Oh, What A Tangled Web We Weave…

The real advantage to telling the truth is that you don’t have to remember what you said. As you get older, that matters. Today The Wall Street Journal posted an story by Kimberley Strassel showing how lies about her emails are becoming a problem for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ms. Strassel notes that nothing Mrs. Clinton has previously stated about her emails has turned out to be true.

The article cites a few problem areas:

The Democratic presidential aspirant on March 10 held a press conference pitched as her first and last word on the revelation that she’d used a private email server while secretary of state. She told reporters that she’d turned over to the State Department “all my emails that could possibly be work-related.” And she insisted that she “did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.”

Both of those statements have been proven to be false. Ms. Strassel points out that as a result the Benghazi probe, Sidney Blumenthal was forced to turn over his emails, which revealed work-related emails that had not been disclosed. Mr. Blumenthal’s emails also revealed that the emails Mrs. Clinton turned over had been altered–work related sentences and paragraphs had been removed.

Since Mrs. Clinton began turning over her emails, some of them have been designated ‘classified.’

The article points out:

We also know that the State Department has now upgraded at least 25 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails to “classified” status. State is suggesting this is no big deal, noting that it is “routine” to upgrade material during the public-disclosure process. But that’s beside the point. This isn’t about after-the-fact disclosure. It’s about security at the time—whether Mrs. Clinton was sending and storing sensitive government information on a hackable private email system. Turns out, she was. For the record, it is a federal crime to “knowingly” house classified information at an “unauthorized location.”

From what we know so far, Mrs. Clinton is guilty of a crime. However, because she is not Richard Nixon and there is no contemporary Woodward or Bernstein who are going to inform the general public as to what is going on, she is not at risk of being held accountable. This is another example of the American media choosing not to do its job. Our nation needs a media that holds our leaders accountable. Right now we don’t have one.

Illogical Foreign Policy

The Kurds have been standing up to ISIS since ISIS decided to do horrible things in the Middle East. All of American aid to Iraq goes directly to the Iraqi troops who have, unfortunately, dropped their weapons and run away, giving ISIS access to some really good weapons technology. For whatever reason, the Obama Administration has consistently insisted that all weapons going to Iraq go through Baghdad to Iraqi troops and not directly to the Kurds (who obviously do not cut and run). Well, it’s even worse than that.

Yesterday the U.K. Telegraph reported that the Obama Administration is blocking the attempts of our Middle Eastern allies to send weapons directly to the Kurds.

The article reports:

Some of America’s closest allies say President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, including David Cameron, are failing to show strategic leadership over the world’s gravest security crisis for decades.

They now say they are willing to “go it alone” in supplying heavy weapons to the Kurds, even if means defying the Iraqi authorities and their American backers, who demand all weapons be channelled through Baghdad.

High level officials from Gulf and other states have told this newspaper that all attempts to persuade Mr Obama of the need to arm the Kurds directly as part of more vigorous plans to take on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) have failed. The Senate voted down one attempt by supporters of the Kurdish cause last month.

The officials say they are looking at new ways to take the fight to Isil without seeking US approval.

I have very mixed emotions about this. First of all, the Gulf states should not need American approval to fight ISIS. They should automatically just do it. However, there is another side of this story. Fighting ISIS strengthens Iran. The only difference between the goals of ISIS and the goals of Iran is who will be in charge of the Islamic Caliphate they want to set up. ISIS and Iran both have plans for a worldwide caliphate which they plan to start in the Middle East. The dispute is over who will rule it and whether it will be Sunni or Shia. Both Iran and ISIS have plans to eliminate Israel, so supporting either one puts the Jewish state at risk. Note also that ISIL stands for “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.” The Levant includes the land of Israel as part of the Islamic state.

The article further reports:

The Peshmerga have been successfully fighting Isil, driving them back from the gates of Erbil and, with the support of Kurds from neighbouring Syria, re-establishing control over parts of Iraq’s north-west.

But they are doing so with a makeshift armoury. Millions of pounds-worth of weapons have been bought by a number of European countries to arm the Kurds, but American commanders, who are overseeing all military operations against Isil, are blocking the arms transfers.

One of the core complaints of the Kurds is that the Iraqi army has abandoned so many weapons in the face of Isil attack, the Peshmerga are fighting modern American weaponry with out-of-date Soviet equipment.

At least one Arab state is understood to be considering arming the Peshmerga directly, despite US opposition.

I think we need to get out of the way and let the Arab states arm the Peshmerga. In terms of the Middle East, lately we seem to have a gift for coming down on the wrong side of history.

Losing Our Rights

The Weekly Standard posted an article today about Aaron and Melissa Klein, who previously ran a bakery called Sweet Cakes by Melissa. The bakery is now closed and shuttered after the State of Oregon fined them  $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding. To add insult to injury, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian added a gag order to the fine, ordering the Kleins “to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of sexual orientation.”

I am hoping that the gag order will be repealed. The fine should also be repealed, but I don’t see much chance of that happening in Oregon. This is another example of what is happening to our First Amendment–the concept of the ‘free exercise of religion‘ has been replaced with the idea of ‘freedom of religion.’ The concept of ‘free exercise’ allows people to practice their religion in the public square. The concept of ‘freedom of religion’ confines religion to the interior of the church. It is hard to be ‘salt and light’ in a society (as mentioned by Jesus) when you are not allowed to express your views in that society.

Looking Past The Obvious

Breitbart.com posted an article today about the June jobs report. Most of the mainstream media is trumpeting the fact that 237,000 jobs were created in June. That is good, but what they fail to mention is that the civilian labor force shrank by 432,000.

The article reports:

The labor force participation rate also decreased 0.3 percent from last month to 62.6 percent.

The country has not seen a labor force participation rate that low since October 1977 when the participation rate was 62.4 percent.

The BLS reports that the civilian labor force also shrank by 432,000 in June, from 157,469,000 in May to 157,037,000 in June.

While people dropped out of the workforce the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) highlighted that the unemployment rate declined to 5.3 percent and payroll jobs increased by 223,000.

The number of people who dropped out of the labor force was higher than the number of jobs created. That is not a good thing.

Civil Forfeiture Has Met Its Match (At Least In Montana And New Mexico)

I have written a number of articles citing cases of civil forfeiture in various states. Generally speaking these are situations where property was taken from Americans without regard to their Constitutional rights. If you type civil forfeiture into the search engine on this site, you can read the various articles. One example was posted in November of last year.

Some states have decided that they are going to protect the property rights of their citizens. Montana and New Mexico have recently passed laws doing that.

Forbes Magazine posted an article on its website today stating:

Earlier this year, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed a law that requires the government to first obtain a criminal conviction before taking and keeping someone’s property through civil forfeiture.  This legislation also shifts the burden of proof onto the government—where it belongs—when spouses, neighbors and other innocent owners try to get back property used by a suspect without their knowledge. Montana’s civil forfeiture reforms are vital to restore due process and protect the property rights of the innocent.

New Mexico went even further and abolished civil forfeiture outright. As in Montana, law enforcement can only forfeit property after a criminal conviction. Crucially, this new law requires that all forfeiture money be deposited in the general fund, preventing it from becoming a police slush fund. Without a single vote cast against it, Gov. Susana Martinez (and a former prosecutor) signed this landmark reform on April 10.

The increase in civil forfeiture cases in recent years is related to the fact that money and property seized can be kept by the police and prosecutors in the civil forfeiture cases.

The article reports:

Speaking at a forfeiture conference, Pete Connelly, then the city attorney for Las Cruces, New Mexico, called civil forfeiture “a gold mine,” and told attendees, “We could be czars. We could own the city.”

…First, lawmakers must remove the profit incentive behind civil forfeiture. Allowing police and prosecutors to keep what they seize has enriched law enforcement at the cost of Americans’ constitutional rights. Since 1985, the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Fund has grown from $27 million to over $2 billion in 2013. Nationwide, more than 500 police departments and task forces have seized the equivalent of 20 percent or more of their yearly budgets. To end this appalling incentive to police for profit, legislators should direct all forfeiture proceeds either to the general fund or to a specified neutral fund, like education.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It shows what can happen when the Constitution is not followed and the average citizen is not paying enough attention to realize what is happening.

Thank you, Montana and New Mexico, for taking the lead on this.

Countering The Move To Push Christians Back Behind The Doors Of Their Churches

If you listen to the debate that took place last week about same-sex marriage, you realize that those who hold a Biblical view of marriage will be protected–as long as they stay within the walls of their churches. Christian business owners who hold that belief will not be protected–the ‘free exercise of religion’ clause in the Constitution has been quietly changed (in the mind of much of the public) to the ‘freedom to believe what you want to believe inside your church.’ There was another recent example of that in our military.

Yesterday the America Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) posted an article on its website about a recent incident in the U.S. Air Force.

The article reports:

Recently, I told you about Major General Craig Olson, USAF, and how he was attacked by the anti-Christian Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and its founder “Mikey” Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein claimed that because General Olson publicly shared that he was a Christian believer who valued prayer and gave God the credit for his successes at a National Day of Prayer event, he should be court martialed. Yes, court martialed for expressing his Christian faith.

To Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF, General Olson’s publicly giving God credit for personal successes crossed the line.  Yet, they were flat wrong, and the Air Force fully agreed with us that “Maj Gen Olson did not violate Air Force policy . . . .”

In response to Mr. Weinstein’s demands that General Olson should be “aggressively and visibly brought to justice for his unforgiveable crimes and transgressions,” the ACLJ took action.

We immediately sent a letter to General Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff, pointing out the outlandish tactics employed by Mr. Weinstein (and the MRFF) when he is offended by the religious sentiments expressed by those with whom he disagrees.

As founder of the Christian Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF),  Mikey Weinstein has fought to keep the Christian faith out of the military. He is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and claims that the Air Force Academy and the military are hostile to Judaism. I have no idea whether or not his claims are true, but he has definitely declared war on letting Christians express their faith. The message the charges sent to General Olson is that he was not legally allowed to talk about his faith–it was okay to be a Christian in the church, but not in the public square.

The article continues with the content of the letter that the ACLJ wrote:

Mr. Weinstein’s allegations that General Olson violated the Establishment Clause is ludicrous on its face. General Olson gave a personal testimony about the importance of prayer in his life. No one was required to do or believe anything. The coercive force of the United States Government was not behind his remarks, and no one was compelled to accede to his beliefs or change theirs. . . .

General Olson’s own words indicated without a doubt that he was giving his personal story. He was not acting as a government official when he made his remarks. Hence, it would be unreasonable for anyone to draw the conclusion that he was “officially” endorsing anything.

The article reports that the Director of the Administrative Law Directorate (Office of the Judge Advocate General), Conrad M. Von Wald, responded with the following:

We have thoroughly reviewed the facts and circumstances involving Maj Gen Olson’s participation at the National Day of Prayer Observance held on May 7, 2015, at the Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC.  Maj Gen Olson did not violate Air Force policy by participating in this Congressionally-supported event.  His remarks were his own personal opinions and did not represent the views of the United States Air Force.

Our military used to allow people of all faiths to express their faith. I think we got along better when people listened instead of deciding to be offended. We were founded as a Christian country with a legal system based on a Judeo-Christian ethic. Unfortunately, we have forgotten that and as a result have wandered down a lot of paths that have damaged our legal system and our nation. We would be a better nation if all of us realized that we were accountable to something bigger than ourselves–regardless of what we believe that something is.

When State And Local Governments Are Totally Out Of Control

Yesterday Cindy Archer posted an article in the Wall Street Journal explaining why she has filed a civil-rights lawsuit against Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

This lawsuit is the result of serious abuses of power by the District Attorney in an effort to intimidate and silence supporters of Scott Walker as Governor. Please follow the link above to read the background on the story. I am going to focus on some of the abuses of power by the District Attorney and his political allies.

Ms. Archer chronicles some of the events:

Nothing could have prepared me for waking up to the shouts of men with battering rams announcing that they were about to break down my door on that morning in 2011. It was so unexpected and frightening that I ran down from my bedroom without clothes on. Panicked by the threatened show of force, I was then humiliated as officers outside the window yelled at me to get dressed and open up. I quickly retrieved clothing and dressed as I unlocked the door.

Agents with weapons drawn swarmed through every part of the house. They barged into the bathroom where my partner was showering. I was told to shut up and sit down. The officers rummaged through drawers, cabinets and closets. Their aggressive assault on my home seemed more appropriate for a dangerous criminal, not a longtime public servant with no criminal history.

After they left, I surveyed the damage. Drawers and closets had been ransacked. My deceased mother’s belongings were strewn across the floor. Neighbors gathered in small clusters at the end of their driveways and the press arrived in force.

What had prompted the raid? My guess: As an adviser to Gov. Walker, I had played a lead role in drafting and implementing public-employee labor reforms that would propel him to the national stage.

No American should be treated this way.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of her ordeal:

In the months following the raid, I was interrogated by the district attorney’s deputies numerous times on a variety of topics related to the governor’s tenure as Milwaukee county executive, but I was never charged with a crime. I faced seven grueling confrontations that seemed designed simply to intimidate and harass me into providing damaging information about Gov. Walker—though I had none.

I have also been subjected to derogatory headlines and made the butt of jokes on talk radio and anti-Walker websites about everything from my personal appearance to my sexual orientation and mental stability. Neighbors became distant and suspicious.

Ms. Archer concludes:

My reputation and career have been damaged beyond repair. But knowing what I now know, there is a clear legal path forward. There should be no place in America where powerful law-enforcement officials are allowed to misuse their offices for political purposes.

American voters need to wake up and see what is happening to our political system. It has been taken over by thugs and bullies who do not care about our representative republic–they care simply about their own power and preserving it. It is time to get out the broom and do a clean sweep of those local, state, and federal officials who do not understand that they are supposed to represent the people and serve at the will of the people.

With A Stroke Of The Pen…

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an article about President Obama’s new Executive Order to change the rules for American workers regarding overtime pay.

The article reports:

Currently, businesses that pay salaried workers less than $455 a week have to pay overtime as well. Obama complains that this threshold has been raised only once since 1975. (He conveniently leaves out the fact that the last increase came during President Bush’sjobless recovery.”)

As a result, he says, too many companies are “skirting basic overtime laws, calling somebody a manager when they’re stocking groceries and getting paid $30,000 a year.”

Obama plans to raise the threshold to $50,400, which he says will make 5 million more workers eligible for time-and-a-half pay.

So let’s take a look at this. If you are working hard, it’s always nice to get a pay raise, particularly if you are putting in a lot of overtime. However, it seems to me that the decision to pay you overtime should be made by the company you work for (since they are going to be required to come up with the money to pay you). If you understand that companies are in business to make a profit (otherwise there is no point in being in business), then you understand that this Executive Order is not going to have the result that President Obama seems to think it will have. The head of a company is now placed in a position where he has to figure out if it is cheaper to pay someone overtime or hire someone part time. He also has to consider if he wants to replace one person who was previously not paid overtime with two part-time people paid less. At any rate, the unintended consequences of this Executive Order are going to hurt workers more than they are going to help them.

Huh????

Yesterday The American Thinker posted an article about a recent decision by the Supreme Court not to hear a case regarding proof of citizenship for voter registration.

The article reports:

In a commonsense decision, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a case that decided that people registering to vote in federal election don’t have to prove their citizenship.  That means that people registering to vote won’t be bullied into proving citizenship, which now seems to be an irrelevant criterion for voting.

“I am very pleased, obviously,” said Dolores Furtado, president of the Kansas chapter of the League of Women Voters. “It’s a good feeling because we’re truly trying to help” people get registered to vote.

Furtado said the league’s main interest is in increasing participation in the democratic process “rather than trying to make more hoops, more steps, to go through.”

It would have been nice if the Supreme Court had ruled on this; however, there is an interesting consequence of this decision that will give Kansas a more honest election on the state and local level.

On Monday, Roll Call posted an article explaining how the decision of the Supreme Court not to take the case would impact elections in Kansas and Arizona.

The article reports:

The Kansas and Arizona laws stand, meaning that people wishing to register to vote with state forms are required to show proof of citizenship. Kobach said more than 99 percent of Kansans use the state forms. “But because of the Supreme Court decision not to review the case,” he added, “we do have a small limited loophole.” The slim majority that uses the federal form can “refuse to provide proof of citizenship,” he said, “but that will only suffice for federal elections.”

Article I Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

Basically that means that each state can set the standard for who is allowed to vote. Obviously, because there is a federal form people can use in Kansas, there is a way of circumventing that law by using the federal form. However, using the federal form only allows people to vote in federal elections. This is another example of the federal government overriding the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

I really wonder who came up with the bright idea that non-citizens would be able to vote in American elections. That is totally ridiculous and seriously undermines the integrity of our election process.

I Am Definitely In The Wrong Business

The chart below is from a Daily Caller article posted this morning. It shows the salaries of the top executives of the ObamaCare state health exchanges:

2013SalariesofTopObamaCare

As you can see, these executives are paid very well for their efforts.

The article reports:

More than a million Americans have enrolled in the 23 non-profit Obamacare co-ops since they began in 2011. The co-ops were intended to be consumer-operated non-profits focused on delivering healthcare to the working poor and others needing health insurance.

Eighteen of the 23 co-ops paid their top executives prodigious salaries ranging from $263,000 to $587,000, according to 2013 IRS tax filings.

The high take-home pay for the “nonprofit” executives appears to violate both federal law and Obamacare rules prohibiting “excessive executive compensation.”

I strongly suggest that you follow the link above to read the entire article, but here are two examples of your tax dollars at work:

The top paid co-op executive was Thomas Policelli, CEO of Massachusetts’ Minuteman Health. He was awarded $587,000 in 2013, according to the co-op’s tax return. Minuteman was also among worst performing Obamacare co-ops, reporting only 1,700 enrollees at the end of 2014.

Minuteman’s cash-burn rate was 53 percent, with a net operating loss of $21 million last year, according to an analysis by Galen’s Turner and Thomas Miller, a senior health fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

In nearby Connecticut, HealthyCT paid Kenneth Lalime $352,000. The co-op reported total enrollment of only 7,966 and suffered operating losses of $28 million. Standard & Poor’s estimated its cash-burn rate at 61 percent.

It is not news that the private sector runs things better than the government. You would think that after all the years that we have seen government waste and inefficiency, we would have learned that lesson by now. Healthcare needs to be part of the free market. There need to be things in place to help people who need assistance in obtaining health insurance because of their financial situation or because of a pre-existing condition, but generally speaking, healthcare needs to operate in a free market environment. It is obvious that ObamaCare has because a government money hole that will eventually provide poor quality healthcare to everyone who is enrolled in it. There is a reason that the Supreme Court, despite their obvious belief that ObamaCare should stand, is not enrolled in ObamaCare.

 

Listening To Judges Only When It Is Convenient

The Washington Times posted an article yesterday about the Obama Administration’s failure to rescind the work permits issued to illegal aliens in violation of a court order. In May I wrote an article about the fact that the Obama Administration had continued to grant work permits to illegal aliens after a judge had issued an injunction against the permits in February halting the President’s amnesty program. There were about 2,000 applications for work permits approved, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not been able to get the three-year permits back. Previously two-year permits had been issued.

The article reports:

But Judge Hanen was shocked to learn that USCIS issued the 2,000 three-year amnesties even after he’d issued his injunction.

“I expect you to resolve the 2,000; I’m shocked that you haven’t,” Judge Hanen (Judge Andrew S. Hanen) told the Justice Department at a hearing last week, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “If they’re not resolved by July 31, I’m going to have to figure out what action to take.”

Homeland Security says it’s changed the duration of the work permits from three years to two years in its computer systems, but getting the cards returned from the illegal immigrants themselves is tougher.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the lawsuit challenging the amnesty and who won the February injunction against the policy, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the outstanding permits.

If I remember correctly, one of the reasons the Judge issued the injunction was that he said that once amnesty was granted, it would be very difficult to undo what had been done. What has happened with the 2,000 work permits that were illegally issued illustrates his point. We are supposed to be a nation of laws–not a nation of men. It would be nice if the Obama Administration would remember that.

Those Pesky E-Mails

Fox News posted an article today about emails from Hillary Clinton that have now surfaced that have been withheld from the Congressional Committees investigating Benghazi.

The article reports:

New documents released by a federal court show President Obama called then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the night of the 2012 Benghazi attack — but the contents are being withheld by the State Department

It had previously been disclosed that Clinton and Obama spoke the night of the terror attacks. But the documents offer additional information about the timing of the call — after the initial attack on the U.S. consulate, but before the second wave where mortars hit the nearby CIA annex and killed former Navy SEALs Ty Woods and Glen Doherty. 

The contents of the call, however, are being withheld, not because the information is classified but because the administration claims they represent internal deliberations about the 2012 terror assault. 

The claim comes as Clinton also faces accusations that she withheld Benghazi-related emails from her private server in the trove of emails handed over to the State Department. 

The article points out that the email in question was discovered as the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Judicial Watch.

The article also reports the political agenda involved in characterizing the attack at Benghazi as a result of a video:

Other emails from Judicial Watch lawsuits have, separately, shown Rhodes (Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes) played a central role in preparing former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice for her Sunday show appearances that weekend where she blamed protests over the Internet video

In that Sept. 14 email, Rhodes specifically draws attention to the video, without distinguishing whether the Benghazi attack was different from protests elsewhere in the region. 

The email lists the following two goals, among others: 

“To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” 

“To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

Thank God for Judicial Watch. It is unfortunate that most Americans will remain totally unaware of any of this and many who are aware will not care about the integrity of a major Presidential candidate.

The Supreme Court Stopped President Obama’s Agenda

The Washington Examiner posted an article today about a Supreme Court ruling announced today. The Supreme Court ruled against Environmental Protection Agency pollution rules for power plants. These new regulations would have resulted in drastic increases in the amount of money Americans pay for electricity.

The article reports:

The EPA rules in question regulate hazardous air pollutants and mercury from coal- and oil-fired power plants, known as the MATS regulations. The regulations went into effect April 16. The utility industry had argued that the rules cost them billions of dollars to comply and that EPA ignored the cost issue in putting the regulations into effect.

“EPA must consider cost — including cost of compliance — before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary. It will be up to the agency to decide (as always, within the limits of reasonable interpretation) how to account for cost,” Scalia wrote in agreeing with the industry.

Because of this decision, the Obama Administration’s environmental agenda will also be looked at in terms of the cost of compliance. Unfortunately, the Court is not looking at the fact that laws are being put in place that have not been passed through Congress.

The article reports on the DC Circuit Court decision that brought the case before the Supreme Court:

The D.C. Circuit majority also agreed the EPA could focus solely on the utilities’ contribution to the pollutants of concern, rather than identifying any specific health hazards attributable only to utility emissions.

The EPA had argued that the rules are both appropriate and necessary regardless of the costs, and that it has the discretion under the law to act as it deems fit in regulating hazardous pollutants.

As I have previously stated, I don’t think anyone is in favor of pollution. There is a need for sensibility in making environmental rules. As previously stated, the EPA did not identify any specific health hazards attributable only to utility emissions.

The EPA has been the latest home for those people who want to control the cost and usage of electricity and other power sources by Americans. This has much more to do with government control than it does with the environment. Unfortunately, we can expect to see more attempted power grabs for government energy control in the waning days of the Obama Administration.

 

The June 30 Deadline For The Iran Talks Will Be Missed

ABC News is reporting that Iran‘s foreign minister is headed home to consult with Iran’s leaders before he returns to Vienna for further negotiations.

PJMedia is also covering the story.

PJMedia reports:

Iranian media said Mohammed Javad Zarif’s trip was planned in advance. Still, the fact that he was leaving the talks so close to the Tuesday deadline reflected his need to get instructions on how to proceed on issues where the sides remain apart — among them how much access Tehran should give to U.N. experts monitoring his country’s compliance to any deal.

ABC News reports:

The United States insists on more intrusive monitoring than Iran is ready to give. With these and other disputes still unresolved, the likelihood that the Tuesday target deadline for an Iran nuclear deal could slip was increasingly growing even before the U.S. confirmation.

The dispute over access surfaced again Sunday, with Iranian Gen. Masoud Jazayeri saying that any inspection by foreigners of Iran’s military centers is prohibited.

He said the attempt by the U.S. and its allies to “obtain Iran’s military information for years … by the pressure of sanctions” will not succeed.

But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who joined the talks Friday, said Iran’s “nuclear activities, no matter where they take place,” must be verifiable.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Zarif met in Vienna for their third encounter since Saturday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also is in Vienna, as is British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, while Russia and China are represented for now by deputy foreign ministers.

The article at PJMedia concludes with the truth:

The real question is how much of a cave-in to Iranian red lines the U.S. will agree to. Not being able to inspect military installations, as Iran insists, would almost certainly lead to widespread opposition not just in the U.S., but also in France, which has threatened to walk from the talks unless there is a strict inspections regime. And the president’s continued insistence that some sanctions on Iran be maintained for years will probably be negotiated away in favor of something approaching immediate lifting of most of the important sanctions on Iran’s financial and oil industries.

The extra time for negotiations won’t matter if it simply means more time for an American surrender. Kerry and Obama will do anything to get a deal and that’s what should worry everyone who thinks this is a bad idea.

Listen To The Words Used

One of the easiest ways to win an argument is to redefine the definitions of the words used. One of the arguments used by the gay community in its search for gay marriage has been that it is a civil right and that to oppose gay marriage is discrimination. Notice that there is no room in that definition for a Bible-based view of marriage or a religious objection. So what is the goal of the militant gay community now that they have achieved the goal of gay marriage? Paul Strand‘s interview of Rea Carey, an American lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activist, shows us the next step. The interview was shown in the first three minutes of CBN’s the 700 Club on Friday.

Paul Strand describes Ms. Carey as a national gay leader who can help stop the targeting of Christian bakers, florists, wedding photographers and such who don’t want to service gay weddings. He asked her if she’d consider a cease fire after the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. He describes her answer as a pretty firm, “No.”

Ms. Carey stated:

“We will continue to do work in the country to make sure that everyone’s right to their own personal beliefs are protected, but that people actually do get to celebrate, that they get to choose who they want around them when they get married, that they get the cake they want, the flower they want, so religion should not be used as a means to discriminate against others, it should be one’s own personal beliefs.”

Take a look at that statement. The LGBT movement will not stop until Christians and others who hold a view supporting traditional marriage are not allowed to practice their beliefs in the public square. Ms. Carey is defining religion as a personal belief that is not permitted in the public square or the business community. Christian beliefs in the public square or the business community are not to be honored. We are losing the free exercise of religion stated in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Is anyone paying attention?

The Vatican Signs A Treaty With Palestine

CBN News is reporting today that the Vatican has signed a treaty with the “State of Palestine.” Just for the record, there is, nor has there ever been, a State of Palestine.

As I have previously posted:

As Walid Shoebat stated, “One day during the 1960s I went to bed a Jordanian Muslim, and when I woke up the next morning, I was informed that I was now a Palestinian Muslim, and that I was no longer a Jordanian Muslim.”

The article reports:

Israel‘s Foreign Ministry called the text of the treaty “one-sided” and expressed regret.

“This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the PA (Palestinian Authority) to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We also regret the one-sided texts in the agreement which ignore the historic rights of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and to the places holy to Judaism in Jerusalem,” it continued.  “Israel cannot accept the unilateral determinations in the agreement which do not take into account Israel’s essential interests and the special historic status of the Jewish people in Jerusalem.”

The article reminds us:

Vatican officials say the document signed Friday reflects the church’s support of a “two-state solution” to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians

No mention was made about Hamas, the terror group which entered into a unity government with the Palestinian Authority and calls in its charter for Israel’s destruction.

Christians are being martyred in the Middle East as we speak, and the Vatican is making treaties with terrorists. One has to wonder if they have lost their way.

 

Recent Quotes From The Supreme Court

There have been some major cases decided by the Supreme Court in recent days. Paul Mirengoff has posted a number of quotes from the Justices in recent blog articles (here and here). The quotes have to do with the Housing Authority Case and the Gay Marriage Case. In each case, Mr. Mirengoff states that he feels that the Justices were not fully aware of the unintended consequences of their rulings.

In Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Mr. Mirengoff points out that both sides of the ruling were aware of the possible consequences.

Justice Alito stated:

No one wants to live in a rat’s nest. Yet in Gallagher v. Magner, 619 F. 3d 823 (2010), a case that we agreed to review several Terms ago, the Eighth Circuit held that the Fair Housing Act (or FHA) could
be used to attack St. Paul, Minnesota’s efforts to combat “rodent infestation” and other violations of the city’s housing code. The court agreed that there was no basis to “infer discriminatory intent” on the part of St. Paul.

Even so, it concluded that the city’s “aggressive enforcement of the Housing Code” was actionable
because making landlords respond to “rodent infestation, missing dead-bolt locks, inadequate sanitation facilities, inadequate heat, inoperable smoke detectors, broken or missing doors,” and the like increased the price of rent. Since minorities were statistically more likely to fall into “the bottom bracket for household adjusted median family income,” they were disproportionately affected by those rent increases, i.e., there was a “disparate impact.” Id., at 834.

The upshot was that even St. Paul’s good-faith attempt to ensure minimally acceptable housing for its poorest residents could not ward off a disparate impact lawsuit.

Today, the Court embraces the same theory that drove the decision in Magner. This is a serious mistake. The Fair Housing Act does not create disparate-impact liability, nor do this Court’s precedents. And today’s decision will have unfortunate consequences for local government,
private enterprise, and those living in poverty. Something has gone badly awry when a city can’t even make slumlords kill rats without fear of a lawsuit.

Makes sense.

Justice Kennedy also saw the risk in the decision:

Without adequate safeguards at the prima facie stage, disparate-impact liability might cause race to be used and considered in a pervasive way and “would almost inexorably lead” governmental or
private entities to use “numerical quotas,” and serious constitutional questions then could arise.

The litigation at issue here provides an example. From the standpoint of determining advantage or disadvantage to racial minorities, it seems difficult to say as a general matter that a decision to build low-income housing in a blighted inner-city neighborhood instead of a suburb is discriminatory, or vice versa.

If those sorts of judgments are subject to challenge without adequate safeguards, then there is a danger that potential defendants may adopt racial quotas—a circumstance that itself raises serious constitutional concerns.

Somehow we have substituted the concept of equal outcome for equal rights.

In the gay marriage decision, there are serious questions as to whether the rights of Bible-believing Christians will be abandoned in favor of the new definition of marriage.

Justice Kennedy writes:

Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.

Justice Roberts wrote:

The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage.

There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

It is my belief that in the future, when people who hold a Biblical view of marriage attempt to freely exercise their religion in the public square or their place of business, that freedom is going to be taken away from them, particularly in the area of a Biblical view of marriage. This happened in Massachusetts after the courts ruled that gay marriage was legal–the Catholic adoption agencies were forced to close down because adopting a child to a same-sex couple was against their religious belief. We may see that happen all over the country as a result of this ruling. I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think I am.

The Right Answer To The Wrong Decision

The Hill reported yesterday that Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) has introduced a bill into the House of Representatives that would require the Supreme Court Justices to participate in ObamaCare. I agree with that, but while we are at it, let’s include Congress and the President.

The article reports:

Babin’s potential legislation would only let the federal government provide healthcare to the Supreme Court and its staff via ObamaCare exchanges.

“By eliminating their exemption from ObamaCare, they will see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with,” he added.

His move follows the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday morning that upheld the subsidies under ObamaCare that are provided by the government to offset the cost of buying insurance.

All government officials and employees should be required to live under the laws they pass and uphold. We have had enough of ‘one law for me and one law for thee.’

 

Reversing A Bad Decision

This statement was released yesterday. It is an illustration of what happens when Americans pay attention and get involved. The Washington establishment Republicans were attempting to discipline the conservative wing of the party. The uproar from the grass roots resulted in a rethinking of that decision. Ordinary Americans can make a difference–they just have to speak out when they see something they believe is wrong.

Joint Statement on Meadows’ Reinstatement as Chair of Government Operations

Jun 25, 2015
| Press Release

WASHINGTON—House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) jointly issued the following statements regarding the chairmanship of the Government Operations Subcommittee.

“Last week I announced a change in the Government Operations sub-committee chairmanship. A number of people have asked me to reconsider that decision. Having spoken with Mark Meadows several times during the past week, I think we both better understand each other. I respect Mark and his approach. The discussions and candor have been healthy and productive. Ultimately, I believe we both want to do what is best for the country. Obviously I believe in Mark Meadows or I would not have appointed him to this position in the first place. It is in the best interest of the Committee to move forward together. Therefore, I have asked Mark to continue in his role as sub-committee Chairman,” said Chairman Chaffetz.

“I greatly appreciate Chairman Jason Chaffetz’ willingness to reconsider his decision, as well as my Oversight and Government Reform Committee colleagues’ support. I will continue to vote and conduct myself in accordance with my conscience, what my constituents want me to do, and what is best for the country. I look forward to continuing my work as Subcommittee Chairman of Government Operations under the leadership of the Oversight Committee Chairman. I know we are both dedicated to conducting real and meaningful oversight for the American people,” said Congressman Meadows.

Buried In The Story Is The Cause For The Change

Channel 5 in Boston posted an article today about the fact that the number of great white sharks off Massachusetts shores is rising.

The article states:

The resurgence of the gray seal population has driven the increase in white shark sightings here.

White sharks in excess of 9 to 10 to feet switch their diet to larger prey: seals, sea lions and scavenged whale carcasses,” said Skomal.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act passed by the U.S. and Canada in 1972 helped bring back the gray seals, whose numbers in the Gulf of Maine to Massachusetts are estimated at between 300,000 and 400,000, with a major nesting area for seal pups on Muskeget Island between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, said Skomal.

About 2,000 pups were born on Muskeget in 2008, four times the rate in 1999.

Last September in Cape Cod waters, Skomal’s team filmed a white shark feeding on a freshly killed seal. The video shared Wednesday night depicted a bloody and violent scene.

The italics are mine. I don’t have anything against gray seals, I wish them well; however, when man decides to change the rules for one part of the animal population, he invariably impacts another part. Sharks have to eat, too.

You can bet that some pseudo-scientist will come along very quickly and blame the increased number of sharks on global warming. That’s just the way things work these days.

Where Has Our Freedom Gone?

James O’Keefe is a name many people are familiar with. He exposed ACORN by posing as a pimp with a supposed underage prostitute. He exposed voter fraud in a number of states, and generally he has been a continuing thorn in the side of the Obama Administration. Under normal circumstances that would not be a problem, but evidently free speech in America is truly under attack.

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article about James O’keefe’s latest adventures with U.S. Customs Agents in the airport in Nassau, Bahamas en route to Miami.

The article at The Daily Caller includes the entire dialogue with the customs agent as Mr. O’Keefe remembers it. I strongly suggest that you follow the link above and read the entire article, but here are a few highlights:

James: That was the one where I legally waded into the Rio Grande dressed like Osama bin Laden and embarrassed the federal government. DHS secretary was grilled under oath. Are you telling me this is retaliation for that?

Customs: I’m telling you that each time you go through here you will need to give an extra hour because we will do this each time. You have a prior criminal record and broke the law crossing into the United States unlawfully.

James: It wasn’t unlawful, I did nothing but wade back and forth. Millions of Mexicans cross and you don’t detain them for unlawful entry

Customs: You broke the law!

James: I broke the law? I’m a journalist who is trying to expose something important. Deep down in your heart when you set the burocreacy aside you have admit it needed to be exposed.

Customs: Come with me.

If only we were that conscientious with the illegals crossing into the United States illegally.

This Is Truly A Sad Day For America

The Supreme Court today chose to rewrite ObamaCare rather than do its duty as a court and rule on the case at hand.

CBS News is reporting:

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

The justices said in a 6-3 ruling that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive to make insurance affordable do not depend on where they live, under the 2010 health care law.

The outcome is the second major victory for Obama in politically charged Supreme Court tests of his most significant domestic achievement.

Chief Justice John Roberts again voted with his liberal colleagues in support of the law. Roberts also was the key vote to uphold the law in 2012. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a dissenter in 2012, was part of the majority on Thursday.

The National Journal is reporting:

The decision, Scalia wrote, “rewrites the law.”

We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” he wrote.

He continued: “Rather than rewriting the law under the pretense of interpreting it, the Court should have left it to Congress to decide what to do about the Act’s limitation of tax credits to state Exchanges, Scalia wrote.

Scalia took issue with the majority’s interpretation of the language of the Affordable Care Act. The law states that in order for people to qualify for health care subsidies, they need to be “enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State.” The majority upheld that by “state,” the law intended to mean individual state exchanges or exchanges set up by the federal government. If the Court had ruled the other way, more than 6 million people would have been at risk of losing their coverage. Their ruling rejects a lawsuit that aimed to gut federal health-care subsidies for people in 34 states.

“The Secretary of Health and Human Services is not a State,” Scalia wrote. (The majority argued that gutting the subsidies for the state exchanges would result in a “death spiral” for the market places and that “It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner. “)

It is not the duty of the Supreme Court to write law. The Supreme Court can only examine legislature to see if it aligns with the U.S. Constitution. This right of review was established in 1803 with the Marbury v.. Madison case–it was not written into the original U.S. Constitution. although the concept was mentioned in Federalist No. 78:

It is far more rational to suppose, that the courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature, in order, among other things, to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority. The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.

In the case of King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court rewrote the law and exceeded its authority. We have reached the point in America where the U.S. Constitution is no longer the law of the land. Unless the American people begin to pay attention to what is happening and take action (an Article V Convention of States is looking really good right now), we will lose our representative republic.

The Only Reason I Would Even Remotely Consider Air Conditioning Evil

I appreciate air conditioning–particularly after moving to North Carolina. However, there is one area where I have a sightly different view of air conditioning. The biggest mistake America ever made was air conditioning Congress. Had we allowed our Congressmen and Senators to sweat it out in the former swamp that is now Washington, D.C., we would probably have been a lot better off. They would have gone back to their districts in the summer and might have done a better job of staying in tune with their constituents.

Michelle Malkin  also posted some comments on the subject at CNS News:

Perhaps the head of the Catholic Church, who condemned “the increasing use and power of air-conditioning” last week in a market-bashing encyclical, is unaware of the pioneering private company that has donated its time, energy and innovative heating, ventilating and air-conditioning equipment to the Vatican‘s most famous edifice for more than a decade.

That’s right. While the pontiff sanctimoniously attacks “those who are obsessed with maximizing profits,” Carrier Corporation — a $13 billion for-profit company with 43,000 employees worldwide (now a unit of U.S.-based United Technologies Corp.) — ensures that the air in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel stays clean and cool.

Has the Pope considered the benefits of air conditioning to people with asthma and allergies–the fact that it filters out pollen and can limit the number of mold spores coming into the house?

Just for the record, industrialized countries have not destroyed the planet–most industrialized countries have made an effort to control pollution and improve the environment. That is the result of having the money available to do those things–as a result of their industrialization.

The Pope is a spiritual leader. Air conditioning is a little out of his area. Until he is willing to give up his air conditioning, speaking against air conditioning seems a little over the top.