Surprise! NSA Broke the Rules
“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” –James Madison
Surprise! NSA Broke the Rules
The National Security Agency is under fire once again after an internal audit revealed that it broke privacy rules or exceeded its legal authority thousands of times each year since 2008. According to The Washington Post, “Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order.” There were 2,776 such incidents at the NSA’s Fort Meade headquarters alone in the 12 months preceding the May 2012 audit, which, among other things, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked to the media.
In one instance, the NSA mistakenly intercepted a “large number” of phone calls originating in Washington because a “programming error” substituted U.S. area code 202 for 20, Egypt’s international dialing code. The NSA opted not to report this allegedly unintended surveillance of Americans and generally considers “incidental” surveillance not noteworthy. Likewise, the NSA instructs personnel to be as vague and generic as possible when describing any incident it does bother reporting.
Just last week, Barack Obama insisted, “[W]hat you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs.” Obviously, his press conference feigning the desire for NSA “reform” was pre-emptive because he knew the Post was about to publish another inconvenient report.
We also recall Obama’s other tone-deaf remarks: “[I]f you are the ordinary person and you start seeing a bunch of headlines saying, ‘U.S.-Big Brother looking down on you, collecting telephone records, et cetera,’ well, understandably, people would be concerned. I would be, too, if I wasn’t inside the government.” Effective anti-terror measures are clearly needed to maintain national security – after all, al-Qaida is alive and well – but the people should be concerned that our government prove trustworthy.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Holder’s Real ‘Prison Population Reduction’ Agenda
In the Obama administration’s latest unconstitutional end run, Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that he would restrict federal prosecution of drug cases. In some cases, this might mean withholding evidence in order to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders. However, federal authorities rarely prosecute minor drug cases, the vast majority of which are handled by state and local prosecutors. This means Holder’s proposals will have little effect on the prison population – his stated desire. In effect, Holder is ordering federal prosecutors to refrain from prosecuting cases they currently don’t prosecute.
So what’s Holder’s real agenda? Well, as with every policy or regulation implemented by the Obama administration, the objective is to build political constituencies. In this case, he’s milking charges of systematic racism for political gain. Since 1980, the U.S. population has increased about 30%, while the prison population has increased by an astounding 800%. More to the point, while black Americans are 12% of the U.S. population, more than 40% of the incarcerated population is black.
Holder says, “[L]et’s be honest. Some of the enforcement priorities we have set have had a destabilizing effect on particular communities, largely poor and of color.” Translation: Holder is throwing a bone to an important Obama constituency – drug dealers and users, and all their voting relatives. No doubt mandatory minimum sentencing – which was indeed a bad idea – plays a large role, but far more important is cultural degradation on the Democrats' inner city poverty plantations. And skirting the law solves neither.
Income Redistribution: Obama’s Taxing Proposal
Barack Obama is proposing to expand high-speed Internet access to 99 percent of America’s schools within the next five years. Sounds great, right? Well, he wants to fund “ConnectEd” by raising the cell phone user tax by $4 per year, implemented by the Federal Communications Commission. The Constitution mandates that Congress alone has the power to levy or raise taxes. Congress created this particular tax in 1996, but Obama plans to sidestep the legislative branch in order to hit Americans' wallets even harder. By ignoring Congress and instead using the FCC – a majority of whose commissioners are Obama appointees – the administration is once again thumbing its nose at our system of constitutional checks and balances. But not to worry – it’s for the children.
The Washington Post called the move “a case study in how Obama is trying to accomplish a second-term legacy despite Republican opposition in Congress.” The Post quoted White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors, who said, “It’s got a lot of the characteristics of big-vision policy that you really don’t get through legislation anymore.” That’s just the problem with Obama: He doesn’t let little things like needing legislation – or for that matter enforcing the law – get in the way of his agenda. There’s no telling what the president will impose next in order to continue his vision of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
From Gag to Gag Order
It started out as a bit to get some cheap laughs – a rodeo clown dressed in an Obama mask and an announcer asking the crowd if it wanted “Obama run down by a bull.” But the act at the Missouri State Fair has blown up into a national travesty, one which an Obama spokesman (and Missouri native) bemoaned was “certainly not one of the finer moments in our state.” Missouri’s governor, Democrat Jay Nixon, called the incident “disrespectful and offensive,” a politically correct sentiment echoed by his Republican lieutenant governor.
While, by most accounts, the crowd took the skit for the humor intended, thin-skinned leftists took a much more severe attitude toward the rodeo. The rodeo clown portraying Obama was banned for life from the state fair; meanwhile, the Missouri NAACP said the incident “warrant(s) a full review by both the Secret Service and the Justice Department.” One Missouri NAACP official called it a “hate crime.” Those were some of the milder reactions.
Yet those with cooler heads (and a sense of humor) pointed out the hypocrisy of the Left. They were silent when, as Michelle Malkin noted, images of George W. Bush being assassinated were all the rage. Rush Limbaugh characterized the fallout as “no different than [the] irrational reaction to the Mohammed cartoons.” Indeed, the Left’s prophet was slandered.
When it comes to free speech, Barack Obama and his sycophants don’t seem to have an understanding that it doesn’t just apply to those words and organs with which they agree. In the end, the skit portrayed Obama as having enough sense to run from the bull, so why not take that advice in real life?
Columnist Charles Krauthammer: “The point is whether a president, charged with faithfully executing the laws that Congress enacts, may create, ignore, suspend and/or amend the law at will. Presidents are arguably permitted to refuse to enforce laws they consider unconstitutional… But presidents are forbidden from doing so for reason of mere policy… Such gross executive usurpation disdains the Constitution. It mocks the separation of powers. And most consequentially, it introduces a fatal instability into law itself. If the law is not what is plainly written, but is whatever the president and his agents decide, what’s left of the law? What’s the point of the whole legislative process – of crafting various provisions through give-and-take negotiation – if you cannot rely on the fixity of the final product, on the assurance that the provisions bargained for by both sides will be carried out? … Yet this president is not only untroubled by what he’s doing, but open and rather proud. As he tells cheering crowds on his never-ending campaign-style tours: I am going to do X – and I’m not going to wait for Congress. That’s caudillo talk. That’s banana republic stuff. In this country, the president is required to win the consent of Congress first. At stake is not some constitutional curlicue. At stake is whether the laws are the law. And whether presidents get to write their own.”
Faith and Family
Columnist Terence Jeffrey: “Obamacare attacks the liberty and financial viability of the traditional family, and nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the system of federal subsidies it puts in place starting next year. … For a household earning an adjusted gross income between 100 percent and 133 percent of FPL [the Federal Poverty Level], Obamacare caps their health insurance premiums at 2 percent of annual income. That cap incrementally increases as a household’s income increases, peaking at 9.5 percent for households earning between 300 percent and 400 percent of FPL. … But if a household earns as little as one dollar over 400 percent of FPL, the household no longer qualifies for a subsidy, and there is no longer a cap on the percentage of income they can be forced to pay for health insurance. Married couples seeking the subsidy are required to file joint tax returns and whether their premiums are capped or not is determined by the couple’s combined income. … Obamacare will penalize [newlyweds] $8,173 for having the audacity to take out a marriage license.”
For the Record
Columnist Conn Carroll: “[Marco] Rubio [says] that if Republicans don’t give Obama a legally enacted amnesty now, they won’t get things they want on immigration, like new border security spending and E-verify. But those security measures will never happen under Obama, law or no law. … [D]oes anyone on the planet really think that the same administration that will not enforce the employer mandate in its own signature health care law would ever enforce the E-Verify employer mandate it never wanted in the first place? Worse, Rubio’s immigration bill is chock full of brand new grants of power to the executive branch. … The reality is that there is no legal basis for Obama’s existing amnesty program or his planned expansion of it. If anything, passing an amnesty bill now would only bailout Obama’s existing lawlessness on the issue, and encourage future selective enforcement of the law to pressure conservatives on other issues. Conservatives should be looking for the best way to fight Obama’s lawlessness in Court, not enable it in Congress.”
For more, visit The Right Opinion.
National Review’s Stanley Kurtz: “There were never any true liberals in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood was never moderate. The revolts were driven by economic failure, not a craving for democracy. Democracy failed because nobody in Egypt truly understood or wanted it to begin with. … Play out scenarios of a ‘democratic transition’ in Egypt in any serious way and you will see that the solution America’s right-thinking establishment is working toward in Egypt is no solution at all. … What we ought to be doing now is tending to America’s key interests and giving up ill-founded fantasies of liberal democracy in a still thoroughly illiberal region.”
Barack Obama inadvertently assessed his failed economic policies: “We’ve still got too many people out of work, and too many long-term unemployed.”
CNN’s Piers Morgan: “I don’t want to see all the women in America armed with guns. Because unfortunately where there are guns … there is a much higher incidence of suicide with guns, of domestic violence with guns, and so on. … Virginia … actually has the highest murder rate in the country. According to 2009 statistics by the FBI.”
For the record, Mr. Morgan is profoundly wrong.
From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File
Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker: “I think we’ve got the evidence that men being in charge now for a good long while haven’t been able to achieve the desired end. … So it seems as al Qaeda is back on the rise and women are becoming a global economic force that there’s no one better suited to sort of lead that movement symbolically and as leader of the free world than Hillary Clinton.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger: “Strap some conservative-thinking people to a tailpipe for an hour and then they will agree it’s a pollutant!”
This is a rich remark from the former California governor, given that he commuted to work every day by private jet.
Comedian Argus Hamilton: “Michelle Obama will appear in a rap video that urges minorities to eat well and start exercising by using a bouncy hip-hop song. It’s not for everybody. In a clumsy attempt to expand his appeal, Joe Biden just released a hip-hop album called Plain White Wrapper.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team