Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Cruising the Web

So why would the FBI be doing this? It's quite creepy.
The FBI is hiring a contractor to grade news stories about the agency as “positive” “neutral” or “negative,” but the agency won’t say why officials need the information or what they plan to do with it.

FBI officials wouldn’t even reveal how they will go about assigning the grades, which were laid out in a recent contract solicitation. The contract tells potential bidders to “use their judgment” in scoring news coverage as part of a new “daily news briefing” service the agency is seeking as part of a contract that could last up to five years.
I thought the FBI was supposed to be catching the bad guys, not worrying about their coverage in the media. Though it sounds like a move that J. Edgar Hoover would be fully behind. And that should tell us something.

And here's another creepy move by the federal bureaucracy.
As the IRS continues to come under well-aimed fire for harassing conservative groups, on Friday it secured a final court order formalizing what amounts to a secret agreement to monitor the pulpits of ill-favored churches. The serious danger, as former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams told Fox News, is that the IRS will start treating “theology as politics,” and regulate it accordingly.

Lovers of liberty should be very concerned.

According to a June 27 IRS letter to the Justice Department, 99 churches merit “high priority examination” for allegedly illegal electioneering activities. The letter was sent in reference to a now-dismissed lawsuit filed by the atheist group known as the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). The suit originally was a rather broad one, demanding not only that the IRS enforce prohibitions against churches’ endorsing candidates specifically, but also that churches should be “required to file” what it described as “detailed annual information” that would force them (if they are like other nonprofits) to “expend substantial time and resources.”

With the end of the suit, those filings presumably will not be required (though a second suit, on just that subject, remains open). But IRS’s monitoring of alleged electioneering activities could still be quite onerous.

Traditionally, churches have been free to do just about anything short of outright candidate endorsements. Conservatives have suggested that not even that prohibition is enforced against traditionally liberal churches in black communities and that FFRF isn’t much concerned with such groups. But at least for conservative-leaning churches, FFRF has a much more restrictive agenda in mind.
For example, if the Catholic Church preaches its faith and that includes messages against abortion or gay marriage, that is considered a political message according the FFRF. And this is the group that the IRS is contracting with to go in to monitor and report on what is said in churches. You can imagine the outrage if the IRS were monitoring liberal churches or sending warning letters when a black church welcomes in a Democratic candidate to speak during services as often happens during elections. The federal government should never be in the position of monitoring what is said in churches. Doesn't the separation of church and state mean anything? The fact that they have gone down this path is extremely disturbing and I can't see how it would hold up if it were ever challenged in court. I hope it will be.

Glenn Reynolds wonders at the fact that the Obama administration doesn't seem disturbed that CIA Director John Brennan either lied about the CIA not spying on Senate computers or just didn't know what was going on in his own agency. The administration seems less disturbed about this than they were about David Petraeus having an extramarital affair.

Obamacare just isn't getting more popular. What a surprise.

Jonathan Turley explains five myths about impeachment.

David Catron reminds us that it was Senator Ben Nelson who insisted that the states were put in charge of setting up health exchanges. It was all part of getting his vote. And now it's at the core of the recent court challenges to Obamacare.