Big government

FBI’s Foreign Surveillance Program Violated Americans’ Civil Liberties, FISA Court Finds

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ruled that an FBI program intended to target foreign suspects violated Americans’ constitutional right to privacy by collecting the personal information of American citizens along with the foreign targets of the surveillance. According to the ruling, tens of thousands of searches the FBI made of raw intelligence databases from 2017 to 2018 were illegal, the Wall Street Journal first reported. The searches involved personal data including emails and telephone numbers of private citizens. “The court…finds that the FBI’s querying procedures and minimization procedures are not consistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment,” wrote U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in the ruling, which was released Tuesday in partially redacted form. Boasberg said the Trump administration failed to persuade the court that adjusting the program to more efficiently protect American citizens’ privacy would impede the FBI’s ability to counter threats. Federal law limits searches on such databases to to those that are explicitly related to the collection of evidence of a crime or foreign intelligence. In one case revealed in the ruling, an FBI official used a database to search for information on himself, his relatives and other FBI personnel. The Foreign Intelligence Service Act has come under scrutiny in recent years after the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to conduct an investigation into former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI maintains it suspected Page may have been working with Russian officials to interfere with the 2016 presidential election campaign, while President Trump has said the FBI “illegally spied” on his campaign.

…which it did.  But, this is an interesting development.  It’s the classic battle between law enforcement trying to protect us, and the need to make sure that they don’t cross that line where they impede on our civil liberties as Americans.  It’s a very fine line..

‘Death by a thousand cuts’: Government-mandated wage, benefits hurting small businesses

Business owners say the government-mandated minimum wage of $15 an hour is hurting New York City businesses, including popular eateries with years of history like Gabriela’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar. Gabriela’s, which opened 25 years ago according to The New York Post, invited customers to eat and drink for the restaurant’s final weekend before closing at the end of September. Owners Liz and Nat Milner told The New York Post that the minimum wage hike basically killed their business. They’re not the only ones making difficult decisions. The New York City Hospitality Alliance surveyed 324 full-service restaurants at the end of 2018 and found that 75% of respondents will cut hours for employees and 47% will cut jobs in 2019 because of the minimum wage hike that went into effect on Dec. 31, 2018. The wage hike affected employees at corporations like McDonald’s and small businesses alike. “It’s death by a thousand cuts,” the alliance’s executive director Andrew Rigie said. “The minimum wage increases put pressure on small businesses. They are well-intended but unsustainable. There’s only so many times you can increase the price of a burger and a bowl of pasta.” That’s what Gabriela’s experienced. The Milners said they had to lay off cleaners, middle managers, their general manager and extra servers. “I’m not against people making more money,” Nat Milner told The New York Post. “These people have worked for me for 20 years. But taxes, groceries, everything is going up and people have a little less money to spend on guacamole and tequila.” Other small business owners are feeling the pinch, too. Wage hikes have led to less hours and education seminars for Philippe Massoud’s staff at Lebanese restaurants Ilili and Ilili Box, the CEO and executive chef said. “I can’t even train or educate my staff the way I want to anymore,” Massoud told The New York Post. The Post editorial board cited the plight of Gabriela’s owners in an op-ed slamming the $15-an-hour minimum wage hike on Monday night. “Just as predicted, the $15 minimum wage is killing vulnerable city small businesses, with the low-margin restaurant industry one of the hardest-hit as it also faces a separate mandatory wage hike for tipped staffers,” the board wrote. “All this is fine with the union organizers behind the ‘fight for $15’ and the elimination of the tipped-wages system: They don’t care about any job, or any business, that doesn’t play ball with organized labor. Mom-and-pop shops can go to hell,” the board added. “Plainly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature, who are passing the laws the unions want, don’t care much, either.”

Editorial: Trump Is Right to Ditch the California Auto Waiver

The Trump administration is pushing ahead with a plan we endorsed previously. It will revoke California’s ability to set separate greenhouse-gas standards for cars — so that a single policy will apply to the entire country, and so that California can’t use the threat of a bifurcated regulatory regime to influence that policy in a way other states cannot. We are fans of federalism. But Congress, understandably not wanting automakers to have to comply with 50 different sets of regulations, has generally preempted state regulation in this area — with the exception that California, and California alone, may apply for a waiver to create its own emission rules to address “compelling and extraordinary conditions.” Other states may then adopt these rules if they choose. “Compelling and extraordinary conditions” was intended as a reference to smog. And in contrast to Californian smog, there is nothing compelling and extraordinary about Californian climate change. Climate change is happening to the rest of the country (and indeed the world) too, and climate change is what the state’s greenhouse-gas rules — as opposed to policies regulating other emissions — address. Thus the legal basis for the waiver does not apply here. Further, under the Obama administration, California leveraged the car industry’s desire for a single regulatory regime into an agreement with the federal government, under which the nationwide regulations would reflect California’s priorities. As a result, car buyers nationwide had to pay extra for vehicles meeting the state’s preferences. No single state should have such power. The waiver needs to go. And the Trump administration should continue with the other element of its plan too: nixing Obama-era rules that required fuel economy to hit nearly 55 miles per gallon on average by 2025, a far-fetched goal that could force car companies to sell electric vehicles at a loss to bring down the average fuel economy of their overall fleets. Freezing the standards after next year, as the administration plans to do, could reduce the future price of a car by thousands of dollars — and also reduce motor-vehicle fatalities, because one way carmakers increase fuel efficiency is to make cars lighter and more dangerous. It’s important to note that nothing in either policy change stops companies from making more fuel-efficient cars if Americans want to buy them. In fact, several carmakers have already struck a deal with California to follow the state’s higher standards whether or not the waiver continues. The Trump administration questions the legality of the pact, but the agreement will help these companies appeal to customers who are willing to pay for fuel economy, and also reduce the stakes of any future court battle over the waiver. It’s fine for car companies to go above and beyond what’s legally required of them. But the government should not force the industry to meet unreasonable standards, force customers to pay for it, or allow California to set national policy.

Agreed 100%!!  Thanks to the editors at National Review for that spot-on editorial.  Excellent!!   🙂

Arizona Supreme Court rules Christian artists can’t be forced to make same-sex wedding invitations

A pair of Christian artists can’t be forced by the city government of Phoenix to make invitations for same-sex marriages, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday. Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, the owners of Brush & Nib Studio, were accused of violating a local anti-discrimination ordinance. Monday’s 4-3 decision reversed a lower-court ruling that favored the city. “An individual has autonomy over his or her speech and thus may not be forced to speak a message he or she does not wish to say,” the court’s majority decision read. Duka, a calligrapher, and Koski, a painter, were threatened with six months jail time and $2,500 in fines for every day they were in violation of the ordinance. They are now celebrating their judicial victory as “a huge win for religious freedom and freedom of speech.” Duka and Koski told “Fox News @ Night” last year they “serve all people” and decided to challenge the law to defend “the right of artists to create freely.” “Joanna and Breanna work with all people; they just don’t promote all messages,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Jonathan Scruggs, who argued on the pair’s behalf, said in a statement. “They, like all creative professionals, should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment.” Writing for the majority, Justice Andrew Gould concluded that the city of Phoenix “cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance” to force Brush & Nib to “create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.” “Duka and Koski’s beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some,” Gould wrote. “But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone.”

Exactly!!  And well said, your Honor.  We applaud this outstanding decision by the AZ Supreme Court.  Like the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of a Colorado baker for a similar situation, this is a BIG victory for freedom of speech and freedom of religion…some of our most basic values.  Excellent!!   🙂

Greg Gutfeld: Sanders campaign staff wage complaints expose ‘socialist millionaire’ as ‘hypocrite’

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., routinely slams corporate executives and makes calls for wage hikes, a stance that comes across as hypocritical thanks to a new report, according to Greg Gutfeld. The self-described democratic socialist is reportedly taking heat from campaign staffers upset they are being paid “poverty wages” and not the $15 per hour that is a hallmark of the Sanders campaign, Gutfeld claimed Friday on “The Five.” “He is, just by existing, a hypocrite,” he said. “He’s a socialist millionaire with three homes. Wealth is good for him but not for others.” Sanders reportedly has a net worth of about $700,000, but has made more than $1 million annually in recent years. He and his wife Jane own a house in Burlington, Vt., he purchased a $575,000 lakefront property in the Green Mountain State in 2016, and the couple owns a 19th-century townhouse in the District of Columbia. On “The Five,” Gutfeld said it is important that Sanders, “appl[y] the damaging policies that he wants to do to Americans onto his staff.” “But why won’t he?” he asked. “Because he knows when you raise wages… you have to reduce the number of jobs because ‘the pie’ doesn’t grow. “The purpose of the minimum wage is it’s the first rung on the employment ladder. The problem with the left is… they see the first rung as the last rung because they’re not economically competent.” In recent weeks, Sanders has called for a $15 per hour minimum wage on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and at campaign rallies in Rock Hill, S.C. and in Augusta, Ga. Adding to Gutfeld’s remarks, host Juan Williams claimed the wages Sanders staffers are making average out to $13 per hour. The staff is also unionized, Williams said.

Greg is definitely right..  Regardless of your personal politics, or party affiliation, Bernie is clearly a spectacular hypocrite.  But, then again, so are most socialist leaders.  They’ll want to impose their failed economic/political system on everyone, but themselves.  Socialism keeps people in mediocrity, except those at the very top who are millionaires (some even billionaires) with multiple mansions and so on.  And, that’s been true throughout history.  Bernie is just the most glaring, brazen example in American politics.  Kudos to Greg for calling out that self-righteous hypocrite on his bs.  For more, click on the text above.

Steve Forbes: Trump deregulation boosting our economy – Here’s one example

Two big things have been propelling the U.S. economy forward in impressive fashion: the 2017 Trump tax cuts and the president’s relentless drive to reduce unnecessary regulations, which are another form of taxation. One example of the president delivering his deregulation promise came in late May when the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration abandoned a costly regulatory proposal issued by President Barack Obama. The measure would have forced private freight railroad carriers to continue operating with two people in a locomotive cab. This proposed Obama, anti-business mandate was always wrongheaded, and its revocation carries important lessons for how best to regulate. It is also a positive development for the sake of a U.S. economy, whose strength is increasingly connected to the efficient movement of goods. E-commerce will only continue to grow as businesses fiercely compete, and America needs a multimodal transportation system to support this. Despite years of analysis, the federal government did not have data to show that two-person railroad crews – the standard operating model currently for big freight carriers like BNSF or CSX – are any safer than one-person crews used by many smaller freight carriers, like Indiana Railroad, or almost all passenger railroad systems throughout the U.S. The Obama proposal was not a serious attempt at promoting safety. Rather it was featherbedding pure and simple at the behest of unions. Ditching the proposal underscores the fact that regulators should embrace outcomes – such as reducing rail accidents – instead of prescriptions when writing rules. Rather than bow to narrow labor interests, regulators would be better served stating the goals and letting industries figure out the best ways to achieve them. This would encourage innovation and avoid the constant problems of regulators always being behind the curve when it comes to newer and better practices. The Trump Transportation Department deserves immense credit for turning rhetoric into action. A nanny-ish, we-know-best mentality on a decision better left to the private market is simply unneeded as railroads continue to set all-time safety records – a result of private investments averaging $25 billion in recent years. Indeed, as the American Action Forum outlined, “regulators should not impose specific and costly mandates when lacking evidence they will solve a problem. Regulators should also be mindful of the implications today’s regulatory decisions will have on future innovation, particularly when evidence suggests those innovations could improve safety.” Consumers should welcome this news too, as railroads now have a greater incentive to develop technology that will allow them to better compete for freight business. After all, truckers are feverishly working to reduce labor costs by employing autonomous technologies, and drones don’t need pilots to fly them. Instead, with action from the Transportation Department, trucks and railroads, along with the rest of the freight market, can let the market decide what works best. This is deregulation done right. Ironically, excessive government regulation came close to destroying the rail system; deregulation in the early 1980s saved it. Modernizing operations in the future – free from senseless dictates – will be critical for future U.S. economic growth.

Agreed 100!!   Thanks to Steve Forbes for that outstanding op/ed. Steve is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media. His latest book, “Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code, and Reforming the Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity”.  Excellent!!     🙂

Study: Deporting Illegal Aliens Saves Americans Billions in Tax Dollars

Deporting the roughly 11 to 22 million illegal aliens living across the United States saves American taxpayers hundreds of billions in public costs, analysis finds. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is expected to conduct a mass deportation effort next week, where at least 2,000 illegal aliens who have final orders for removal will be arrested, detained, and deported from the U.S. American taxpayers stand ready to benefit significantly from the deportation of thousands of illegal aliens, all of whom have been ordered deported and have refused to leave. The latest analysis from the Center for Immigration Studies Director of Research Steven Camarotta compared and contrasted the cost to American taxpayers of millions of illegal aliens living in the U.S. over a lifetime and the cost of deportation. Based on research from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the cost of illegal aliens to American taxpayers over a lifetime is about $746.3 billion. Compare this to the cost of a single deportation, which is about $10,854 per illegal alien based on Fiscal Year 2016 totals. Overall, deporting every illegal alien in the country would amount to a cost savings of about $622 billion over the course of a lifetime. This indicates that deporting illegal aliens is six times less costly than what it costs American taxpayers to currently subsidize the millions of illegal aliens living in the U.S. “There’s a high cost of cheap labor,” Camarotta told Breitbart News. Last year, President Trump’s administration deported more than 256,000 illegal aliens from the U.S. Assuming that the cost of deportations has been largely unchanged since the Obama administration, this would mean that last year’s deportations, alone, cost about $2.8 billion. Compared to the annual $116 billion that the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates illegal immigration costs taxpayers, deportations conducted last year were more than 40 times less costly. The latest Harvard/Harris Poll finds that a majority of Americans support Trump’s plan to mass deport illegal aliens following inaction from Congress. This includes support from more than 8-in-10 Republican voters and more than 5-in-10 swing voters. As Breitbart News has chronicled, there are about 1.7 million illegal aliens from Central America and Mexico, alone, living in the U.S. despite already being ordered deported or having pending deportation orders. The latest federal data concludes there are more than 925,000 illegal aliens, in total, with final deportation orders who have continued living freely in the U.S. About 20 percent of these illegal aliens have at least one criminal conviction and almost all are not in federal custody. Roughly 60 percent of these illegal aliens come from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

As we’ve been saying from day 1 here at The Daily Buzz..  We much closer to, if not more than, 22 MILLION illegal aliens here in America.  That’s an insane number!!  So, we need to be deporting these illegal aliens by the hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions.  The current roundup of the low-hanging fruit (those who are convicted criminal aliens with final deportation orders from an immigration judge) is the first step.  But, we need to keep that momentum going.  As this article clearly points out, and we’ve been saying for years, the cost of deportation is far less than allowing these illegals to remain.  Kudos to Steven Camarotta for putting this outstanding study together.  Facts matter…even if they’re uncomfortable and inconvenient for the open-boarders crowd of Democrat politicians, and their cheering section in the dominantly liberal mainstream media.