Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

‘Stupid’ Republicans

Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s Republican governor, bluntly called his party the "stupid party." He also said that, "The Republican Party does not need to change our principles…but we might need to change just about everything else we do."

This stupidity was recently on display when House Republicans and especially grandstanding Senate Republicans melodramatically grilled the now wildly popular Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about "what she knew and when she knew it" about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Any viewer of the televised hearings would have thought that Republican members of Congress were talking about an administration transgression of Watergate-style proportions. It’s a travesty that the real tragedy of the killing of four Americans associated with the American consulate by heavily armed Islamists has become so politicized.

Hillary Clinton skillfully made monkeys out of the Republican congressional attempt to make a mountain out of a molehill – or perhaps in this case, a sandstorm out of sand dune – by noting that President Barack Obama had said right from the start that the attack was a terrorist attack and asking this obvious question: with four Americans dead, who cares if those militants took advantage of a protest (later determined to be inaccurate) or just decided they wanted to kill Americans? Even the worst case – that the Obama administration had been fibbing a bit to avoiding undermining its election storyline that Obama’s first term had been one of vanquishing Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda – is a yawner after the mountain of lies the George W. Bush administration told about Saddam Hussein’s involvement with al Qaeda and 9/11 and Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. These lies were told to involve the United States in an unnecessary and costly war – in both blood and treasure – that lasted almost a decade and was counterproductive in generating more terrorism.

The more important issue, remedying the obvious gaps in U.S. diplomatic security, seeped its way into the hearing but was, of course, eclipsed by Republicans beating a dead horse (or shall we say camel) about the Obama administration’s initially erroneous version of how the Benghazi attack went down. Even more crucial, the Republicans were too busy grandstanding – and war boostering – to legitimately attack Clinton about the chaos in Libya that resulted in the consular attack being caused by the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, which the administration played a crucial role in facilitating.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Obama Violated Constitution With Recess Appointments, Appeals Court Rules

On Friday, a federal appeals court ruled that President Obama’s 2012 recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were unconstitutional.

Specifically, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the recess appointments violated the Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the so-called Appointments Clause.

This article grants the president power to “nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law.”

Just over a year ago, President Obama used recess appointments to fill three seats on the National Labor Relations Board, arguing that the appointments were made in complete compliance with his Article II powers.

The majority of the D.C. Appeals Court disagreed, writing:

The [NLRB] conceded at oral argument that the appointments at issue were not made during the intersession recess: the President made his three appointments to the Board on January 4, 2012, after Congress began a new session on January 3 and while that new session continued. Considering the text, history, and structure of the Constitution, these appointments were invalid from their inception. Because the Board lacked a quorum of three members when it issued its decision in this case on February 8, 2012, its decision must be vacated. [Citations contained in the opinion have been omitted in this article.]

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Guns and the President

Here is an uncomfortable pop quiz: Who has killed more children, Adam Lanza or Barack Obama? We'll hold off on the answer for a few paragraphs while we look at the state of governmental excess – including killing – in America. But you can probably guess the correct answer from the manner in which I have posed the question.
We all know that the sheet anchor of our liberties is the Declaration of Independence. The president himself quoted Thomas Jefferson's most famous line in his inaugural address earlier this week. He recognized that all men and women are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The president would no doubt like to modify the word "created" to read "shall be maintained," since his presidency seems dedicated to keeping us equal, not in terms of equality of rights and opportunity but of outcome. He has dedicated himself to using the coercive power of the federal government to take from those who have and give to those who don't. Under the Constitution, charity is a decision for individuals to make, not the government.

This forced egalitarianism was never the purpose of government in America. When the people in the original 13 states gave up some of their personal liberties to create their state governments so they could perform the services that governments in the West do, and when the states themselves gave up some of their liberties to create the federal government of limited powers to address the issues of nationhood, they never authorized government to impose taxes to transfer wealth to those who lack it or need it.
This may sound harsh, but there is simply no authority in the Constitution for the feds to tax Americans or to borrow money in their names to rebuild private homes in New Orleans or at the Jersey Shore. And there is no moral authority for that, either. If folks want to give money to those whose properties were damaged by natural disasters and lacked adequate insurance coverage, they are free to do so, but nowhere does government have the authority to compel us to do so.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TPP Trade Agreement a "Top Priority" for Second Obama Administration

With just two months until the next (16th) round of negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) begin in Singapore, supporters of the inaptly named “free trade agreement” are ratcheting up the number of reports favorably promoting formation of the regional trade bloc.

In an article published by World Politics Review, for example, Edward Alden writes that the Obama administration’s acceptance and acceleration of the TPP is the “biggest swerve” away from a global Great Depression.

Alden writes:

The global financial crisis of 2008 and the recession that followed produced the first steep decline in world trade since the Great Depression. Yet rather than falling down, the United States and other countries have managed to swerve and keep going.
The biggest swerve was the embrace of regional trade liberalization, starting with Asia.
Identifying the TPP as the president’s “top trade priority,” Alden suggests that the “embrace of regional trade liberalization” will keep the United States from falling down the steep decline toward economic devastation.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Is Rand Paul A ‘Christian Zionist’?

As Israel’s ultra-nationalist parties continue to gain traction, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to appease them by building "settlements" with US taxpayer dollars on Palestinian land, the hostility between Washington and Tel Aviv is coming out into the open. While tension has been building for a while – I would argue since George W. Bush’s second term, when Dubya balked at going along with the Cheney-neocon plan for war with Iran – it is now reaching a dramatic climax with the spectacle of the Israeli Prime Minister openly rebuking Washington for alleged "interference" in Israeli politics. This is rich coming from someone who made no secret of his preference for Mitt Romney, and it comes in response to the publication of a recent piece by Obama supporter and pro-Israel writer Jeffrey Goldberg detailing the President’s private remarks on the settlements question. Goldberg reported:

"When informed about the Israeli decision [to build more settlements], Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn’t even bother getting angry. He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.
"In the weeks after the UN vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, ‘Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.’ With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation."
Netanyahu, in full campaign mode – the elections are next week – was quick to respond, as the Jerusalem Post reports:

"’I think everyone understands that only Israel’s citizens are those who will be the ones to determine who faithfully represents Israel’s vital interests,’ the prime minister said in his first direct response to Obama’s reported criticism.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is Obama Shaping a New Majority—Or Electing A New People?

In the 20th century, only two presidents shaped new governing coalitions that outlasted them. They were the only two men to appear on five national tickets.

The first was FDR, who rang down the curtain in 1932 on the seven decades of Republican hegemony since Abraham Lincoln that had seen only two Democrats in the White House. And Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson had made it only because of divisions inside the GOP.

Franklin Roosevelt would win four terms, and his party would win the presidency in seven of nine elections between 1932 and 1968.

Richard Nixon was the next craftsman of a governing coalition. While he won with only 43 percent in 1968, by 1972 he had cobbled together a New Majority that would give the GOP four victories in five elections between 1972 and 1988. In two of those victories, Nixon and Ronald Reagan would roll up 49-state landslides.

Roosevelt and Nixon both employed the politics of conflict and confrontation, not conciliation, to smash the old coalition. Find me something to veto, Roosevelt once said to his aides, seeking to start a fight with his adversaries to rally his grumbling troops.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gun-Control Double Standard for Political Class and American People?

While Vice President Joe Biden has been conducting a week of meetings on efforts to curb gun violence that seemed to be focused on nothing but more gun control, President Obama signed a law Thursday that ensures lifetime protection for himself and his family, as well as the safety of future presidents.

The legislation signed by the president was written by Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. According to the press secretary’s office, the law “restores lifetime Secret Service protection of former Presidents who did not serve as President prior to January 1, 1997, and their spouses; and provides for protection of all children of former Presidents until they become 16 years of age.”

The “Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012” makes changes to a law written in the mid-1990s that imposes a 10-year limit on Secret Service protection for former presidents. President George W. Bush is the first former president affected.

When the original law was written, lawmakers defended it by saying it would save the government millions of dollars, and argued that former presidents retained the option to hire private security firms, like Richard Nixon did after he opted out of Secret Service protection in 1985.

The “Former Presidents Protection Act” passed in both the House and the Senate with ease.
But some analysts view the law as a flagrant example of the double standard the political elite maintains for itself and the average American citizen.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Senate delivers fatal end-of-term blow to Constitution

In one of the final acts of the 112th Congress, the U.S. Senate dealt a fatal blow to the U.S. Constitution by passing President Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act for 2013, which contains the same illegal detention of U.S. citizens as its 2012 predecessor, and defeating amendments to and enacting Texas Republican Representative Lamar Smith’s House Resolution 5949, the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2012.

HR 5949 keeps the warrantless surveillance authority imposed by the Bush-Cheney administration under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008—the National Security Agency’s operation STELLAR WIND—in place. With the Obama administration forcing through the reauthorization of STELLAR WIND, illegal wiretapping by NSA of American citizens’ phone calls, emails, faxes, telexes, social networking instant messages (IMs) and short message services (SMSs), Voice-Over-IP (VOIP), and files contained in cloud storage can now be called Obama’s illegal surveillance program.

Obama was required by NSA to seek STELLAR WIND’s reauthorization because NSA requires congressional cover for the launching of the most massive eavesdropping and storage program in the history of the world. NSA will soon be storing every form of electronic communication sent and received by U.S. citizens at its $1.5 billion Utah Data Center located within the Camp Williams Utah National Guard base near Bluffdale, Utah. The NSA will be combining its signals intelligence functions as NSA/Central Security Service with its computer intelligence and information functions as part of its U.S. Cyber Command responsibilities under the aegis of a program known as the Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center that will deploy the NSA’s follow-on to its post-9/11 data mining program, the Novel Intelligence from Massive Data (NIMD). With its new powers granted by Congress, NSA has become the most intrusive intelligence agency in the world today.

A few senators attempted to seek amendments to the HR 5949, but no no avail. A substitution to the House bill offered by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and the Senate President pro tem, failed with a vote of 38 for to 52 against with 10 not voting. Other amendments introduced by Senators Ran Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) were rejected by the Senate. The Paul amendment would have ensured that Fourth Amendments rights were protected under the re-authorization, Merkley’s amendment would have required the Attorney General to disclose Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court significant interpretations of the eavesdropping statute, and the Wyden amendment would have required an privacy impact report on the effects of the act.

The Democratic ringmaster for the “No” votes on the amendments was Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Also voting no were the “senator from NSA” Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the senator from the CIA and co-founder of Capital Cellular Corporation and major investor in NEXTEL Mark Warner (D-VA) [1], the Bilderberg man Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) [2], Kay Hagan (D-NC), Secretary of State-select John Kerry (D-MA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and the outgoing Ben Nelson (D-NE).

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Democracy, Terrorism and the Secret State

The nature, necessity and scope of the miscellany of powers exercised by the state over the nation is in one sense arguably as contentious in the contemporary circumstances of the Western world as it was in the distant pre-democratic medieval past.

In his work Della Ragion di Stato (The Reason of State), which was completed in 1589, the Italian thinker Giovanni Botero argued against the underpinning philosophical amorality espoused by Niccolo Machiavelli in Il Principe (The Prince), a political treatise centred on the ways and methods of the manipulation of the levers of the power by a ruler in an organised state.

The thrust of Machiavelli’s seminal piece was that virtually any action taken by a ruler to preserve and promote the stability and the prosperity of his domain was inherently justifiable. Thus, the employment of violence, murder, deception and cruelty toward achieving these ends were not ignoble in so far as the ends justified the means.

With its implications of a required recourse to illegality and a subtext offering more than a whiff of authoritarianism, this is not a conceptualisation of the modus operandi by which modern Western democratic states are supposed to operate both in terms of their domestic and foreign policy-strategies.

Yet, while the modern state, guided as it is by an ethos encapsulating the rule of law and the respect for human rights, exercises powers which are checked and balanced by a mandated adherence to constitutionality, there are troubling questions and unresolved problems which have been raised by the workings of the intelligence agencies of the executive branch of government.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Bilderberg-picked EU Leader Van Rompuy Calls for Global Governance With Russia

While much of the Christian and post-Christian worlds were busy rushing about in last-minute preparations for Christmas celebrations, an important event took place in Brussels, Belgium, that went largely unnoticed and unreported. Leaders of the European Union and Russia met in Brussels on December 20 and 21 for the 30th EU-Russia Summit, continuing a process of convergence and interdependence that is leading toward political, economic, and social merger.

In his remarks at the conclusion of the summit, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, made repeated reference to progress toward the goal of “global governance,” which has always been code in globalist circles for world government. Van Rompuy stated:

By working together, the EU and Russia can make a decisive contribution to global governance and regional conflict resolution, to global economic governance in the G 8 and G 20, and to a broad range of international and regional issues. I would like to congratulate President Putin for taking over the presidency of G 20.
As we have reported in this magazine many times, the term “global governance” is an intentionally deceptive term, used by political ruling elites because it is more vague and mushy and sounds less threatening than “global government” or “world government.” Hence, there will be less political opposition mounted to “global governance” than “world government.”

“Global governance” came into vogue in the late 1990s, following the publication in 1995 of Our Global Neighborhood, a report of the UN-appointed Commission on Global Governance. That report attempted emphatically to assure readers that they had nothing to fear; they were not proposing world government. It claimed:

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Compare the 1912 Elections with the 2012 Elections

Before the electoral year of 2012 slinks into history, it is worth a comparative glance back to the electoral year of 1912 to give us some jolting perspective on how degraded our contemporary elections, voter performance and election expectations have become.

One hundred years ago, workers were marching, picketing and forming unions. Eugene Debs, the great labor leader and presidential candidate that year, spoke to outdoor labor rallies of 100,000 to 200,000 workers and their families gathered to protest low wages and working conditions.

Farmers were flexing their muscle with vibrant political activity in progressive parties and organizing farm cooperatives, through their granges, and pushing for proper regulation of the banks and railroads.

On the presidential ballot were Republican incumbent William Howard Taft, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, and the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party’s choice former president Theodore Roosevelt. Taft would be repudiated for being far too populist and too critical of corporations by today’s Republican Party. He favored national, not state, charters for “national corporations.”

The Democrats were committed to their platform of 1908 which asked “Shall the people rule? Is the overshadowing issue which manifests itself in all the questions now under discussion.” The context was shaped by the giant corporations (“called the trusts”) and their lobbies in Washington, which had to be curbed. The Supreme Court in 1911 had just ruled to break up the giant Standard Oil trust.

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