchased $65.8 million in drugs through the discount program, which saved $48.3 million. It sold the drugs to patients for $135.5 million, for a profit of $69.7 million.  Some of New York City’s top nonprofit hospitals have gotten on the gravy train.  The wealthiest hospital in the City, New York Presbyterian gave 1 percent of its nearly $4 billion in revenue to discounted services to the poor.

Talyst, that is a consultant to hospitals and contract pharmacies that paid lobbyists to expand the 340b program is now openly bragging to its clients about the profitable possibilities for their clients thanks to the program.  In a recent white paper, the firm stated “There is no requirement to pass the savings on to patients directly. (http://www.talyst.com/wp-content/uploads/Talyst_White_Paper_Benefit_Becoming_Contract_Pharmacy.pdf).  The “Talyst AutoSplit Contract Pharmacy solution” allows the “negotiated dispense fee from the hospital will be in addition to your normal profit margin.”  Translation:  You pocket the discount.

This is fraud, pure and simple, yet when confronted with the evidence, HHS decided to do nothing.  Last week, HHS withdrew a proposed regulation to create sweeping rules that would have damaged the cottage industry bilking taxpayers, insurers and patients of hundreds of millions of dollars.  Instead, the agency intends to offer “guidance” to the stakeholders.

Congress must get involved and reform the program, but it won’t be easy.  The beneficiaries have formed their own lobbying group known as the 340 Coalition not only to fight any reforms of the program but to seek further expansion.  Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) are among those who have been leaning on the Obama administration to fix the program.  With a Senate majority, they should move quickly to end the abuse.

Photo Credit: Delores (Flickr)

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

See Who Is Actually The Most Powerful Person In DC. (Hint: It’s Not Obama, Pelosi, Or Reid)

The most powerful man in Washington today is not President Obama.  Nor is it Sen. Harry Reid. It is a California billionaire named Tom Steyer, whose promise to spend $50 million and raise another $50 million to help the Democrats maintain control of the U.S. Senate has given him veto power over one of the most critical projects in America — the Keystone Pipeline.

As America struggles to get back on its feet economically, the Keystone Pipeline is an opportunity to put tens of thousands of blue-collar workers back on the job.  Many unions who have held hands with the environmentalists (for hopes of unionizing green energy jobs that never materialized) are pleading to the White House to allow the project to move forward, but to no avail.  Mr. Steyer has what these workers do not — a billion dollars in his checkbook and the willingness to spend it on politics.

With a critical deadline looming for the president to approve the project, Mr. Steyer’s political advisor Chris Lehane issued a threat.  If the president approves the pipeline, Mr. Steyer will not be writing any checks.  It was extortion, pure and simple — and it worked. The project was delayed again a few days later, and Rolling Stone reports that the president will drive the final nail in the Keystone coffin shortly after the November elections.

Senator Everett McKinley once quipped, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”  That’s why Steyer is not working alone in the effort to write big checks for the Democrats.  He is part of the Democracy Alliance, a shadowy organization founded with the help of George Soros, that gathers millionaires and billionaires together to pool their resources to push the country left.

The Democracy Alliance just met in Chicago with a key speech coming from New York Mayor Bill de Blazio. Comically, the theme of his speech was “income inequality.”  It hasn’t seemed to dawn on the group of the uber-rich that the policies they are promoting are causing income inequality.

Opposing Keystone will kill tens of thousands of blue collar jobs.

Pushing Ethanol drives up the price of food for families.

Killing the coal industry and preventing fracking will put tens of thousands on the unemployment lines.

Taxing carbon will destroy the economy, turning the country into an economic basket case.

Those are just some of the issues at stake this November.  Should Steyer and his ilk buy enough Senate races to keep Harry Reid in power, the uber liberal rich will still have their money; but blue collar Americans will suffer to an even greater extent.  There is income inequality in this country; but when you can afford to write $50 million checks to politicians, you might be able to talk about it. Still, you can’t admit you are causing it.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom