Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Obama: Osama bin Laden is dead. The terror threat is gone. Ooops!

Early in 2012, a State Department official commented that the war on terror was over, and about a year later President Barack Obama repeated that idea.

With that declaration began an active effort to cleanse the national dialog of the idea of Islamic terrorism and the use of any words used to describe it. The term “War on Terror” was replaced with the euphemism “Overseas Contingency Operations,” and the murder of 13 people at Ft. Hood by a Muslim U.S. Army doctor was termed “Workplace Violence.”

Since terrorism was no longer a threat, Mr. Obama removed our troops from Iraq, and reiterated his pledge to close our terrorist detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and do something with the accused terrorists being held there. In fact, five of them were traded not long ago for the suspected Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl.

But now reality again rears its ugly head. ISIS or ISIL, Hamas, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Islam … names that are synonymous with brutality, mayhem and murder, are prominent in the news, and we frequently hear about cutting off fingers and hands, and mercy killings of people for their crimes, or beheadings and mass executions for the indiscretion of not believing as the members of these organizations insist that you must believe.

Recent events in the Middle East and Africa have shown the brutal, uncivilized acts committed by the savages in these organizations more frequently than ever before. The war on Christians and against Israel reached levels that broke through the administration’s well-developed immunity against the reality of Islamic atrocities and terrorism, and has refocused their attention on it again, at last.

Hamas dug tunnels from Gaza into Israel to murder Israelis with rocket-propelled grenades, it fires rockets deliberately aimed at civilian areas and protects its rockets by hiding them in schools and other public structures, resulting in the deaths of more than a thousand Palestinians when Israel targets places from which attacks have been launched. USA Today reported that Hamas firing squads publicly executed 18 Gaza Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. Later, gunmen in black Hamas garb lined up seven hooded men and shot them dead as hundreds watched.

“Northern Nigeria's riot police training academy has been overrun by Boko Haram Islamist militants,” a witness in Borno state told the BBC. “Boko Haram is blamed for the killing of more than 10,000 people since the start of its militant Islamist offensive in 2009 across northeastern Nigeria,” said the Daily Kos online.

CNN reports that in the areas of Syria “controlled by ISIS, public floggings and executions have become commonplace. Most recently ISIS has battled other opposition groups in fighting that has left well over 2,000 people dead.”

“The militant Sunni group ISIS has said it is establishing a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria. It also proclaimed the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as caliph and ‘leader for Muslims everywhere,’” according to the UK Guardian online.

But Iraq, Israel, Syria and Nigeria have no patent on this savagery, and our essentially non-existent southern border is an invitation for that evil to enter the U.S. Some Islamists probably have “sneaked in” legally through airports.

Members of ISIS/ISIR in Iraq have said they will raise their black flag over the White House. People in the know in the United States believe this threat is not an idle one, and that we must take action to prevent attack from within.

This threat highlights the absolute idiocy, recklessness, and irresponsibility of the Obama administration’s “hands-off” policy on the southern border, and means our government has no idea who is coming across the border or how many Islamic terrorists are here already.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told an Oklahoma TV station that ISIS has now set its sights on Americans and targets on U.S. soil. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told a Pentagon press briefing that “because of open borders and immigration issues,” ISIS/ISIL is an “immediate threat.” “We're in the most dangerous position we've ever been in as a nation," he said.

A former CIA officer told CNN that ISIS is already on this side of the Atlantic. "I have been told with no uncertainty there are ISIS sleeper cells in this country," Bob Baer said. While CNN reported that two U.S. officials had refuted his claim, the network said the officials are worried that ISIS militants with passports might travel to the U.S. to launch attacks on American soil.

“The West are idiots and fools," one ISIS fighter told a Reuters reporter. "They think we are waiting for them to give us visas to go and attack them,” and implied that attacks could take place through sleeper cells in both Europe and the United States. 

The war on terror isn’t over at all, and it never was, except in the Never-Never Land that is the Obama White House. The critical question is whether Mr. Obama will free himself from the bonds of his ideology and satisfactorily address this very serious threat.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Honor and integrity take a back seat to politics in Austin, Texas

In April 2013 in Travis County, Texas, where the capital city of Austin is located, District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving. Her blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit (.08 is the threshold, and her level was .23), and there was an open bottle of vodka in her car, in violation of the state’s open container law.

Dash cam and police station videos, which are available for viewing on YouTube, show Ms. Lehmberg failing sobriety testing and taunting arresting officers and even threatening them at the police station. One of the officers described action that took place off camera in which she kicked doors and acted violently. Her bad behavior also included rudeness, being uncooperative, and pointing her finger like a gun. And eventually she had to be placed in a restraining device. Reports say her behavior could have earned her a felony charge for assaulting a police officer.

Ms. Lehmberg pleaded guilty to drunk driving and served about half of a 45-day sentence, but said she would not resign from her position of trust as DA.

Ms. Lehmberg has been battling alcoholism for some time, according to reports. Alcoholism does not automatically preclude a person from being a public servant, even a prosecutor. However, someone whose alcoholism leads to an arrest for driving drunk, a crime that too often ends in the death of innocent citizens, followed by the poor behavior demonstrated by Ms. Lehmberg, has proved himself or herself to be unsuitable for the role of prosecutor. Put in the best possible light, it both looks bad and smells bad: You simply cannot have a confessed drunk driver as a prosecutor.

Among those who think Ms. Lehmberg should have stepped down is Texas Governor Rick Perry, although he has no official authority over county DAs.

Following her refusal to step down, Gov. Perry said he would cut $7.5 million in state money from Ms. Lehmberg’s Public Integrity Unit unless she resigned, which he later did through a line item veto. By law, the governor has veto authority.

For acting in the best interest of the people of Travis County, a jury decided it was an abuse of his power, and indicted Gov. Perry on two felony counts.

An Austin attorney filed a lawsuit to remove Ms. Lehmberg from office, but last December a judge ruled that she could keep her job. That attorney has now filed an ethics complaint against her, citing alleged unreported campaign contributions Ms. Lehmberg used to defend herself in the removal lawsuit totaling $227,000.

As it turns out, the Public Integrity Unit has a history of politically motivated prosecutions that failed for lack of substance. Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson was indicted, but never tried, and Republican Congressman Tom Delay was indicted, tried, convicted and then had his conviction overturned on appeal for lack of him having actually committed a crime. It appears the Unit is more concerned with generating political results favoring the Democrat Party than it is with integrity. Sen. Hutchinson may run for governor, and Mr. Delay had earned the hatred of Democrats through his activities. It is not a stretch to use the term “corrupt” in describing at least some of the Unit’s actions.

It’s interesting that the source of the action against Republican Gov. Perry arises from the very office that he defunded because its head, the convicted and jailed drunk driver Rosemary Lehmberg, refused to do the right thing and resign. You see, Travis County, Texas, is heavily Democrat, and Ms. Lehmberg is a Democrat.

Liberal law professor Jonathan Turley had this to say about the indictment: “In this case, the special prosecutor [who answers to Ms. Lehmberg] seemed to pound hard to get these square facts into these round holes. A bit too hard for such a case.” And Democrat political advisor David Axelrod termed the indictment “sketchy.”

Mary Anne Wiley, General Counsel for Gov. Perry, said in a statement following the indictment: “The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution. We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”

The grand jury process is secret and entirely controlled by the prosecution, and the accused has no opportunity to argue charges made by the prosecution, and in fact is not even present during the process. Which is the reason for the now-famous observation that through the grand jury process you “can indict a ham sandwich.” It is instructive that the staunchest defenders of the grand jury system are prosecutors. Gov. Perry would no doubt prefer to replace the sour grapes on his ham sandwich with Swiss cheese.

During the arrest procedure, Ms. Lehmberg repeatedly accused police of ruining her career by arresting her for being three-times-the-legal-limit drunk behind the wheel. Then, her Public Integrity Unit goes after a sitting governor in a way that results in the Governor having an indictment and a mug shot on his record. Whose career was really damaged by a third party? And who benefits from this episode of gutter politics by Democrats?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Local schools increasingly under the thumb of the federal government

A video produced and distributed by Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) contains information that should concern all of us. The organization focuses on local control of education, and highlights issues it finds objectionable. This video highlights a survey being given to 6th graders at St. Mary’s Parish, Louisiana without parents’ knowledge or permission.

It features a mother, Brooke Falgout, who has pulled her daughters from St. Mary’s public schools after she learned of objectionable questions on a school survey one of her daughters had taken upon entering the 6th grade, which the daughter didn’t mention to her mother because she didn’t want to upset her. However, Mrs. Falgout became concerned when another mom told her about the survey.

She said the survey asked questions such as:
    •    Have you ever looked at porn? How did it make you feel?
    •    Would you ever take pictures of the girls in the locker room and put them on social media?
    •    Is your mom a good mom? Does she spend time with you?
    •    Do you get snacks after school?
    •    It asked personal questions about mom and dad, their family life and “how it goes.”

She thinks such questions are out of line, and suggested that a 6th grade boy who never thought about porn before, and didn’t know what porn was, has now been made aware of it and as a result may be interested in it.

When she asked school officials about the survey, Mrs. Falgout said they told her that the kids really didn’t have to answer the questions. But she said they were given the survey and most likely did read it, and may not have realized they shouldn’t answer the questions.

Mrs. Falgout said that the school caused a breach between her and her daughter, evidenced by the fact that her daughter was reluctant to even discuss the survey with her mom.

Information presented at the end of the video explains that these surveys “are normally given to satisfy federal data collection for the Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools and also an FCC Internet ‘safety’ requirement.”

The ROPE video advises parents to tell their children to refuse to take these surveys, and that “parents have the right to educate their children in the way they see fit. Public schools cannot force children to do anything against the wishes of the parent.”

There are competing perspectives on this particular issue and others of similar nature. The important question is, which topics are genuinely the proper business of school officials, and which are clear invasions of the privacy of individuals living in a free society?

The public schools operated by the individual states are increasingly under the thumb of the federal government, as the statement in the video demonstrates.

Another example of unwarranted and unwelcomed intrusions comes from the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which took effect July 1. This law makes illegal “any foods and beverages sold to students on school grounds that are not part of the Agriculture Department’s school meal programs.”

Prior to this law taking effect, the USDA only controlled food in school cafeterias, but the new law expands federal control to food anywhere on campus during the school day. While it hasn’t yet banned school bake sales for fund raising, Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, indicates that eventually it will, and also will eventually control food sold at school sporting events any time, at any location.

Given the abundant evidence of federal over-reaching, it is not beyond comprehension that some day if you have forbidden food products in your glove compartment or trunk on school property, you might have violated a federal law.

The federal government believes it can dictate to schools owned and operated by the individual states what food they may or may not serve, among other things. Is there any limit to the government’s hunger to control everything? Apparently not as long as federal money is involved, and schools do rely heavily on federal funding.

It gets worse: A Richmond, Virginia pre-school sent a message home to parents, part of which said: “I have received word from Federal Programs Preschool pertaining to lunches from home. Parents are to be informed that students can only bring lunches from home if there is a medical condition requiring a specific diet, along with a physicians note to that regard.”

Just how the federal government regards the freedom for Americans to make basic decisions about life is revealed in an argument government attorneys put forth defending the Food and Drug Administration’s ban on the interstate sale of raw milk: “There is no 'deeply rooted' historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds … Plaintiffs' assertion of a 'fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families' is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish."

That statement is breathtaking in its ignorance of our history and values, and in demonstrating the boundless arrogance of the federal government.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

What to do about lawlessness: Impeach? Sue? Explain away? Celebrate?

The governmental system of the United States of America was carefully designed to prevent the sort of oppression that the colonists had fought and died to escape in the Revolutionary War from arising under the new government. The Framers reacted to an intolerable system where the people were totally at the mercy of the king and the parliament, without a real voice of their own.

Toward that end, the Framers created a tri-partite government with a legislative branch, an executive branch and a judicial branch, each with its specific and limited powers, and each with abilities to limit the power of the other two branches through a system of checks and balances.

In this system, the Congress, and only the Congress, makes law. The executive branch is charged with implementing and enforcing the laws that Congress makes and with operating the government efficiently. The judiciary, through the Supreme Court and other federal courts, has the sole power to interpret the law, determine the constitutionality of laws, and apply the law to individual cases.

This system of government is by design inefficient, with separated powers and checks and balances to prevent a tyrannical majority from running roughshod over the minority.

But even this well-thought-out system isn’t perfect, and the Democrat Party demonstrated that in 2009 and early 2010 when the 111th Congress with Democrat majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the Affordable Care Act with no Republican input in the bill’s creation, and no Republicans voting for it, and a Democrat president signed it into law.

It seemed not to bother the Democrats that by their action they had thwarted the integrity of the constitutional system the Framers had so diligently and prudently created, despite their having sworn an oath to uphold it. To the contrary, they celebrated their dubious victory.

Add to that a president who uses his position to take actions the Constitution does not authorize him to take, and in fact specifically precludes him from taking by granting exclusive law-making authority to the Congress. Congress, in fact, or at least some members of Congress, seems content to allow the president to do this, even though by him taking these actions and by Congress allowing it, the executive branch renders the legislative branch a purposeless relic.

Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution begins: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”

And from the horses mouth, so to speak, proclaims: “The power of the Executive Branch is vested in the President of the United States, who also acts as head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The President is responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws written by Congress ...”

The president’s job is to implement and enforce laws. He is not authorized to unilaterally decide which laws to enforce, or to change the provisions of laws. Congress makes laws and amends laws.

While the president has latitude and flexibility in operating the government, any action he takes contrary to written law or constitutional intent may be challenged as unconstitutional.

Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, writing in Commentary magazine online, comments: “Examples include (but are not limited to) unilaterally delaying implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, issuing health-care edicts that undermine the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, making unconstitutional ‘recess appointments’ to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, refusing to enforce current immigration laws related to illegal immigrants who were brought to America as children, and waving welfare work requirements.”

“I suppose the temptation to act as a potentate is understandable; but it also happens to be illegal. The president, after all, has the constitutional duty to “’take care that the Laws be faithfully executed,’” Mr. Wehner added, referencing Article 2, Section 3.

Since Congressional Democrats seem to subscribe to the “ends justifies the means” school of thought, they are perfectly content with the president’s lawlessness, and the media has done a good job of demonizing Republicans for opposing that lawlessness.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), notes that the House has passed 356 bills that have piled up on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) desk awaiting Senate action. She told TheBlaze that 98 percent of those bills were passed with bipartisan support. Two hundred of them were passed with unanimous support from the entire House chamber and more than 100 were passed with 75 percent support of House Democrats. Yet the Democrat controlled Senate ignores them.

And, before the government shutdown, House Republicans passed bills to avoid the shutdown that the Senate never acted on by, and there was no effort at compromise. And still the media, the president, and Democrats in Congress keep telling us that Republicans aren’t doing anything.

If Democrats in Congress won’t stand up to the president’s over-reaching, honor their oath of office and protect Congress’ constitutional authority, and continue to oppose legal action and impeachment, by their inaction they will have abetted the evolution of an imperial presidency, returning to United States the tyranny that existed before the Revolution.