Archive for August, 2013


August 28, 2013 1 comment

Despite Jay Carney’s grim determination not to speculate on anything, it becomes clearer every day that Obama and his administration are readying plans to intervene in Syria. Carney, of course, refuses to speculate on the type, level, or purpose of our intervention. The administration has made it clear, though, that it intends to intervene on the side of the rebels. The rebels who, oddly enough, have pledged loyalty to Al Queda.

Before picking on Obama for his precipitous rush towards disaster, let’s take a look at what Obama has said about his unilateral authority to conduct war, or what he has, in the past referred to as, “kinetic actions.” We’ll start with the most famous of his constitutional pronouncements.

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” Obama told The Boston Globe in 2007. He added that the president can only act unilaterally in “instances of self-defense.” Clearly, he now believes the opposite. One can wonder if he sent a note of apology to Bush.

Neither did Obama seek congressional approval for his military strikes against Libya in 2011. That bombing campaign led to longtime dictator Muammar Gadhafi’s ouster.

Vice President Joe Biden, who voted for the Iraq War, agreed with Obama: “The president has no constitutional authority to take this country to war… unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked,” Biden said in 2007.

This was not a new position for Biden. He delivered a speech before the Senate outlining Congress’ powers to declare war back in 1998: “Given this,” Biden said at the time, “the only logical conclusion is that the framers intended to grant to Congress the power to initiate all hostilities, even limited wars.”

Even Kerry and Hagel both voted for the Iraq War, which they subsequently opposed. But they recognized that they, as members of Congress, were a necessary component of any military action.

So, having flip-flopped on what the president’s powers are, with nary a peep from Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, or any of the other noodleheads that opposed Bush, let’s see how he feels about the targets of his largesse.

“As we speak, al Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us. We’ve also taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan security forces. [W]e will deny Al Qaeda the safe haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.”  State of the Union speech Jan 26, 2011.

Apparently, we’ll just give them a new haven.

“Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.” From his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway Dec 10, 2009.

And why should they? We help arm them and attack their enemies.

“We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.” From his 2008 second presidential debate against John McCain Oct 7, 2008.

Unless, of course, we decide that supporting Al Qaeda is more important.

“But we have to make sure that we do not hesitate to act when it comes to Al Qaida. Because they are currently stronger than they were at any time since 2001.” From the  Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006

And he isn’t. Hesitating, that is. By the end of the week, we’ll be involved in Syria on the side of Al Qaeda.

If we have to go into Syria, let us at least go in on the side that opposes Al Qaeda. The rebels are terrorists, burning, killing, raping, and destroying all that doesn’t comport with islam. Obama, once upon a time, believed that Al Qaeda was our implacable enemy. He has said that they are responsible for the 9/11 act of terrorism. Now he is going to aid them. Have we completely lost any sense of moral outrage?

I understand that Obama is an opportunist, and will say anything to advance his interests of the moment. But are there no people willing to stand up and oppose this madness? We would do well to remember: “Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.” Friedrich Nietzsche

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Obama’s Syrian Blunder

Continuing strife in Syria apparently has President Obama befuddled. There are allegations that the Assad government has used chemical weapons against the rebels that are fighting to oust him from power. A year ago, Obama said the use of chemical weapons was a “red line” that the US could not tolerate. Faced with the recent allegations, however, Obama has yet to make a decision. “The president has not yet decided how to respond,” a senior administration official said Sunday. It appears that Obama’s “red line” is really more pink.

More importantly is Obama’s continuing failure to pick the wrong side in the Middle East. In Libya, it resulted in the death of four Americans in Benghazi, a debacle we have yet to fully grasp. In Egypt, he backed the Muslim Brotherhood honcho, Morsi, against more secular and moderate opponents. We now see the results of his choice there. And now, in Syria, he is poised to make the same mistake. If he intervenes, which seems a certainty at this point, it will be on the side of the rebels and against Assad.

Who are the rebels? Predominantly Al Qaeda and its offshoots.  Who says? Well, for starters, the NY Times and USA Today:

“Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of” — New York Times, April 28, 2013

“Syrian rebels pledge loyalty to al-Qaeda” — USA Today, April 11, 2013

This, by the way, is the same Al Qaeda that Obama declared was “decimated.” This is the same Al Qaeda that we have been sending troops to combat in the Middle East for a generation. We’ve been in Afghanistan for 12 years now, and still have no exit strategy other than surrender. We have tried diplomacy, economic and military aid, and military action, and yet Al Qaeda is still a force for evil in the world.

And yet, here we are, poised to aid these rebels that in the same part of the world are killing our soldiers. The Telegraph reports: “Navy ready to launch first strike on Syria,” by Tim Ross and Ben Farmer, August 25.

To be sure, Assad is no saint. But in a part of the world where the murder of Coptic, Assyrian, and Maronite Christians is now a daily occurrence, Assad was one leader that kept a lid on Islamic terrorism against those groups for years.

But Obama seems poised to make the same mistakes in Syria that he made elsewhere. According to one official, the White House believes the Syrian government had denied a U.N. investigative team immediate access to the site of a reported Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs, in order to give the evidence of the attack time to degrade. So, while we have “reports” of chemical weapons being used, we are unlikely to find evidence of it.

On the other hand, Syrian State TV announced Bashar Assad’s government would allow U.N. inspectors to visit the site – a statement later confirmed by the U.N. The mission is already on site.

Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Syrian government that it needed to give the inspectors immediate and unimpeded access to the site “rather than continuing to attack the affected area to block access and destroy evidence.”

“If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it – do we have the coalition to make it work?” Obama said in an interview broadcast Friday. “Those are considerations that we have to take into account.”

Meanwhile, Samantha Power, the newly confirmed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, didn’t attend the Security Council’s emergency meeting on the alleged chemical-weapons attack in Syria on Thursday. When pressed,  the State Department offered little information. U.N. sources revealed to Fox News that she was in the country for a personal trip.

Obama appears prepared to make the same mistake in Syria that his predecessor made in the region. He will likely use military force against Assad based on unclear or non-existent evidence, and use it against the same forces that he continues to war against elsewhere. And he will use it to aid the side that is most inimical to our interests in the region. Resulting in, predictably, greater instability, more massacres of those deemed insufficiently “Islamic,” and emboldened enemies of the US. It’s time to either let the two sides battle it out between each other, or at least support the side that promises the most advantage to our interests.

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North Carolina is joining the American mainstream. It is joining at least 30 other states to adopt a voter-ID law. Such laws enjoy broad public support. A Washington Post poll last year showed that the very groups that leftists claim will be disenfranchised actually support the law by wide margins. 65 percent of blacks and 64 percent of Latinos support voter ID.  So much for the narrative that Voter ID is a war against poor minorities – because they support it more than whites.  According to a Marist poll for McClatchy, minority support for Voter ID is at 83%.  White support, 82%.     Low-income support is 84%.  Higher income support: 82%. While the deltas are small, what isn’t small is the aggregate support across all demographics.

Opponents claim that by requiring every voter to display specific forms of government-issued identification, it will disproportionately affect the very minorities and low-income people that support it overwhelmingly.

But let’s look at some of the opponent’s claims. First, the constitutionality of voter ID isn’t in doubt. The Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter-ID law in 2008 in a 6–3 decision written by now-retired liberal Justice John Paul Stevens. The evidence suggests that voter ID laws don’t suppress the votes of anyone. Hans A. von Spakovsky, a voting expert at the Heritage Foundation, points out that major, dispassionate studies show no effect on turnout. Groups opposed to Georgia’s voter-ID law, passed in 2005, sued and struck out at federal district court. As von Spakovsky writes, “The court pointed out that after two years of litigation, none of the plaintiff organizations like the NAACP had been able to produce a single individual or member who did not have a photo ID or could not easily obtain one.”

So, at least according to the Supreme Court, nobody’s rights are being violated by Voter ID laws. Let us also note that Sweden and Switzerland both have Voter ID laws. Sweden is certainly not regarded as a backward, redneck country, nor is Switzerland. And in Rhode Island, the Democrats passed a Voter ID law.

Opponents of the law also like to say that fraud is “nonexistent.” But to the contrary, it was recently revealed that fake signatures got Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the primary ballot in Indiana in 2008, and Milwaukee County charged ten people earlier this year with voter fraud in 2012. As the Supreme Court noted in the Indiana case, “Flagrant examples of such fraud in other parts of the country have been documented throughout this nation’s history.”

Even if fraud is neither massive nor decisive, it nonetheless should be prevented to the extent possible. Every fraudulent vote disenfranchises a legal and legitimate voter. Certainly counting every legitimate vote is a goal worth pursuing, yes?

Opponents complain that the law is cutting back on early voting, from 17 days to ten days. But the state makes up for the reduced days with more sites where voters can vote early and greater hours of operation.

The left claims the law ends same-day registration. But the majority of states — including New York — don’t allow same-day registration.

According to the ever-balanced Huffington Post,  “It would also cut back on the hours allotted for early voting, prohibit people from registering on the same day that they vote, and cancel a popular program to register high-school students — practices that have boosted electoral participation among young and black voters and may have helped President Barack Obama carry the state in 2008.” It seems that Huffington’s objection is that the law doesn’t offer enough advantage to traditionally democratic voters.

I suppose that, if someone has never had a driver’s license or state ID, has lost his birth certificate, can’t afford a new birth certificate copy, lost his marriage license, lost his Social Security card, lost his passport or never had one, has never filed a tax return or never kept a copy of a tax return, W2 form, or any other of the tax documents the IRS sends to US taxpayers, has never been in court or, if he has has never retained a copy of any of the documents generated by that court appearance, has not kept his high school diploma or any other record from high school and the high school and all its records were destroyed by fire, or has a typo in any document he does have, doesn’t have the $7 fee that the state will waive anyway so doesn’t have any money, has no legs, has no wheelchair, has no one to drive them to any of the numerous places one can register to vote, can’t write, can’t use the mail because they have no mailbox, no paper, and no pen, just does not want to trouble to get any of these documents out of her drawer or file cabinet, or is not a citizen but wants to vote, then NC’s law would make it difficult to vote.

But there is an argument for making voting more, rather than less, difficult. As I said in the past, “Rights are inextricably and intimately bound up with responsibilities. The right to vote, like any other right, is not absolute. Having the right to free speech does not require that anyone provide you a platform, nor does the second amendment require the government to give you a gun. Likewise, the right to vote does not require that the government allow you to do it early, or at your convenience, or at your choice of location. Sometimes the hard work of being a good citizen requires sacrifice. It may not require heroic virtue, but it requires some effort. Voting on election day is not that great a sacrifice that it should be abrogated capriciously.”

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NSA and the War on America

Remember when you could trust the government? Neither do I. Even when I was a small, very small, part of it, I knew it could not be trusted. I have always maintained that government is an evil, although a necessary one. While the job of government is to limit men’s freedoms in order to protect those of others, we have in America a constitution that limits the power of the government. The constitution was designed to limit the power of government in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity.

And while my friends and acquaintances mocked my insistence that government was evil, the government was doing its damnedest to prove me right. And now comes news reports that the NSA and the Obama administration have lied to us, the proletariat, again about the scope and scale of the spying they have done on us.

We remember that General James Clapper said, in testimony before Congress, that the NSA did not collect any data at all from citizens. Then, a few days later, he was forced to recant his testimony, and admit that the NSA did collect data, but it was only “metadata.” This metadata, apologists told us, fell outside of the protections of the fourth amendment. Not to worry, they all said, nobody is reading content, just everything else. President Obama, just last week, said: “as President, I’ve taken steps to make sure they have strong oversight by all three branches of government and clear safeguards to prevent abuse and protect the rights of the American people.” Yet the Obama administration has provided almost no public information about the NSA’s compliance record.

Guess what? The government has lied to us again. The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents. The NSA audit counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications.

In one instance, the NSA decided that it was not required to report the unintended surveillance of Americans. In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court, when it was told about it, ruled it unconstitutional “Every now and then, there may be a mistake,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in congressional testimony.

Documents published by the Washington Post reveal the number of violations increasing every year. The news reports and documents are in direct contrast to the repeated assertions by Obama, Clapper, and General Keith Alexander that the US government does not listen to or look at Americans’ phone calls or emails. And yet, we are treated to official pronouncements that oversight by the administration was “extensive” and “robust.”

Additionally, the Chief Judge of the FISA Court admits that the court is unable to stop the NSA’s abuses: “The FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court,” Judge Reggie B. Walton, said in a written statement. “The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance.”  While many people have complained that the FISC is just a rubber stamp for the CIA, FBI, and NSA, the reality is worse by degrees. The Court has admitted that it cannot do what Obama claims it is doing: exercising oversight to uphold constitutional restrictions on government intrusion and constitutional rights held by citizens. So we know that the FISC isn’t controlling the NSA.

Representative Sensenbrenner recently complained that “the practice of classified briefings are (sic) a ‘rope-a-dope operation’ in which lawmakers are given information and then forbidden from speaking out about it.” Last week, it was even uncovered that the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, failed to provide freshmen members of Congress vital documents about the NSA’s activities during a key vote to reapprove the spying. So the freshmen were left to vote like Pelosi: pass it to find out what’s in it. And this year, the congressional bodies charged with oversight have been woefully derelict. The House Intelligence committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight has not met at all, and the Senate Intelligence committee has met only twice.

At what point do we recognize that the government isn’t merely ineffective or indifferent, but actively inimical to our citizenry’s interests?

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Obama golfs, Egypt burns

After announcing Thursday that the United States had canceled longstanding joint military exercises with the Egyptian Army set for next month, Obama spoke Friday, saying, “We deplore violence against civilians.” He then went out to play another round of golf.

“America cannot determine the future of Egypt,” Obama said Thursday, as he appealed for calm and condemned the violence. Of course, this is after supporting the Muslim Brotherhood against the Mubarik government. And, not so parenthetically, after supporting the Brotherhood against the military, the Copts, and 50 percent of the population.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry took a break from his fruitless obsession with the nonexistent “peace process” to condemn the violence, but took no questions and had no policy announcement.

While Obama pontificates about how horrible the military regime in Egypt is, he conveniently fails to mention the barbarity of the Muslim Brotherhood. The MB is not the voice of freedom or democracy, nor is it the voice of the people. Remember, this current round of unrest began with secular demonstrations against the MB’s increasing demands for fundamentalist-sharia laws and policies.

Doubt it? A careful analysis by Frederic L. Pryor of Swarthmore College in the Middle East Quarterly (”Are Muslim Countries Less Democratic?”) concludes that “In all but the poorest countries, Islam is associated with fewer political rights.” The demonstrators against Morsi knew it.

The MB knows it, too. The overthrow of Hosni Mubarak was arguably the most significant transition to come out of the 2011 change in the Middle East. But the country is now caught between an islamic movement and a military-backed government that, while flirting with the tactics of the Mubarak regime, has done more to protect religious minorities than even Mubarak did.

As of Wednesday, these churches have been burnt or attacked by the Muslim Brotherhood:

Three churches and six buildings at the monastery of the Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am in Dalga, Minya, Upper Egypt
The church of Mar-Mina in the district of Abu-Hilal in the town of Minya
The bishopric church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Sohag, Upper Egypt
The church of the Holy Virgin in Nazla, Fayoum, Lower Egypt
The Baptist church in Beni-Mazar, Minya
Coptic-owned shops in Gumhouriya Street in Assiut, Upper Egypt
The Good Shepherd School in Suez
The Franciscan School in Suez
The Holy Bible Society in Fayoum
The church of al-Amir Tawadros (St Theodore) in Fayoum
The church of the Holy Virgin in the district of Abu-Hilal in the town of Minya
The Catholic church of St Mark, Minya
The Jesuit church in Abu-Hilal, Minya
The church of Mar-Morqos (St Mark) and its community center, Sohag
18 houses of Coptic families in Dalga, Minya, including the home of Father Angaelus Melek of the Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am’s
The Evangelical church on Nassara Street in Abu-Hilal, Minya
The church of Anba Moussa al-Aswad in Minya
Coptic-owned shops, pharmacies, and a doctor’s clinic in Minya
The Jesuit church in Minya (attacked, not burned)
The St Fatima Basilica in Cairo (attacked, not burned)
St Joseph’s School in Minya (attacked, not burned)
The Nile boat al-Dahabiya, owned by the Evangelical Church in Minya
Coptic-owned shops, pharmacy, and hotels on Karnak Street and Cleopatra Street in Luxor (attacked and looted)
The church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Wasta (attacked)
The church of St Michael on Nemeis Street in Assiut, Upper Egypt
The Adventist church in Assiut; the pastor and his wife were both kidnapped
The Greek church in Suez
The church of Mar-Girgis in Assiut
Coptic houses on Qulta Street in Assiut attacked
The church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Arish, North Sinai
The church of St Dimiana and the Evangelical church in the village of Zerbi in Fayoum
The offices of the Evangelical foundation in Minya, and those of Umm al-Nour in Beni-Mazar, Minya
The church of Anba Antonius in Kerdassa, Giza
The bishopric church in Etfeeh, Giza

On this oppression and violence, Obama and his administration are completely, and predictably, silent.

Meanwhile, in nearby Syria, a civil war has engulfed the country amid Obama’s aid to al-Qaeda troops. And in Libya, militants attacked the U.S. compound in Benghazi last fall despite U.S. military support for the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi and Assad (pere et fils) were at least nominally protective of the ethnic and religious minorities

Obama’s middle east policy has been a hash. The U.S. has refused to label Morsi’s ouster a coup. That means, under U.S. law, the administration can continue to send $1.5 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian government.  So, despite the tough talk on supporting the MB in Egypt, Obama continues to support the military regime with money.

Syria continues to be a quagmire, with Assad continuing to hold power, despite our economic and military support of al-qaeda.  Meanwhile, Obama crows about killing bin-Laden and decimating al-qaeda in Afghanistan. Libya and Tunisia are just islamic  hellholes, where the MB aligned factions feel free to murder our ambassadors. Given Obama’s lies about the cause, and his failure to do anything about the murders, there isn’t much question as to why the MB feels so empowered. Turkey is becoming more and more Islamic everyday, and Obama ignores the people’s Green Revolution in Iran, consigning that country to being a lost cause. Afghanistan remains a sinkhole that we keep watering with our blood to no good end.

All in all, Obama has done significant damage to our national interests throughout the middle east, as well as deflating the hopes of those who saw the US as a force for good in the world. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Or in the present case, to do the wrong thing; and poorly, at that.

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