Mike Rogers

Sorry, Washington Republicans, but it’s absolutely acceptable to criticize candidates who want grow the federal government

Voters are often told that conservatives should not challenge Washington-backed big government Republicans, because doing so could lead to Republican defeat. Yet it often seems that Washington Republicans don’t follow their own advice. It prompts the question, when does the Washington class really view it as appropriate to criticize Republican candidates?

Mississippi is one example. Washington Republicans asked Democratic voters to support their candidate, Sen. Thad Cochran, in his primary election. This was a violation of Mississippi law, so conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel is challenging the result.

This prompted Ann Coulter to write that Chris McDaniel was a “sore loser” whose supporters “don’t care that they’re gambling with a Republican majority in the Senate.”

This is not the first time Ann Coulter has complained about conservatives from the South or other locations around Middle America. Last October, she complained that conservatives in Minnesota had not done enough to help Sen. Norm Coleman win re-election against Sen. Al Franken, writing, “The inability to distinguish Coleman and McConnell… from Obamacare-ratifying Democrats is…insane.”

NSA knew about and used Heartbleed web exploit

The tech web has been abuzz this week about what has been dubbed “Heartbleed,” a code exploit in the OpenSSL encryption system, which could have allowed hackers and cyberterrorists to access login credentials from some of the biggest websites in the world over the last two years. Lists were quickly constructed to explain to users which sites were affected and which passwords they needed to change immediately.

It turns out the NSA has known about the Heartbleed vulnerability for years, but never warned anyone that millions of Americans’ online identities could be at risk. Indeed, not only did they not sound the alarm, the  NSA used the bug to access those online accounts in its already questionable surveillance activities.

Hey, maybe the NSA has disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) has come up with a creative solution to the Internal Revenue Service’s convenient inability to turnover two years worth of disgraced official Lois Lerner’s emails: get the National Security Agency involved.

Stockman sent a letter to new NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers on Friday asking that the NSA “produce all metadata it has collected on all of Ms. Lerner’s email accounts for the period between January 2009 and April 2011.”

“I have asked NSA Director Rogers to send me all metadata his agency has collected on Lois Lerner’s email accounts for the period which the House sought records,” Stockman said in a press release. “The metadata will establish who Lerner contacted and when, which helps investigators determine the extent of illegal activity by the IRS.”

Stockman’s strategy here is similar to that of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The libertarian public interest think tank recently filed a lawsuit against the over the latter’s failure to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests related to the Environmental Protection Agency.

CEI sought metadata collected by the NSA that would “shed light on ongoing controversies over widespread use by senior officials of non-official email accounts for work-related correspondence.” The EPA claimed that texts had been deleted in an attempt to get around federal recordkeeping laws.

Today in Liberty: Obama’s lackluster response to VA scandal, House to vote on a severely weakened USA Freedom Act

“The government was set to protect man from criminals — and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government.” — Ayn Rand

— VA scandal isn’t going away: President Barack Obama finally spoke about the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, but didn’t do much other than continue to express outrage on the reports of the fraudulent wait times and mismanagement at VA hospitals. He’s standing behind VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, at least for now, as Democrats join Republicans calling for his dismissal. Unlike the IRS scandal and Benghazi, the problems at the VA and the deaths of 40 veterans aren’t something that the White House can blame on partisanship and try to sweep under the rug. The outrage is bipartisan, and only growing louder. And perhaps the most concerning thing about the sordid mess is that President Obama and the White House treats it as though it’s an unproven allegation.

Send conservative reinforcements! Interview with Tom McMillin, Justin Amash-endorsed candidate in Michigan’s 8th

Tom McMillin

The next battle in the war for the heart and soul of the Republican Party has quietly shifted to Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District (MI-08), between former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and state Rep. Tom McMillin.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) recently announced that he wouldn’t run for reelection, deciding to start a new career in talk radio after 14 years in Washington, DC. Though he won’t be on the ballot, Rogers is openly backing Bishop while Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) is supporting McMillin, making the race a proxy war between the Republican establishment and the grassroots.

McMillin launched his campaign earlier this month, telling a crowd of nearly 100 supporters that Washington is the problem. “I’m going to the belly of the beast,” he said, “and I’m going to go there to push things back and bring some common sense.”

The Republican primary is on Tuesday, August 5.

United Liberty talked with Tom McMillin on Friday about the race and touched on several of the issues on which he’s running. The conservative grassroots candidate explained that there are clear distinctions between the two candidates, as there have been clear distinctions between Congressmen Justin Amash and Mike Rogers.

McMillin drew distinctions on important differences, including Bishop’s support for tax increases and crony capitalism, sharply contrasting McMillin’s record of opposition to big government and big business.

Today in Liberty: Tea Party picks up a Senate seat, Obama’s war on coal to hit consumers

“President Obama won the youth vote 3 to 1, but I don’t think he’s got a permanent hold on the youth vote. I think if we bring to them that message, that ‘You know what? What you do on your cell phone is none of the government’s damn business.’” — Rand Paul

— Ben Sasse, Tea Party win in Nebraska: Ben Sasse took 49.4 percent of the vote in the Nebraska Republican Senate primary, easily defeating Sid Dinsdale and Shane Obsorn. Sasse was backed by big-name conservative and Tea Party groups, while Osborn had the quiet backing of the Republican establishment. “Congratulations to Ben Sasse on his victory tonight in Nebraska. Ben is a problem solver who will be a conservative voice in our effort to repeal ObamaCare and bring much needed fiscal sanity to the Senate,” said NRSC Chairman Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS). “Ben Sasse is a results-oriented leader whom I know will fight for Nebraska and be a great advocate for the Cornhusker State in the Senate. I look forward to working alongside of Ben in the Senate next year in a Republican majority.” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola hailed Sasse as a champion of economic liberty, noting that he “won a hard-fought primary by building his campaign on the simple idea that ObamaCare is a disaster that needs to be repealed,” adding that “Ben clearly articulated a conservative vision to Nebraska voters who rewarded him with their votes.”

Today in Liberty: Boehner’s future still up in the air, libertarianism rises

“My thing is personal freedoms, freedoms for the individual to love whom they want, do with what they want. In fact, I want the government out of almost everything.”Rob Lowe

— Boaz on the “libertarian surge”: At Politico Magazine, David Boaz, executive vice president at the Cato Institute, explains why libertarianism is growing in popularity. “Lots of libertarians were involved in the tea party and the opposition to the bailouts, the car company takeovers, the 2009 stimulus bill and the quasi-nationalization of health care. But libertarians were also involved in the movement for gay marriage,” Boaz writes. “Indeed, John Podesta, a top adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and founder of the Center for American Progress, noted in 2011 that you probably had to have been a libertarian to have supported gay marriage 15 years earlier. Or take marijuana legalization, which is just now becoming a majority position: Libertarians have been leaders in the opposition to the drug war for many years.” He points out that libertarians “have played a key role in the defense of the right to keep and bear arms over the years.” He also notes that Ron Paul and, more recently, his son, Rand Paul, have sparked interest in the libertarian philosophy.

Coalition urges Congress to pass meaningful NSA reform

A coalition compromised of nearly 40 groups expressed support for ending the federal government’s bulk data collection program in a letter to President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and congressional leaders from both parties.

But the groups urged the administration and congressional leaders to go further than the limited duel proposals circulated last week by the White House and House Intelligence Committee by getting behind the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361).

“We the undersigned are writing to express support for ending the government’s bulk collection of data about individuals,” the coalition letter states. “We strongly urge swift markup and passage of the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R.3361), which would enact appropriate surveillance reforms without sacrificing national security.”

“This letter focuses on bulk collection,” the groups continue, “but overbroad NSA surveillance raises many more privacy and security issues that Congress and the Administration should address.”

The letter focuses on specific areas of reform. The coalition explains that bulk collection should be prohibited for all types of data, not just phone records. The White House proposal is limited to phone records, leaving loopholes for the federal government to collect other types of records and data.

“Legislation that focuses only on phone records,” the letter says, “may still allow for the bulk collection of, for example, Internet metadata, location information, financial records, library records, and numerous other records that may help ‘identify unknown relationships among individuals.’”

Today in Liberty: North and South Korea trade fire, Obama’s NSA reforms face big hurdles

“I think the impressionable libertarian kids are going to save our nation. The impressionable libertarian kids are saying, wait a second, benevolence is fleeting, and when benevolence is gone, you’re at the mercy of an all-powerful government and it’s too late.”Igor Birman

— North and South Korea exchange fire: North Korea decided to test fire some artillery into the ocean because Kim Jong-un wanted some attention. That led to a response from South Korea, though neither side fired any artillery on land or military installations, according to the AP. “North Korea routinely test-fires artillery and missiles into the ocean but rarely discloses those plans in advance. The announcement was seen as an expression of Pyongyang’s frustration at making little progress in its recent push to win outside aid,” the AP reported this morning. “No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, but Kim called the North’s artillery firing a provocation aimed at testing Seoul’s security posture. There was no immediate comment from North Korea.”

House Intel chair and NSA enabler will not seek reelection

Mike Rogers

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) announced Friday morning that he would not seek reelection in the 2014 midterms. He has served seven terms in the House since 2001, after serving in the Army and then FBI in the 80s and 90s. He has been chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House since Republicans took back that chamber in the 2010 elections.

Rogers is considered by most to be a reasonably reliable conservative representing a red, but not deep red, district. He has received the following lifetime ratings from various conservative and media organizations:

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