The Patriot Post® · Daily Digest
“A State, I cheerfully admit, is the noblest work of Man: But Man, himself, free and honest, is, I speak as to this world, the noblest work of God.” –James Wilson, Chisholm v. Georgia, 1793
TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
Rep. Trey Gowdy’s House committee re-investigating the attack on the Benghazi consulate subpoenaed Hillary Clinton Wednesday for her emails about Libya during her time as secretary of state. Turns out, Clinton had been operating her own email account based on a server she set up in her New York home – and this gives her control of what information she releases. “I want the public to see my email,” Clinton tweeted last night. “I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.” But here’s the kicker: Because Clinton herself controls the emails, the State Department can only release the emails she gives it, according to State spokeswoman Marie Harf. This runs afoul of every ideal of free and open government, as well as the law. Sen. Chuck Grassley said, “The trend of using private email for public business is detrimental to good government. The public’s business ought to be public with few exceptions.” Clinton promises transparency, though there is no way to verify that she is disclosing everything. And the fact she navigated the creation of a home-based email service that permanently deletes emails shows she is determined to be anything but. More…
When Hillary Clinton set up a private email in her New York home, she invited the full brunt of Chinese and Russian cyber intelligence upon herself. The National Security Agency – whose first duty is to actually provide cyber security – was not protecting her account as it does with government email accounts. Her email also did not have Google or Yahoo security teams protecting it from hackers. Lead technologist for the ACLU Chris Soghoian told Wired Magazine, “Although the American people didn’t know about [Hillary’s email account], it’s almost certain that foreign intelligence agencies did, just as the NSA knows which Indian and Spanish officials use Gmail and Yahoo accounts. She’s not the first official to use private email and not the last. But there are serious security issue associated with these kinds of services.” Furthermore, Clinton’s team did not set up her encryption software correctly, akin to leaving home with an unlocked screen door to keep intruders out. When asked by a reporter if those emails contained classified information, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf replied, “I don’t think it’s really a pertinent question.” More…
Barack Obama’s veto pen is strong. The Senate failed by five votes Wednesday to override Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline. Even though eight Democrats voted with Republicans, the proposal only got 62 votes. Republicans say this is not the end to the pipeline, though. The bill’s author, Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), said, “If we don’t win the battle today, we will win the war, because we will attach it to another piece of legislation.” Already, Republicans are planning to attach a Keystone proposal to a transportation-funding bill that Congress must pass by May 31. If that fails, then lawmakers will attempt to tack Keystone to an energy bill later. This strategy may set up fights like the failed fight to defund Obama in his executive actions granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. It should at least be entertaining. More…
The trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – the co-conspirator of the Boston Marathon Bombing – began in Boston Wednesday with his defense attorney admitting, “It was him.” In the coming days of trial, defense attorney Judy Clarke will argue before the jury that Tsarnaev doesn’t deserve the death penalty for his hand in planting two IEDs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon nearly two years ago. It was Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, who became obsessed with jihad and pressured his brother “by his age, their culture and Tamerlan’s sheer force of personality” into committing an act of terror. Clarke told the court, “It was Tamerlan Tsarnaev who self-radicalized. It was Dzhokhar who followed.” That’s the pivotal question, as that will determine what Tsarnaev’s punishment will be. More…
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a Senate appropriations subcommittee Tuesday that the IRS just needs a little fiscal help to enforce ObamaCare. As in an additional $490.4 million in the next fiscal year. “This additional funding, the majority of which is for required information technology upgrades, will allow the IRS to increase efforts to ensure compliance with a number of tax-related provisions of the ACA, including the premium tax credit and individual shared responsibility provision,” Koskinen said. “The funding will provide enhanced technology infrastructure and applications support, and allow necessary, major modifications to existing IRS tax administration systems.” The timing is almost amusing, given that the Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday regarding subsidies on the federal exchange. Surely the IRS doesn’t need another half a billion dollars to correctly read the statute? More…
For more, visit Right Hooks.
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As headlines tuned to her majesty’s secret email servers and the Senate’s failure to override Barack Obama’s Keystone veto, the Supreme Court Wednesday considered oral arguments in a case that could potentially unravel the disaster known as the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare.
The case, King v. Burwell, challenges the legality of federal health insurance subsidies for individuals in states that have not set up health insurance exchanges. It’s a case built on solid ground. The law specifically declares – nine times to be exact – that subsidies are available only through exchanges “established by the state.” Yet 36 states opted not to establish an exchange or have discontinued their exchange. So, the IRS issued regulations declaring subsidies are available in these states, in direct violation of the wording in the ACA.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., who argued on behalf of the administration, said interpreting the law as the plaintiffs argue would “revoke the administration’s promise” to give Americans affordable health care and noted, “That cannot be the statute Congress intended.”
Barack Obama didn’t worry himself with revoking his promises about keeping insurance plans or doctors. Why worry about subsidies?
Furthermore, now-disgraced ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber disagrees. He famously said in 2012, “If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits – but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill.” Of course, what truly matters is not what Gruber or Verrilli believe but what the law says.
As Justice Antonin Scalia noted, “It may not be the statute Congress intended, but it may be the statute Congress wrote.”
The decision will likely hinge on the votes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. Justice Roberts said very little during arguments and gave virtually no indication of how he would vote. But his was the tiebreaking vote upholding ObamaCare’s individual mandate in 2012, and he rewrote the law to do so – all in some sort of effort to protect the Court from appearing “political.”
Unlike Roberts, Kennedy was more vocal Wednesday, and his questions may hint at sympathy for the administration’s position. For example, he said the plaintiffs’ argument – that the law requires states to create an exchange as a condition for receiving tax credits – could raise “a serious constitutional question,” as it would mean the law tells states, “Either you create your own exchange, or send your insurance market into a death spiral.” In other words, the law would challenge state sovereignty through federal coercion.
Yes, that’s exactly what Democrats intended.
Ironically, the constitutional question is one the administration is trying to use in its favor. Knowing Kennedy’s strong support for constitutional federalism, Verrilli actually claimed, “Our reading is the pro-federalism ruling.”
For the administration to trample the Constitution underfoot for six years and then raise it as a banner is disingenuous and outrageous, but savvy. Verrilli hopes to convince Kennedy that the administration is not challenging state sovereignty; hence, the subsidies could not be contingent on states setting up their own exchanges. The administration is ridiculously asserting Kennedy would betray his federalist inclinations if he supports an interpretation of the law that could be seen as coercing states.
Of course, such coercion is hardly new; the federal government regularly uses coercion to implement federal policy throughout the states. Just think of Medicaid, education regulations, and so on.
Beyond questions of federalism, the true issue here is Rule of Law. As John Daniel Davidson, director of the Center for Health Care Policy for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, notes, “The only question that matters in King is whether the administration used the IRS to rewrite a law Congress passed.”
For a president so at ease with overriding Congress, Obama is surprisingly averse to admit he did just that with his own legislation. With Congress unwilling to reign in a lawless executive, however, the Court will now decide whether law has any meaning or if, to paraphrase former Chief Justice Charles Evan Hughes, it means only what the judges say it means.
As expected, the Justice Department released its report on endemic racism in the Ferguson Police Department, determining that blacks were treated unfairly in “nearly every aspect of Ferguson’s law enforcement system.” The DOJ’s findings were virtually a foregone conclusion. Attorney General Eric Holder and his merry band set out to find racism among white cops and, lo and behold, their witch hunt was successful. But, if some of the findings are indeed true, it’s hard to say there isn’t a real problem in Ferguson.
For purely partisan reasons, Holder and his boss, Barack Obama, launched a national campaign to throw municipal, county and state law enforcement officers under the bus – the same cops they frequently use as photo-op props.
Holder said the DOJ’s findings explain why a black man’s death at the hands of a white police officer “set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg.” Perhaps that’s partly true, especially if the perception among the populace is that the police are out to get them, but it’s also far more complicated than Holder lets on. And can we really believe anything he says?
Right up front, it’s important to reiterate that the vast majority of law enforcement officials at the local, state and federal level abide, first and foremost, by their oaths “to Support and Defend” our Constitution and the Liberty it enshrines.
But that doesn’t mean a few haven’t forgotten who they are obligated to “protect and serve.” We’ve warned previously about the over-militarization of police. It’s a problem for several reasons, and one is the tendency to amplify aggression when encountering citizens and suspects. As we said in August, a situation that was already tense thanks to the racial imbalance between the city and its police department, was made worse by the paramilitary police response to the riots after Michael Brown’s death.
Furthermore, as Mark Alexander, a police veteran himself, wrote in December, “Clearly, there are some police officers calloused by constant exposure to oppressive urban criminal cultures. Consequently, some may over-generalize racial assumptions and abuse their authority.”
But the problem in Ferguson isn’t quite, well, black and white.
According to the DOJ, “African Americans experience disparate impact in nearly every aspect of Ferguson’s law enforcement system. Despite making up 67% of the population, African Americans accounted for 85% of FPD’s traffic stops, 90% of FPD’s citations, and 93% of FPD’s arrests from 2012 to 2014.”
“Disparate impact” is one of Obama’s favorite phrases, but does this mean police are racist? Not necessarily. As Alexander noted, “[W]hen 90% of murders in urban centers are ‘people of color’ and 90% of perpetrators are ‘people of color,’ cops of any color are going to be more cautious with ‘people of color.’ This is not ‘racism,’ this is reality, driven by a desire to make it home safely at the end of one’s shift.”
Still, the DOJ’s accounts of police overstepping bounds are too numerous to ignore. Just to name a couple:
A black man who was sitting in his car cooling off from playing basketball was accused by an officer of being a pedophile because there were children nearby. He was ordered out of his car for a pat-down, seemingly without cause, and then arrested for “eight violations of Ferguson’s municipal code,” including not wearing a seatbelt in a parked car. The man lost his job as a result.
A black woman illegally parked her car and ended up in a six-year battle, paying more than $1,000 in fines and spending six days in jail.
Were there extenuating circumstances in these cases? Prior arrests? Perhaps, but the report is careful not to elaborate on the citizens’ backgrounds.
There are plenty of other anecdotes of general harassment – police seeming to escalate otherwise innocuous situations, police dogs biting blacks (and only blacks), officers arresting people based solely on verbal exchanges, and cops uttering racial epithets. We’re sure none of Ferguson’s black citizens ever hurled racial epithets at officers.
The report found that “Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs.” The city’s finance director emailed the police chief to see if the police department could raise enough revenue for a 10% budget increase. For a town of 21,000 with a median income around $36,000, that’s not hard to believe. In fact, one might ask why Ferguson has a police department of its own, rather than deploying the St. Louis County PD.
The problems in Ferguson did not, however, extend to Officer Darren Wilson’s deadly encounter with Michael Brown. He was cleared of criminal charges in November, and the DOJ went to great lengths explaining why Wilson was justified in shooting Brown. While that defense is all well and good, Obama, Holder and their race-baiting friends ended Wilson’s career in the police department and effectively endangered him for life by countenancing (until now) the false “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” meme.
It wasn’t long before two New York police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, lost their lives at the hands of a black racist.
Don’t miss the timing of the two reports. The one absolving Wilson was released alongside the political consolation prize – discrediting the entire department.
Also note the administration’s language defending the ATF’s looming ammunition ban is all about “protecting police.” See? Obama cares.
The trouble here is that the Justice Department’s report doesn’t resolve anything. Those who see police as racist, jackbooted thugs now have a lengthy report full of horrible anecdotes to back that up. Others who see the Obama administration as the racist, jackbooted thugs will summarily dismiss the report. Based on Obama’s and Holder’s untrustworthiness, this is understandable.
The truth is probably lost somewhere in the middle. Racial tension is real – there’s no doubt Ferguson residents at least felt harassed rather than served. Police are human and susceptible to abusing power. But inner city culture is rotten and full of law-breaking gangbangers of whatever race. The DOJ report calls for changes in Ferguson, but none of those changes are solutions. So, now what?
For more, visit Right Analysis.
TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS
- Jeff Jacoby: Putin’s Russia Is a Gangster Regime
- Tony Perkins: Overruled! Alabama Supremes Halt Gay Marriage
- Victor Davis Hanson: The Audacity of Weakness
- Larry Elder: Ethanol: The GOP-Supported Rip-Off
- Ann Coulter: The Great, Amazing, Incomparable Stan Evans Is Dead
For more, visit Right Opinion.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Greek fabulist Aesop (620-564 BC): “Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.”
Columnist Jeff Jacoby: “‘I’m afraid Putin will kill me,’ Boris Nemtsov told a Russian website on February 10. He was dead before the month was out. The charismatic opposition leader, a former deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, was assassinated in the heart of Moscow on Friday night as he walked over a bridge near Red Square, only yards from the Kremlin walls. … Did Putin order the latest assassination? As Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion and longtime Nemtsov friend, noted over the weekend, whether or not Putin issued a directive is beside the point. The Russian strongman ‘is directly responsible for creating the conditions in which these outrages occur with such terrible frequency.’ … In such a culture of fear, there is little point asking who gave the order to kill. Ask rather whose killing will be ordered next. And ask an even more pressing question: When will American policymakers stop treating Putin’s regime as anything but the gangster state that it is? … Washington can best give meaning to Nemtsov’s death by emulating the resolve and courage he embodied in life. Condolences won’t slow Putin’s aggression. Backbone is a different story.”
Columnist Tony Perkins: “Despite all the saber rattling, the American people are left with the same empty and frustrated feeling they had when the GOP was in the minority. Like us, many of them are probably wondering: why give control to Republicans if all they’re going to do is babysit the country’s demise? In the end, this is about a lot more than immigration. It’s about every issue (marriage, health care, abortion, national security, gun rights) where President Obama has substituted his personal agenda for the rule of law. Speaker Boehner insists the courts can handle the amnesty issue. But considering the courts’ recent track record, who in their right minds would trust them to? The founders designed Congress to be an executive branch check for a reason. And if Republicans can’t muster the courage to stand now, when will they?”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
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