Unfortunately, President Obama Still Has Enough Time To Do Some Damage

On Thursday, The Washington Times reported that President Obama has appointed Debo Adegbile, a former attorney to Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing a policeman, to a six-year post on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The article reminds us:

Mr. Adegbile worked at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund when he represented Abu-Jamal in the appeal of his conviction and death sentence for the notorious 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal’s sentence was reduced to life in prison.

The case prompted the Senate to reject Mr. Adegbile’s nomination in 2014 when Mr. Obama appointed him to lead the Justice Department’s office on civil rights. Some Democrats joined Republicans in voting down the selection at that time.

Liberals praised the latest nomination. The Center for American Progress cited Mr. Adegbile’s “work on employment, housing discrimination, criminal justice and voting rights.”

This is another example of how far left the Democratic party has moved. In 2014, it was unacceptable to confirm Mr. Adegbile’s nomination as head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. Now the appointment of Mr. Adegbile is being praised (note that he is being appointed to a position that does not require confirmation).

Are We Losing Our Religious Freedom?

Yesterday Fox News reported the story of Eric Walsh, a lay minister in Georgia. The State of Georgia has asked that Dr. Walsh turn over copies of his sermons.

The article reports:

“Please produce a copy of your sermon notes and/or transcripts,” Attorney General Samuel Olens wrote to attorneys representing Dr. Eric Walsh.

…Walsh, a Seventh-day Adventist lay minister had been hired in May 2014 by as a District Health Director with the Georgia Department of Public Health. A week later, a government official asked him to submit copies of his sermons for review. He complied and two days later he was fired.

His attorneys said the government was curious about sermons Dr. Walsh delivered on health, marriage, sexuality, world religions, science and creationism. He also preached on what the Bible says regarding homosexuality.

He has since filed a federal lawsuit charging state officials with engaging in religious discrimination.

“He was fired for something he said in a sermon,” attorney Jeremy Dys told me. “If the government is allowed to fire someone over what he said in his sermons, they can come after any of us for our beliefs on anything.”

Dr. Walsh has assembled a powerhouse legal team comprised of Parks, Chesin & Walbert along with First Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s most prominent religious liberty law firms.

“It’s an incredible intrusion on the sanctity of the pulpit,” Dys said. “This is probably the most invasive reach into the pulpit by the state that I’ve ever seen.”

The First Amendment applies to churches. The government has no right to examine or control what is preached from America‘s pulpits. Although separation of church and state is not part of the Constitution (the concept is based on a letter from Thomas Jefferson), the Constitution states that the government does not have the right to interfere with the free exercise of religion.

This is not the first time a pastor has been asked to submit his sermons to the government. About two years ago I posted an article about a similar request in Texas.

These requests are unconstitutional. We need to make sure that they are not allowed to stand.

 

Letting The 3.4 Percent Rule

There is an attempt being made by 3.4 percent of Americans to control the actions of the other 96.6 percent Americans. No–I am not talking about the wealthy–I am talking about the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) community. I have no objection to members of that community being whoever or whatever they choose to be, but I do object when they try to impose their lifestyle on the majority of Americans. Most Americans are tolerant, but that doesn’t mean we have to condone something we believe is wrong. That battle recently came to a head in North Carolina when the City of Charlotte (in violation of the home rule provisions of the North Carolina Constitution) declared all restrooms (and locker rooms) open to whatever sex the occupant considered themselves. Aside from the problems with the law itself, only the North Carolina legislature has the power to write a law that impacts public buildings in the state. The legislature then passed a law requiring people to use the restroom (or locker room) corresponding to the sex they were at birth. Some companies and organizations have chosen not to do business in North Carolina because of this law, known as HB2. Meanwhile, many of those companies and organizations continue to do business in countries that execute homosexuals in cruel ways.

Breitbart posted a story on the continuing controversy on Wednesday.

The article reminds us:

GOP leaders in North Carolina are pushing back twice as hard against the Democrat-led alliance of business, gay and transgender advocacy groups which is now trying to damage the state’s economy in the run-up to the November gubernatorial election. 

…GOP leaders have been trying to finesse this transgender issue, because voters strongly oppose the transgender push while business leaders are pleading for an end to the Democrat-organized economic war against the state’s business community. But Gov. Pat McCrory and his deputies have now decided to go on the offensive against the far-reaching and unpopular transgender agenda, which would gradually stigmatize and outlaw the public’s recognition that the two sexes — men and women, boys and girls — want a civic society that supports their equal and different preferences. 

The problem here is not the LGBT community itself–it does not represent a danger to anyone. The problem is that there are disturbed people who will take advantage of an all-access law for their own nefarious purposes. I have no doubt that there would be abuses of the all-access law, particularly at the high school level. Do you really want the high school football team in your daughter’s high school locker room? Most Americans think that would be a really bad idea. Separate facilities for transgender students would easily solve the problem.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association issued a statement by Franklin Graham.

Here are some highlights from that statement:

The ACC website proudly features Toyota as an “Official Corporate Champion,” yet Toyota maintains factories and distribution centers in several of these discriminatory countries, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Egypt. Where is the moral outrage of the presidents of Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, UNC, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest?

Indeed, the ACC’s member schools compete in 25 sports divided by gender—12 men’s sports and 13 women’s. Though gender issues may be becoming more complicated in higher education and other parts of society, the athletic conference you serve as commissioner doesn’t seem to have any problem distinguishing between the two genders—male and female. Yet, when a state like the one I live in seeks to make the same distinction with regard to use of public bathrooms in an effort to protect its citizens from those who would use the men’s room today and the women’s room tomorrow, the academic elites who comprise your conference fake a moral outrage that is frankly shameful.

Ironically, the NCAA is more discriminatory towards transgender people than the public policy they apparently wish to see as law in America. For example, opponents to legislation like NC House Bill 2 support permitting people to use the bathroom which corresponds to the sex they identify with on a given day—meaning someone might feel like a man today and a woman tomorrow, switching bathrooms at will.

Yet even the NCAA doesn’t allow such casual gender identity for participation in collegiate athletics. The NCAA Policy on Transgender Student-Athlete Participation states, “Any transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatment related to gender transition may participate in sex-separated sports activities in accordance with his or her assigned birth gender.” This is precisely what supporters of HB 2 have been requesting—that people use public restrooms in accordance with their assigned birth gender.

I think I represent the views of millions who would rather preserve gender-specific public bathrooms—a mainstay for generations—than to attend a football game in my state to determine the champion of a conference governed by politically-correct, morally hypocritical academics.

Mr. Graham concludes:

Commissioner Swofford, you maintain your conference’s decision is “one of principle” and that “core values…are of utmost importance.” Well, millions of us who oppose your decision do so as a matter of principle and core values—values of privacy, safety and protection of our sons and daughters in public restrooms, and the principle that God created just two genders and assigned them at birth.

Please don’t make political pawns of student-athletes who just want to play football or basketball in North Carolina, and don’t continue to offend millions of Americans who endorse thousands of years of gender-specific bathrooms while you continue to accept corporate sponsorship money from companies proudly conducting their business in countries that discriminate against homosexuals to the point of death.

We need to be tolerant, but we need to protect our citizens and our children also. It is possible to do both of these.

 

The Consequences Of Letting Everyone In The Same Bathroom

The bathroom bill (should be locker room bill) passed in North Carolina has caused a lot of controversy. This article is based on two articles, one posted at CBN News today and one posted at Lady Liberty 1885.

The article at Lady Liberty 1885 includes the following video (also posted on YouTube):

As the video points out, women need a safe space to change clothes or go to the bathroom. I can’t imagine thinking parents wanting their teenage daughters to share locker rooms with teenage boys.

There has been another interesting example of the fallout of this law.

CBN News is reporting today:

A former state executive director of the ACLU has resigned because her own daughters were frightened when transgendered men entered the women’s bathroom.

The American Civil Liberties Union has been a champion of transgender bathroom rights. Former director of the Georgia ACLU chapter Maya Dillard Smith says she is resigned after her daughters’ experience in a public bathroom.

“I have shared my personal experience of having taken my elementary school age daughters into a women’s restroom when shortly after three transgender young adults, over six-feet tall with deep voices, entered,” Smith wrote in a statement.

“My children were visibly frightened, concerned about their safety and left asking lots of questions for which I, like many parents, was ill-prepared to answer,” she continued.

She also said the incident highlighted the ALCU‘s “hierarchy of rights.”

She wrote in a statement that the ACLU is “a special interest organization that promotes not all, but certain progressive rights….based on who is funding the organization’s lobbying activities.”

Transgender people constitute a very small percentage of our population. They deserve to be respected and not bullied, but their desires should not be used to put the safety of other Americans in jeopardy. The transgenders themselves are not the issue–it’s the people who will use the issue for their own nefarious purposes.

 

Why Abortion Laws Matter

The American Center for Law and Justice posted an article today about Indiana’s new law about abortion. I am going to post most of the article because it is so beautifully stated.

The article states:

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky joined with the ACLU to sue the state of Indiana over a recent law passed to prohibit abortions based only on the unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down Syndrome.

Claiming that the bill places an undue burden on women seeking an abortion and violates patients’ privacy rights, Planned Parenthood is once again challenging a common sense state law intended to protect the health and safety of women and children. Why? Because abortion is how Planned Parenthood makes money, even if that means standing up for the targeted and systematic elimination of innocent children with disabilities like Down Syndrome.

Governor Pence released the following statement:

I believe that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable—the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn. HEA 1337 will ensure the dignified final treatment of the unborn and prohibits abortions that are based only on the unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down syndrome.

Some of my most precious moments as Governor have been with families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome. These Hoosiers never fail to inspire me with their compassion and these special children never fail to move me with their love and joy.

By enacting this legislation, we take an important step in protecting the unborn, while still providing an exception for the life of the mother. I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families.

The article includes the following story:

I’m proud of Governor Pence and the representatives in Indiana. When he talks about families of children with disabilities, he’s talking about families like mine.

My sister, Mary Rose, was born in the late summer of 1989, exactly six weeks before I turned three. Months after she was born, it became clear that Mary was special – different from normal babies. While the diagnoses, tests, and many in the world would assess that Mary is ‘mildly to moderately retarded,’ ‘developmentally delayed/disabled,’ or ‘slower than normal kids,’ it is clear to anyone who encounters Mary that she was a gift from God, placed on earth to teach us all the true definition of unconditional love.

Although Mary doesn’t have Down Syndrome, many of her closest friends do. Others, including Mary, have similar genetic abnormalities that cause developmental delays. Although national research isn’t comprehensive, many studies reveal that somewhere between 80 and 95% of unborn babies with a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome are aborted.

More than 4 in 5 unborn babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are murdered simply because they have an extra chromosome. These children are never given the chance to show the world just how much potential they have.

Some mothers who are pressured to abort their child with Down Syndrome have refused, and the hearts of their communities are forever changed once their child is born.

But more often than not, those lives are lost forever. My heart breaks every time I hear these statistics because I know just how incredible these children are. I’m an example of a life forever changed because of their lives. I know from first hand experience just how much the world is losing every time a child is aborted because they have a disability.

Mary is the perfect example of this. Though not being academically “smart,” she’s more insightful and emotionally intuitive than most people I know. Though Mary may never discover a world-changing innovation, she is never forgotten by all who encounter her. Mary has a zest for life rooted in her ability to appreciate every person and opportunity that comes her way, and her inability to focus on tedious, superfluous details. She reminds us all of the childlike faith we once had.

Mary and her extraordinary friends have shaped the man I am today. Because of Mary, I always speak up for the underdog, squirming when I feel someone is unrightfully judging me or someone else. Because of Mary, I try to look past first judgments and impressions, and empathize with people I meet and situations I encounter. Because of Mary, I thirst for justice and appreciation of all human beings, no matter how diverse or different. Because of Mary, I recognize the incredible ways that the Lord uses His children whom the world labels as “slow”, “useless”, or “not viable” to show us His unfailing and unconditional love.

And because of Mary, I’m thankful for Gov. Pence and other leaders around the country who fight for laws to protect those with disabilities – to give them protection under the law.

When Planned Parenthood and its abortion allies sue to stop these laws, we all must realize they’re suing to end lives like those of Mary and her friends.

They think they’re on the right side of history. I wish they’d meet Mary so they know how very wrong they are.

This is the reason we need to take the profit out of the abortion industry. Abortion is a multi-million dollar industry, and because of the money involved, the industry wields a tremendous amount of political clout. All of us need to back up and think about what the abortion industry is about and whether or not we want the government to support it. It is time for all of us to rethink all of our abortion laws and move to make abortion something that is only done when absolutely necessary. We also need to reach out to those women who have had abortions and help them deal with the scars.

 

Upholding Religious Freedom

I don’t have to agree with your religion, but I don’t have the right to infringe on your practice of it. There are exceptions–if your religion requires you to kill non-believers, that is against the law in America, and you are not free to do that. However, in matters that are legal, the First Amendment protects your right to follow your religion whether or not I or anyone else agrees with it!

On Thursday, The Guardian posted an article about a California judge who upheld the First Amendment. The article includes information that might cause you to question his decision, but the fact remains that under the law he did what was right.

The article reports:

A San Francisco judge on Thursday refused to order a Catholic hospital to allow an obstetrician to use its facility to sterilize a woman just after the birth of her third child.

In denying the American Civil Liberties Union’s emergency request, superior court judge Ernest Goldsmith recognized the right of a Catholic hospital to adhere to its ethical and religious dictates.

“The religious beliefs reflected in their operation are not to be interfered with by courts,” Goldsmith said during an hour-long hearing in San Francisco. “There’s no law that says that hospitals are mandated to perform sterilizations.”

The case, brought by the ACLU, spotlights increasing tension over women’s rights to contraceptive healthcare in Catholic institutions.

Note–it is a Catholic institution. The article claims that this was the only hospital within 70 miles of the woman’s home. Admittedly, this would have been the ideal medical time to have the procedure done, and she is inconvenienced by this decision, but she does have other options in the future. A tubal ligation is simple surgery and I am sure she can find a hospital willing to do it.

The article further reports:

Goldsmith ruled that the ACLU is unlikely to win its discrimination case because the hospital’s sterilization policy applies equally to men and women. The judge also found that Chamorro could have the elective procedure in another hospital. In addition, he found insufficient evidence that the hospital allowed other tubal ligations solely for contraceptive purposes.

The ACLU challenged the use of religious directives to deny tubal ligations in a lawsuit it filed last month on behalf of Chamorro and Physicians for Reproductive Health, a nonprofit, and against the hospital and its parent, Dignity Health of San Francisco – California’s largest hospital provider. The suit alleges sex discrimination because the prohibition against sterilization disproportionately impacts women. The ACLU also contends that the hospital arbitrarily allowed some women to have the common surgical procedure while refusing it to others.

The hospital is within its First Amendment rights. The law is clear. The judge upheld the law. That is what he is supposed to do.

The article reports:

The hospital’s policy says: “Tubal ligation or other procedures that induce sterility for the purpose of contraception are not acceptable in Catholic moral teaching even when performed with the intent of avoiding further medical problems associated with a future pregnancy.”

The Catholic Church is entitled to practice its teaching.

Why Voter Identification Matters

The Daily Signal posted an article on Friday about voter fraud. It is an issue in America.

This is the list the article includes of some recent incidents:

 

  • In McAllen, Texas, two campaign workers (known as politiqueras in local parlance) who bribed voters with cocaine, beer, cigarettes and cash during a 2012 school board election have been sentenced separately to serve eight and four months in prison, respectively. U.S. District Court Judge Randy Crane called this election fraud “terrible” and said that “our country requires that our voting process be clear and free of fraud for democracy to work … it’s dangerous for this to occur without consequence.”
  • A couple in Le Sueur, Minn., was charged with felony voter registration fraud for lying about where they lived so they could vote in a school bond referendum in another town.
  • A woman in Dothan, Ala., was sentenced to six months in prison for her part in a voter fraud scheme that got a city commissioner re-elected. She was the second of the four people charged to have been found guilty of voter fraud in the case, which may have involved more than 100 absentee ballots.
  • Bronx politician Hector Ramirez has been arrested after a 242-count grand jury indictment charged him with a massive voter fraud scheme that involved tricking voters into letting Ramirez and his staff illegally vote their absentee ballots. The local prosecutor told the New York Daily News that Ramirez, who lost two prior tries at a state assembly seat, “made a decision that he was not going to lose, under any circumstance.”
  • A state appeals court upheld a ruling voiding a 2013 commission election in Weslaco, Texas, in which dozens of illegal votes were cast in an election won by only 16 votes. The illegal votes included individuals falsely claiming to reside in the city and improper “assistance” that told voters who to vote for—a great example of how even a small amount of fraud can make a difference in close elections.
  • In Philadelphia, the setting of the infamous 2008 New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, four local election officials have been charged with casting multiple votes in the city’s 18th Ward in a precinct in which three of them didn’t even live and were not registered to vote. This case illustrates the importance of poll watchers, because it was a local poll watcher who saw what happened and brought it to the attention of the district attorney’s office. This is the same district attorney, Democrat Seth Williams, who indicted two Democratic state legislators last year for accepting bribes in exchange for voting against a voter ID bill after the Pennsylvania attorney general, Kathleen Kane, also a Democrat, refused to prosecute the case.
  • On May 7, the Board of Immigration Appeals of the Executive Office for Immigration Review held that a Peruvian citizen who illegally registered and voted could be deported for violating federal law. Margarita Del Pilar became a permanent legal resident of the U.S. in 2004. She promptly applied for an Illinois driver’s license and registered to vote at the same time, then cast a ballot in the 2006 congressional election. When she applied for naturalization in 2007, she admitted in the INS interview that she had voted in an American election. Of course, if she had not applied to become a citizen, she could have continued to illegally vote with almost no chance of being detected.

Unfortunately, people who are not citizens are voting in American elections. That is the problem that the sudden influx of illegal aliens will create in the 2016 election. If an illegal alien has a driver’s license, he can illegally register to vote by simply stating that he is an American. This is a serious danger to the integrity of the American election process.

The article also suggests one solution to the problem of non-citizens voting in elections:

One recommendation I have made to state legislatures is to implement legislation that requires court clerks to notify state election officials when individuals called for jury duty are excused because they are not U.S. citizens. Courts get their jury lists from voter registration rolls, and it is a requirement that those who register to vote affirm under oath they are U.S. citizens. Individuals called for jury duty also have to affirm, again under oath, that they are U.S. citizens. And yet in a 2005 study, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 3 percent of the 30,000 individuals called for jury duty from voter registration rolls over a two-year period in just one U.S. district court were not U.S. citizens.

The Virginia legislature recently passed a common-sense election reform bill (HB 1315), which would have required county jury commissioners to provide local election officials with the names of individuals called for jury duty who turned out to not be U.S. citizens. Local registrars could then remove those illegally registered voters and provide information to local law enforcement and the U.S. Justice Department for investigation and possible prosecution.

Unfortunately, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed this bill. Considering the political history of Governor McAuliffe, that is not a surprise.

 

It’s A Little Late To Discover This

The Sun Journal in New Bern, North Carolina,(no link–current article available only to subscribers) posted an article today about a state audit of voters in North Carolina that indicates that hundreds of people on North Carolina voter rolls aren’t U.S. citizens — and are ineligible to vote.

The article states:

The State Board of Elections said in a news release late Friday that it found 1,425 registered voters who are likely non-citizens in an analysis of data from the state Division of Motor Vehicles and the federal Department of Homeland Security.   

The announcement comes less than two weeks before an Election Day that features the close race between Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and her Republican challenger Thom Tillis. The contest will help determine which party controls the Senate.   

“We are working to ensure that no ballot cast by a noncitizen will count in this or any future election,” Kim Westbrook, the board’s executive director, said in a statement.   

The board is preparing instructions for local elections officials to challenge ballots under a process that would give the voters a chance to prove their citizenship. The board says it’s a crime for a noncitizen to register or vote.

The article further reported:

On Friday, a coalition of voting rights groups expressed concern about the audit in a letter to state elections officials. It cited laws regarding maintenance of voting rolls and urged caution when comparing voter rolls to data from the DMV and federal immigration officials.

 The letter was signed by Project Vote, Demos, Fair Elections Legal Network, American Civil Liberties Union, NALEO Educational Fund, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and Action NC.

 “Our organizations are deeply concerned about maintaining access to the polls for all of North Carolina’s voters in keeping with the requirements of the NVRA,” the letter said, referring to the National Voter Registration Act.

There are requirements in the NVRA that voter lists be periodically audited and purged of people who have died, moved out of an area, or for some reason are ineligible to vote. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice under Eric Holder chose not to enforce these laws.

Judicial Watch is an organization that has worked tirelessly in recent years to ensure the integrity of the vote in America. Their latest victory has been in Indiana, where 700,000 voters were moved to “inactive status” as a result of a May 2014 statewide mailing to all registered voters. This mailing was the result of efforts by Judicial Watch and True the Vote. They had been advocating in court for two years to get this mailing to take place. Statistically, nearly 1 in 5 Indiana voter registrations are for people who have moved and no longer live at the address associated with that voter’s outdated registration. That is a scary statistic.

Protecting North Carolina Voters

Tonight the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association held a public meeting in the Stanly Hall Ballroom in New Bern to discuss the voter law recently passed in North Carolina. The speakers were Susan Myric of Civitas, Meloni Wray, Director of Craven County Elections, and Gary Clemmons, Chairman of the Craven County Board of Elections.

H.B. 589, the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA), aka the Voter Identification Bill, is the first comprehensive change to North Carolina election law in decades. H.B. 589 passed the North Carolina House of Representatives in April of 2013. In July the North Carolina Senate amended H.B. 589 and passed it. The bill then went back to the House of Representatives. The bill was ratified on July 26, and the Governor signed it on August 12. The ACLU, NAACP, and various other organizations promptly filed lawsuits against the bill, with Eric Holder later filing a suit against the State of North Carolina.

The lawsuits filed are objecting to the change in early voting–from 17 days to 10 days, the end of same day voter registration, and the end of out-of-precinct voting. There will be a hearing on September 25 in Charlotte regarding the change in the voting law.

Under the new law, voters must register to vote by October 10, 2014. This gives the Board of Elections the opportunity to verify the address of the voter. Under the new law, voters will be required to vote at their correct precinct based on their address as of 30 days prior to Election Day. In 2016, voters will be required to show an acceptable photo ID. In 2014 all voters will be asked if he or she has one of the acceptable ID’s for the purpose of voting. A list of acceptable photo ID will be provided for review at the polling location. Instructions will be given to voters without acceptable ID on how to obtain a no-fee photo ID from the NCDMV.

The request for photo ID when voting is not unreasonable. We live in a society where photo ID is required for many activities–purchasing cigarettes or liquor, to board an airplane, to cash a check, to receive government benefits, etc. It also makes sense to have voters register to vote in time for their addresses to be verified.

Hopefully, the Court will uphold this law, as it ensures that every vote counts by attempting to eliminate voter fraud.

Government Overreach Is Getting So Bad That The ACLU Is On The Same Side As Many Conservatives

Wired Magazine posted an article on Tuesday which illustrates how the government is interfering with the rights of American citizens. Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a request with the Sarasota, Florida, police department for information detailing its use of a surveillance tool known as stingray. Federal authorities then seized the documents before the police department could release them.

The article reports:

The ACLU had an appointment last Tuesday to review documents pertaining to a case investigated by a Sarasota police detective. But marshals swooped in at the last minute to grab the records, claiming they belong to the U.S. Marshals Service and barring the police from releasing them.

ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler called the move “truly extraordinary and beyond the worst transparency violations” the group has seen regarding documents detailing police use of the technology.

“This is consistent with what we’ve seen around the country with federal agencies trying to meddle with public requests for stingray information,” Wessler said, noting that federal authorities have in other cases invoked the Homeland Security Act to prevent the release of such records. “The feds are working very hard to block any release of this information to the public.”

Stingrays, also known as IMSI catchers, simulate a cellphone tower and trick nearby mobile devices into connecting with them, thereby revealing their location. A stingray can see and record a device’s unique ID number and traffic data, as well as information that points to its location. By moving a stingray around, authorities can triangulate a device’s location with greater precision than is possible using data obtained from a carrier’s fixed tower location.

The issue here is the fact that a police detective obtained permission to use a stingray by filing a ‘tap and trace’ request rather than a probable-cause warrant.

The article further reports:

The government has long asserted it doesn’t need a probable-cause warrant to use stingrays because the device doesn’t collect the content of phone calls and text messages, but instead operates like pen-registers and trap-and-traces, collecting the equivalent of header information. The ACLU and others argue that the devices are more invasive than a trap-and-trace.

Recently, the Tallahassee police department revealed it had used stingrays at least 200 times since 2010 without telling any judge because the device’s manufacturer made the police department sign a non-disclosure agreement that police claim prevented them from disclosing use of the device to the courts.

The ACLU has filed numerous records requests with police departments around the country in an effort to uncover how often the devices are used and how often courts are told about them.

I definitely agree with the ACLU on this. I have no problem with the use of stingrays when probable-cause warrants are obtained, but without those warrants, the use of stingrays is simply another intrusion into the civil rights of Americans by the government. As Americans, all of us need to be aware of when our rights are being threatened, and we need to learn to fight back.

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Confusing The Issue By Adding Facts

There have been a lot of charges made lately by Democrats that Republicans want to suppress the black vote by passing voter identification laws. There is no mention of the fact that you need a driver’s license or such to enter a federal building, board a plane, case a check, etc., but that’s another story. But occasionally, when charging people with racism, inconvenient facts get in the way.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted a story today showing that when Georgia became the first state in the nation to enact voter identification laws, the black and Hispanic voter turnout increased. From 2006 to 2010, voting by black and Hispanic voters increased dramatically, outpacing population growth for those groups over the same period.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also posted an article today dealing with the same subject.

The The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article reports:

Under Georgia’s law, an in-person voter who arrives at the polls without a photo ID may cast a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot is counted only if the person returns with proper identification by the Friday following the election.

Records show that since 2008, 2,244 provisional ballots were cast by voters lacking photo ID. Of those, 658 returned with an ID and 1,586 did not — meaning their votes did not count.

That disturbs Laughlin McDonald, director of the Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the original plaintiffs who challenged the law.

“If one person is deprived of their right to see their vote count, that’s a violation of the Constitution,” McDonald said.

I guess I have become a little cynical of late, but I am not thoroughly convinced that the 1,586 voters who chose not to return with identification were legal voters. Just a thought.

There is no way to prove that voter fraud was stopped by voter identification laws. However, we can show that the laws do not suppress votes. In terms of stopping fraud, one blatant example of voter fraud was found in Houston, Texas, by a group called True the Vote. (See rightwinggranny.com) When True the Vote examined the voters registered by a group called Houston Votes, a voter registration group headed by Sean Caddle, who had previously worked for the  Service Employees International Union (SEIU), they found that only 1,793 of the 25,000 registrations the group submitted appeared to be valid. I don’t know if 23,000 votes is enough to change the outcome of an election, but this clearly seems to be an example of voter fraud.

Anyway, hooray for voter identification laws–the keep our elections honest!

 

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It Scares Me When I Agree With The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

This is a map from the ACLU:

The map describes the shaded area as the Constitution-Free Zone in the United States. So what is this about?

The ACLU Website posted a fact sheet on these zones which states:

  • Normally under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the American people are not generally subject to random and arbitrary stops and searches. 
  • The border, however, has always been an exception.  There, the longstanding view is that the normal rules do not apply.  For example the authorities do not need a warrant or probable cause to conduct a “routine search.” 
  • But what is “the border”?  According to the government, it  is a 100-mile wide strip that wraps around the “external boundary” of the United States. 
  • As a result of this claimed authority, individuals who are far away from the border, American citizens traveling from one place in America to another, are being stopped and harassed in ways that our Constitution does not permit.
  • Border Patrol has been setting up checkpoints inland — on highways in states such as California, Texas and Arizona, and at ferry terminals in Washington State. Typically, the agents ask drivers and passengers about their citizenship.  Unfortunately, our courts so far have permitted these kinds of checkpoints – legally speaking, they are “administrative” stops that are permitted only for the specific purpose of protecting the nation’s borders.  They cannot become general drug-search or other law enforcement efforts. 
  • However, these stops by Border Patrol agents are not remaining confined to that border security purpose.  On the roads of California and elsewhere in the nation – places far removed from the actual border – agents are stopping, interrogating, and searching Americans on an everyday basis with absolutely no suspicion of wrongdoing.
  • The bottom line is that the extraordinary authorities that the government possesses at the border are spilling into regular American streets.

This is disturbing.

The article also states:

This trend is also typical of the Bush Administration’s dragnet approach to law enforcement and national security.  Instead of intelligent, competent, targeted efforts to stop terrorism, illegal immigration, and other crimes, what we have been seeing in area after area is an approach that turns us all into suspects. This approach seeks to sift through the entire U.S. population in the hopes of encountering the rare individual whom the authorities have a legitimate interest in.

The article concludes:

If the current generation of Americans does not challenge this creeping (and sometimes galloping) expansion of federal powers over the individual through the rationale of “border protection,” we are not doing our part to keep alive the rights and freedoms that we inherited, and will soon find that we have lost some or all of their right to go about their business, and travel around inside their own country, without interference from the authorities.

Notice that the date on this is 2008. As far as I know, the Obama Administration has continued the policies of the Bush Administration in this area and added other forms of surveillance as well. Where is the update on this concern?

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Dangers In The New Immigration Bill

The immigration bill under discussion in Congress supports a program called eVerify that is supposed to allow employers to make sure that the people they are hiring are in America legally. That sounds like a great idea, but there are some serious problems with the system. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has put out a paper on the problems with eVerify. Although I agree with their premise that the program will have problems, I also believe that some form of the program will be necessary.

We are talking about letting millions of previously illegal immigrants enter the workplace and marketplace in America. We need a way of making sure that those people will be honest, hardworking people simply looking for a better life. We need to know about criminal activity, gang activity, prior legal problems, etc. We will need some sort of system to verify that our new citizens are who they say they are and that they want to be a positive part of America.

However, there are some serious problems with the law. On Thursday, CNN posted a story about how the immigration law as it stands would hurt Americans looking for jobs.

CNN reports:

Buried in the comprehensive immigration reform legislation before the Senate are obscure provisions that impose on Americans expansive national identification systems, tied to electronic verification schemes. Under the guise of “reform,” these trample fundamental rights and freedoms.

Requirements in Senate Bill 744 for mandatory worker IDs and electronic verification remove the right of citizens to take employment and “give” it back as a privilege only when proper proof is presented and the government agrees. Such systems are inimical to a free society and are costly to the economy and treasury.

Any citizen wanting to take a job would face the regulation that his or her digitized high-resolution passport or driver’s license photo be collected and stored centrally in a Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services database.

The pictures in the national database would then need to be matched against the job applicant’s government-issued “enhanced” ID card, using a Homeland Security-mandated facial-recognition “photo tool.” Only when those systems worked perfectly could the new hire take the job.

Again, some system is needed to make sure the person applying for a job is who he (or she) says he (she) is. However, this sounds more than a little intrusive to me.

The article further reports:

In short, S. 744 gets around states’ repeated rejections of national identification systems by lumping E-Verify and Real ID into overly comprehensive national identification (rather than immigration) “reform.” S. 744’s provisions also mandate collection of the details about almost every American, an enumeration task the Constitution authorizes only to the census every 10 years, and then only under a 72-year guarantee of confidentiality.

We need to ask ourselves, “Is a national identification system appropriate in a free society?” Meanwhile, S.744 does secure the border before legalizing millions of people we have allowed to be here illegally–where are our priorities?

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Looking For Your Keys Under The Streetlight

There is an old joke about a man who was walking around under a streetlight as if he was searching for something. When asked what he was doing, he explained that he had lost his car keys on the other side of the street. When further questioned, he explained that he was looking for them under the streetlight because the light was better. That is the only way I can even begin to explain the logic behind the following story.

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted a story about spying on American citizens. The government’s justification for the increased spying on Americans is that it is needed because of the terrorism threat. That almost makes sense–but there seems to be a gap between the purpose of the spying and its actual execution.

The article at Investor’s Business Daily reports:

Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.

Who makes up this body, and how do they decide requests? Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret.

We do know the panel was set up under pressure from Islamist groups who complained about FBI stings at mosques. Just months before the panel’s formation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations teamed up with the ACLU to sue the FBI for allegedly violating the civil rights of Muslims in Los Angeles by hiring an undercover agent to infiltrate and monitor mosques there.

So it’s okay to violate the rights of average Americans, but not okay to violate the rights of Muslims? We really need to take a closer look at how this happened.

The article further reports:

One of the Muslim bombers made extremist outbursts during worship, yet because the mosque wasn’t monitored, red flags didn’t go off inside the FBI about his increasing radicalization before the attacks.

This is particularly disturbing in light of recent independent surveys of American mosques, which reveal some 80% of them preach violent jihad or distribute violent literature to worshippers.

The more I learn about the surveillance programs currently in place, the more I am convinced that these programs have more to do with politics than national security.

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Establishing Our Rights Through The Courts

The courts were not meant to be the all-powerful entity they have morphed into, but as long as the courts have assumed that role, we ought to be able to use them to protect our rights as citizens. A number of organizations have figured this out.

Yesterday the Daily Caller reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) have filed a lawsuit against the government calling for the end of the NSA domestic phone surveillance program. The lawsuit, ACLU v Clapper, argues that the surveillance program is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and exceeds the Patriot Act. The article states that both the ACLU and NYCLU were customers of Verizon Business Network Services, which had been required to hand over on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ domestic phone records by a routinely renewed order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The article reports:

A class action suit already in place against the U.S. government for the NSA’s routine collection is expected to be amended Wednesday to include the Internet companies alleged to have partnered with the NSA regarding a secret Internet surveillance program, reported U.S. News & World Report.

The accused Internet companies — AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk, Skype, Yahoo! and YouTube — have all denied any knowledge or  the program.

I don’t have a problem with monitoring calls from and to Americans from out of the country, but it does seem a bit much to put all Americans under telephone surveillance.

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A Move Toward Honest Elections

Fox News is reporting today that a Wisconsin appeals court has upheld a law requiring voters to show a photo ID when voting.

However, as the article reports, we are not out of the woods yet:

Republican lawmakers passed voter photo ID requirements two years ago, saying the move was needed to combat election fraud. The league wasn’t the only group that challenged the law. The immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera and the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court, winning a permanent injunction blocking it. That injunction still stands, although the state Justice Department has asked the 2nd District Court of Appeals to review the case.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens have filed separate lawsuits challenging the law in federal court. Those suits are still pending.

The article further reports:

One of the chief authors of the voter ID law, Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale, began circulating a new bill last week that would let poor people opt out. That bill is aimed at allaying concerns that requirements in the original bill are too burdensome.

The law requires voters to show either a state-issued ID card, valid driver’s license, U.S. passport, a student ID that expires within two years or a military ID.

I am not impressed by the claim that obtaining a photo ID would be burdensome for some people. You need photo ID for a lot of things today, and a state program to provide photo ID’s for residents would actually help the residents. You can’t buy cigarettes or alcoholic beverages without an ID, you can’t get a book from the library without an ID, you can’t board a plane without an ID, and if you drive, your license is your ID. Having a photo ID is not a bad thing.

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Our Legal System Turned Upside Down

CBN News reported yesterday that 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago has struck down an Indiana law that bars sex offenders from using social networking websites.

The article reports:

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on behalf of sex offenders, including a man who served three years for child exploitation.

Supporters of the law have stated that they will work to put together a new law that will get past the Court of Appeals. It should be noted that the law did not forbid sex offenders from using the Internet–the restriction was only only on the use of social networking websites. The question here is, “Are we willing to protect our children from people who have already shown that they prey on children?”

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Doesn’t Anyone Have Any Common Sense ?

Yesterday’s Providence Journal reported that a mother who is a single parent contacted the ACLU because her daughter was not able to attend a father-daughter dance the school was having. The Cranston School Department has now banned traditional “father-daughter” and “mother-son” activities, saying they violate state law.

The article reports:

Supt. Judith Lundsten said the move was triggered by a letter ifrom the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a single mom who had complained that her daughter had not been able to attend her father-daughter dance.

Lundsten said school attorneys found while federal Title IX legislation banning gender discrimination gives an exemption for “father-son” and “mother-daughter” events, Rhode Island law doesn’t.

This is the place where common sense would be useful. One of my daughters is a military wife. When her daughter’s school had a father-daughter dance at a time when my son-in-law was in Afghanistan, another father who was going with his daughter simply stepped in and added my granddaughter to his family for the night. I think rather than rain on everyone else’s parade, the answer would be to find a male friend willing to stand in for the night. Why did this single parent feel the need to spoil the fun for the other children and parents?

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This Really Isn’t A Victory

Yahoo News reported yesterday that a federal judge has cleared to way for the cross in the Mojave Desert to be restored.

The article reports:

A federal judge approved the lawsuit settlement on Monday, permitting the park service to turn over a remote hilltop area known as Sunrise Rock to a Veteran of Foreign Wars post in Barstow and the Veterans Home of California-Barstow.

The park will give up the acre of land in exchange for five acres of donated property elsewhere in the 1.6 million acre preserve in Southern California.

The swap, which could be completed by the end of the year, will permit veterans to restore a cross to the site and end a controversy that became tangled in the thorny issues of patriotism and religion and made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003.

Think about this for a minute. France has graveyards of American soldiers marked with crosses to honor those who died. What has happened to America?

The article reports the history of the cross in the Mojave:

Wanda Sandoz said a wooden cross was first erected on Sunrise Rock in 1934 by a World War I veteran, Riley Bembry. He and other shell-shocked vets had gone out to the desert to recover and would hold barbeques and barn dances near the site, she said.

Her husband knew Bembry and promised the dying vet that he would look after the cross, Wanda Sandoz said. He kept the promise for decades.

“We love the cross,” she said. “It’s in a beautiful spot. … My husband is not a veteran but he feels like this is something he can do for our country.”

The wooden cross was eventually replaced with one made of steel pipes. However, the site became part of the national preserve in 1994 and that meant the cross was then on public land.

The settlement involves a lawsuit filed in 2001 by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a retired park service employee who argued that the Christian religious symbol was unconstitutionally located on government land. Federal courts ordered the removal of the cross.

Does this mean that whenever you see a cross by the side of the highway to mark the spot where someone was killed, you should sue someone to have it removed? I am sorry that the ACLU chose to be offended by this cross, but there is nothing in the Constitution that protects Americans from being offended. The cross as a symbol to honor those who sacrificed their lives for America is a tradition more than a religious item. It’s time for everyone to just relax.

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Closing Down A Government-Funded Religious School

Scott Johnson at Power Line reported today on the closing down of the Tarek ibn Ziyad (TiZA) Academy K-8 public charter school in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. The school was originally sponsored by Islamic Relief USA.

According to the article:

The school was housed in a building that was owned by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. The study of Arabic was required at the school. The Arabic came in handy for the Koranic studies that follow the regular school day.

Star Tribune reporter Katherine Kersten charged that the school was a religious school operating with public funds. After her columns were published, the Minnesota American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) investigated and sued the school and the Minnesota Department of Education.

The article further reports:

As a result of its failure to find a sponsor as required by state law, TiZA failed to open this fall. The ACLU’s case against TiZA nevertheless remains. Despite the blasé media reports on the settlements with the Department of Education and Islamic Relief USA, the ACLU Minnesota obviously obtained some highly interesting evidence in the case. The “stipulation of facts” underlying the settlement has now been approved by the court and unsealed. The ACLU Minnesota has posted relevant documents here.

Thanks to the work of Katherine Kersten, the Star Tribune has owned this story. Yet it cannot have been a pleasant experience for her to have worked on the story while inside an organization that would sooner have served as TiZA’s public relations arm than investigator or whistleblower. In its pathetic editorial postmortem on TiZA, the Star Tribune jumped straight to the ACLU lawsuit without including in its chronology the fact that one of its own writers broke the story. By contrast, the ACLU Minnesota acknowledged Kersten’s role in uncovering the scandal from the outset of the lawsuit. Wouldn’t a genuine newspaper want to tout its key role in the events? Why is this story different from any other story?

Please follow the link to Power Line to read the entire story. There were problems with the school from the start. When the case was finally brought by the ACLU, the school charged anti-Muslim bigotry in an attempt to intimidate the investigators. The article points out that one of the weapons used by the Muslims when they are challenged to obey American laws is to charge bigotry against Muslims. The laws of America should apply to all of us equally, and they should be enforced equally. We need to remember that when dealing with any group that is looking for special privileges.

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