Friday Digest

Digest

Jul. 9, 2010

The Foundation

“Justice is the end of government.” –James Madison

Government & Politics

The Department of Injustice

Attorney General Eric "Cherub" Holder

The Justice Department filed suit against the state of Arizona Tuesday over its recently passed immigration law, saying the law “interferes with the federal government’s balanced administration of the immigration laws” and, therefore, has crossed a “constitutional line.” And believe us, no one knows more about crossing constitutional lines than the Obama administration.

In fact, the administration’s real reason for suing may be patent infringement on constitutional line-crossing.

Truly, the lawsuit could allege copyright infringement, because all Arizona did was copy federal law. We don’t know if Attorney General Eric Holder has actually read the 18-page law yet, but, as we’ve said before, it merely makes it a state crime for people to be in Arizona if they’re in the United States illegally. If the police have an otherwise lawful encounter with someone, and if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the U.S. illegally, the police are required to ask for documentation of immigration status. An Arizona driver’s license is sufficient.

The law is not, as the DoJ alleges, an attempt “to set immigration policy at the state level.” It is an effort to enforce federal laws that are not being enforced. If there’s a legitimate criticism, it’s that police resources are scarce enough without this added burden. But that’s not Arizona’s fault.

The bottom line is that the administration is seeking to do two things: preserve (or even expand) the power of the executive branch in immigration law and policy and win over an important and growing constituency group for generations to come.

It’s the second point that brings us to another Justice Department action – that of dropping a slam-dunk case against the New Black Panther Party (another valuable constituent group for the Democrats) for intimidating voters on Election Day 2008 in Philadelphia. We don’t know how much clearer the evidence can be than having the Panthers caught on video wearing paramilitary garb, wielding billy clubs and shouting racial threats at potential white voters in front of a polling place. Indeed, Bartle Bull was an eyewitness. He’s also a former civil rights attorney and publisher of the ultra-liberal Village Voice. He called it “the most blatant form of voter intimidation I’ve ever seen.”

Initially, the administration pursued the case, which was brought during the final days of the Bush Administration, winning a default judgment in federal court in April 2009 after the Panther members failed to appear in court. A month later, however, Justice moved to dismiss charges in exchange for one Panther member’s pledge not to carry a “deadly weapon” to a Philadelphia polling place and only until 2012. Not surprisingly, mainstream media coverage of this gross miscarriage of justice has been virtually non-existent.

The problem is race-based and it is endemic. J. Christian Adams, an ex-Justice official who resigned over the department’s handling of the case, testified Tuesday before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that the DoJ instructed attorneys in the civil rights division to ignore cases involving black defendants and white victims. Furthermore, he alleged that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes declared that she would not enforce Section 8 of the “Motor Voter” law, which requires states periodically to purge voter rolls of felons, the deceased and those who have moved. According to Adams, Fernandes said, “We’re not interested in those kind of cases. What do they have to do with helping increase minority access and turnout? We want to increase access to the ballot, not limit it.”

Perhaps stating the obvious, Adams said the dismissal of the Panthers' case “raises serious questions about the department’s enforcement neutrality in upcoming midterm elections and the subsequent 2012 presidential election.” It’s not just neutrality that’s a problem, though. “The salient thing about J. Christian Adams’s accusation,” writes Richard Fernandez of PajamasMedia, “is that, if true, it constitutes a pure exercise in the abuse of power [by the administration]. The other wrongs it represents – the perversion of the electoral process, the violation of civil rights – are secondary. The most serious allegation in the whole affair is that certain officials countenanced a crime because they wanted to.”

The Panther case and the Arizona suit make plain that the Department of Justice is engaging in the Saul Alinsky “Rules for Radicals” method of governance: Give blatant favors to allies and crush opponents with brute force.

On a lighter note, perhaps the solution would be to combine problems. Instead of leaving them to obstruct voters at the polls, the feds could station Black Panthers with billy clubs at the border.

This Week’s ‘Braying Jackass’ Award

“I hate white people. All of them! Every last iota of a cracker, I hate him! You want freedom? You’re going to have to kill some crackers! You’re going to have kill some of their babies.” –“King Samir Shabazz,” New Black Panther Philadelphia chapter leader – whose charges of voter intimidation in the above-mentioned case were dropped by the new DoJ

News From the Swamp: The Kagan Hearings

The Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan this past week were a glimpse into a pretty dim future for American jurisprudence. Kagan offered an obsequious and often glib performance over two days of softball pitches by Democrats and surprisingly light questioning by Republicans. She remained true to her featherweight legal background by deflecting most of the questions she received, and everyone, including the American public, walked away from the hearings just as clueless about her as when the whole charade began. Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t help matters, because they refused to follow up on some important lines of questioning. They also didn’t demonstrate any coordinated plan of attack for exposing Kagan as a doctrinaire leftist with no respect for constitutional Rule of Law.

Still, the clues about the real Elena Kagan are evident in her prior record, scant though it may be. She advised Bill Clinton to veto the partial-birth abortion ban, a bill that later became law and was upheld by the Supreme Court. In doing so, she even went as far as to manipulate the medical language of a statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to help protect the barbaric practice. Kagan also suggested that the Court should overturn the Solomon Amendment, which provides for the removal of federal funds for schools that deny recruiting opportunities to the military. The Amendment has since been upheld unanimously by the High Court. These two instances are indicative of just how out of step Kagan is with the jurisprudential requirements of the position to which she has aspired since her college days.

More troubling, though, is Kagan’s embrace of trans-nationalism, the trend among lawyers and judges who believe that the U.S. Constitution and legal system should incorporate international and foreign laws and legal rulings. On Constitution Day 2007, when most of the nation’s educational institutions were embracing an educational program on the U.S. Constitution, Kagan hired noted trans-nationalist Noah Feldman to speak to the Harvard faculty. Feldman has been a constant and vocal critic of the American legal system because it has not fully embraced international law to guide its jurisprudence. Because Democrats control 58 Senate seats, Kagan is likely to win confirmation with a couple of turncoat Republicans, but the Constitution, the Rule of Law, and the American public will pay heavily later.

Robert Byrd, Democrat of the Klan, (1917-2010)

Sen. Robert Byrd, a one time Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan chapter he started in West Virginia, died last week at the age of 92. First elected to the Senate in 1958, he was in the middle of his ninth term and was the longest-serving senator in U.S. history. He has been hailed widely as the Senate’s “respected” historian and a master of parliamentary procedure. Pork was his specialty, and numerous public works and buildings in West Virginia bear his name at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Bill Clinton argued in his eulogy that the ends justify the means: Byrd “once had a fleeting association with the Ku Klux Klan,” merely because “he was trying to get elected.” That’s a backhanded compliment if ever there was one. While many editorialists want to consider Byrd’s Klan days as “fleeting,” his racist views lived on for many years. He was the only senator to vote against Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court, and he personally filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act for 14 straight hours in an attempt to keep it from passing.

If the real Robert Byrd were as colorblind as the media wants us to believe he was, his memory might just deserve more reflection. To this point, one need only compare the media’s largely laudatory coverage of Byrd’s career to its highly critical remembrance of long-serving South Carolina Republican and former Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond, who died in 2003 at age 100.

New & Notable Legislation

Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) has introduced a bill to create a national Internet sales tax. Delahunt, who is a longtime fan of such a measure, claims that states aren’t being compensated fairly by online purchases made by their residents from out-of-state vendors. In a time of reduced revenue, so goes the theory, state governments need to collect taxes from these sources, though such a tax will serve only as a drag on the economy. Perhaps a better solution might be to reduce spending.

By a vote of 215-210 House Democrats passed a “budget enforcement resolution” meant to set discretionary spending levels for 2011 at $1.12 trillion. This replaces the traditional budget resolution for the next fiscal year, which Democrats refuse to pass because they want to avoid being targeted by deficit-conscious voters during the midterms. The new resolution doesn’t give any direction as to how Congress is supposed to meet its new goal; that will be determined by the president’s bipartisan fiscal commission. This get-the-responsibility-off-my-back swindle is likely to suggest the infamous European-style Value-Added Tax among other alternatives.

From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a flag mural was painted on a concrete slab visible from I-680 east of Oakland. In a typical move from a clueless bureaucracy, however, the flag was painted over just days before Independence Day. It seems that someone at the California Department of Transportation (better known as Caltrans) wanted more bland uniformity along state highways. According to a Caltrans spokesman, the repainting was part of a “graffiti-reduction” project, and officials only recently discovered that the concrete slab where the mural was painted lay on state-owned land.

Even in California the outcry was swift and severe, forcing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to apologize for the desecration of the mural – a move he called “unconscionable.” That mea culpa extended an offer to the three artists who painted the flag nearly nine years ago to place a mural in a more “suitable” location through a proper Caltrans permitting process.

Two unidentified painters didn’t wait, though, restoring Old Glory in time for the Fourth of July on that same spot. The red in red, white, and blue shouldn’t stand for red tape. Thank goodness that there are still real Americans with a can-do spirit.

National Security

Warfront With Jihadistan: Petraeus Wants to … Win?

This week, Gen. David Petraeus formally took command of the 130,000 U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan, relieving Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was removed for remarks he and his aides had made to Rolling Stone magazine about the Obama regime. During a change of command ceremony in Kabul attended by several hundred NATO and Afghan officials, Petraeus received two flags, one for the U.S. and the other for NATO. He appeared to bring a new attitude to the task at hand – a different attitude from the previous command and that of the Obama regime. “We are in this to win,” the general said of the war in a refreshingly candid way, using a word (“win”) that Obama has been loath to utter. With Obama’s self-imposed deadline of July 2011 for starting the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, Petraeus has his work cut out for him.

Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), in Afghanistan to meet with the new commander, criticized Obama’s withdrawal timetable, pointing out the obvious – that it’s a mistake to tell the enemy when you plan on leaving. In addition to the new push to win, Petraeus is also expected to refine the rules of engagement on the battlefield. The current rules were designed to limit civilian casualties, but with their emphasis on caution, they put U.S. troops in greater danger. Letting our troops freely fight the enemy would be a step in the right direction.

Back home, the increasingly erratic Republican National Committee Chairman, Michael Steele, is in hot water, once again, for revealing his malfunctioning stupid filter – that voice inside your head that says, “That’s stupid. Don’t say it.” Speaking at a Connecticut fundraiser, Steele said of the Afghan war, “This was a war of Obama’s choosing,” apparently forgetting who was president when the war started, not to mention who started it. He continued, “This [war] is not something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” If Mr. Steele truly believes this, he needs to step down from his RNC post and join the DNC. At a minimum, he needs to have that filter checked.

NASA: Not About Space Anymore

Space, the final frontier. To boldly go where … no stuck-in-the-seventh-century Muslim with low self-esteem has gone before? No, it doesn’t quite have the majesty of the original words, and it’s probably not very inspirational for the NASA work force. But since Obama has cancelled the Constellation Program to return Americans permanently to the moon, NASA employees have to spend their budget or be out of a job. So they might as well make Muslims feel good about themselves. Apparently, this is now NASA’s “foremost” job, according to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. In an interview with al-Jazeera (yes, al-Jazeera), Bolden said Obama charged him with three things when he assumed NASA’s leadership: inspire children to get into math and science; expand international cooperation; and “third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.” We would’ve thought that exploring space for the advancement of U.S. interests might be in there somewhere.

Where does one begin? Even giving Bolden a break due to his target audience, and leaving aside the questions of why the last great Islamic contributions to science and math occurred some nine centuries ago, or why NASA is performing a psycho-therapist function, we question the wisdom of uplifting a culture whose most significant recent contribution to air and space technology was flying passenger airliners into buildings.

TSA Bans, Then Reverses Course on ‘Controversial Opinion’ Sites

Perhaps it was due to a lingering lack of leadership after Barack Obama’s third nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration was finally confirmed late last month, but the TSA released and then partially revoked restrictions on websites that employees are allowed to visit while at work. Word of an internal memo outlining the new Internet restrictions reached the media during the holiday weekend, and the TSA soon backtracked on its ban of websites featuring “controversial opinion.” The primary question is who decides what constitutes “controversial”? (No word on whether The Patriot Post was included.)

Still verboten are sites that feature “Chat/Messaging,” “Criminal activity,” “Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content” and “Gaming.” Adult-oriented sites didn’t appear on the list, but perhaps access to those is reserved for the employees of the National Science Foundation or Securities and Exchange Commission. If nothing else, rescinding the ban on “controversial opinion” may help keep the men and women of the TSA alert and awake.

VA May Have Infected 1,800 With HIV

A Missouri VA hospital finds itself in hot water over its potentially spreading hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to military personnel. The chances of someone actually contracting one of these diseases from a botched sanitization procedure may be slim, but 1,800 patients received the chilling news that they may have been exposed to one or more of these diseases as a result of improperly sanitized dental instruments.

For more than a year – a period ending just last March – staff at the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis routinely hand-washed dental instruments before placing them in a cleaning machine. This breach of protocol is “absolutely unacceptable,” according to Rep. Russ Carnahan, a Missouri Democrat who is calling for a federal investigation. However, a federal investigation won’t be conducted on the reasoning for the shortcuts in the care of our veterans, nor will the obvious question be asked: Will this be common practice under ObamaCare? This mistreatment of veterans who placed their trust in the nation they served to give them quality medical care may be the trigger for a wider reform of veterans' health services. Let’s just hope the reform isn’t carried out by those in charge now.

Feds Plan ‘Cyber Shield’

“The federal government is launching an expansive program dubbed ‘Perfect Citizen’ to detect cyber assaults on private companies and government agencies running such critical infrastructure as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The surveillance by the National Security Agency, the government’s chief eavesdropping agency, would rely on a set of sensors deployed in computer networks for critical infrastructure that would be triggered by unusual activity suggesting an impending cyber attack, though it wouldn’t persistently monitor the whole system.” Raytheon Corp., a defense contractor, won the classified contract to begin the surveillance effort.

If you weren’t concerned enough by the name “Perfect Citizen,” one internal Raytheon email makes it sound downright Orwellian: “The overall purpose of the [program] is our Government … feel[s] that they need to insure the Public Sector is doing all they can to secure Infrastructure critical to our National Security. Perfect Citizen is Big Brother.” The vulnerability is real, but let’s hope the solution isn’t worse than the problem.

Business & Economy

Regulatory Commissars: The Financial Frankenstein

The House passed its version of the financial regulatory overhaul before the July 4th holiday by a vote of 237-192. The Senate has yet to pass the legislation due in part to the death of Robert Byrd, who would have provided Democrats a sorely needed vote. Republicans have voiced opposition because of the legislation’s negative impact on the financial sector.

This 2,000-page bill would make drastic changes to the way American banks and investors do business. Judging by the high level of government intrusion into the financial sector promised in the bill, it may end the way some do business altogether. New restrictions, including minority and gender hiring quotas for private companies, and a host of new government agencies will be making investment and finance decisions that were being made by the private sector. For example, a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will decide what private sector groups can make loans and to whom those loans can be made.

All these draconian steps are meant supposedly to correct the problems that led to the 2008 financial collapse. Of course, two organizations almost entirely responsible for that collapse, government-sponsored real-estate lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not even mentioned in the bill. Democrats plan to take up legislation on them after the midterm elections.

Throughout the process, statists from Barack Obama on down have proclaimed that Republican opposition to the bill is due to their love affair with Wall Street. On the contrary, leftist hate for capitalism in general has been driving this Congress since Democrats took over in 2007.

Around the Nation: Free Enterprise Helps Oil Cleanup

After two-plus months of persistent ineptitude in mishandling the Gulf oil spill, government bureaucracy is about to be bested by private enterprise. Entrepreneur Nobu Su, CEO of Taiwan-based TMT Corporation, has offered the use of his “A Whale,” an oil skimmer that can skim up to 500,000 barrels of oil-contaminated water per day (250 times more than any other cleanup vessel on site) and operate in weather conditions that relegate most ships to dock. Despite initial rejection by BP and the Obama administration, Su invested millions to outfit “A Whale” for the task, and the federal government took notice – authorizing a test run to let “A Whale” prove its capabilities.

Interestingly, as the Heritage Foundation reports, “Su’s team generously gives credit to the USA for creating his entrepreneurial and innovative spirit.” Imagine that: While our government fumbles, we’re enjoying a lesson in free enterprise from a onetime student halfway around the world.

In related news, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the administration’s request to reinstate the six-month ban on deepwater drilling. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has indicated that he will issue a new moratorium regardless of the court’s ruling. No drilling has resumed because of legal uncertainties, which is doing great damage to the Gulf’s economy.

Finally, as BP holds “controlled burns” to address the oil spill, environmentalists have filed a lawsuit to stop the fires, as it seems endangered sea turtles have been getting caught up in the blazes. Animal Welfare Institute President Cathy Liss called it “horrifying that these innocent creatures … are … being burned alive.” Yeah, let’s just let the oil wash up on shore instead.

Hope ‘n’ Change: Health Care Headaches

As the fairy dust starts to settle around ObamaCare, the reality – surprise, surprise – isn’t quite as rosy as the rhetoric once painted. For example, the $5 billion “high-risk” insurance program the administration created to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions may actually turn some of those very individuals away. The program is supposed to run until Jan. 1, 2014, after which time health insurance companies cannot discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. But, as The Hill reports, “[E]xperts of all stripes warned during the healthcare debate that $5 billion would likely not last until 2014.” Indeed, while millions of Americans lack insurance because of pre-existing sickness, the $5 billion pool would cover only a fraction of them. Besides turning folks away, the administration admits that cutting benefits is also on the table.

It looks as if the health care takeover won’t cure the nation’s congested ERs either. In fact, instead of easing the problem, ObamaCare will do just the opposite. “More people will have coverage and will be less afraid to go to the emergency department if they’re sick or hurt and have nowhere else to go,” says RAND Corporation Researcher Dr. Arthur L. Kellermann. “We just don’t have other places in the system for these folks to go.”

In related news, the Associated Press reports, “President Barack Obama bypassed the Senate Wednesday and appointed Dr. Donald Berwick, a Harvard professor and patient care specialist, to run Medicare and Medicaid.” Berwick revealed his worldview in remarks at the July 2008 National Health Service conference in London: “Sick people tend to be poorer and that poor people tend to be sicker and that any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized, and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional.” With the giant budgets of Medicare and Medicaid, Berwick will be redistributing a lot of wealth, too.

Culture & Policy

Second Amendment: Chicago Still Virtually Bans Guns

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment acknowledges an individual right to keep and bear arms. In doing so, the Court sent Chicago’s blanket handgun ban back to the lower courts to determine just how far Chicago may infringe on that right.

The Windy City immediately repealed the ban but implemented 29 pages of draconian restrictions that create a de facto ban. No gun shops are permitted in the city, so to purchase a gun, one must travel elsewhere. Since shooting ranges are also barred inside the city, one must again travel to take the requisite one-hour training course at a shooting range. Citizens may register only one firearm per month and keep only one “functional” firearm in their home, which apparently doesn’t include even the garage or the front porch. Additional firearms must be kept in a “broken down” state and can be transported only in a “broken down” state.

Of course, Mayor Richard Daley spewed a bunch of CO2, saying that the new ordinance “responsibly and reasonably balances previous Court rulings on Second Amendment rights with our determination to protect our residents from violence and keep them safe.” Chicago residents, who were demonstrably not safe under the ban, are already working up a challenge to the new regulations.

Climate Change This Week: Hoaxers Clear Themselves

Phil Jones, the former head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and the central figure in the Climategate scandal last fall, has been reinstated. Despite the fact that he and his cohorts were on the record in released emails discussing manipulating evidence, silencing critics and propagandizing climate change, a “comprehensive” review found that they did nothing wrong. “On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists,” wrote Sir Muir Russell, who led the investigation, “we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.”

Likewise, Penn State University announced its exoneration of climate professor Michael Mann, whose infamous hockey-stick graph allegedly demonstrated a dramatic elevation in the earth’s temperature in recent years. In one email exchange, Mann’s pen pal referred to a “statistical trick” in the graph. This data, according to envirofascists, warrants extreme measures such as cap-n-tax legislation in order to halt “climate change.”

On Nov. 30 of last year, Penn State opened an investigation to determine whether Mann had “seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities.” Interestingly enough, the panel found that although Mann was “careless and inappropriate” in releasing unpublished manuscripts without authors' consent, he did not “violate accepted practices.”

Critics, including the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, are calling the investigation a “whitewash.” Only one critic of Mann’s work – Richard Lindzen of M.I.T. – was interviewed by Penn State during the investigation. Lindzen wrote, “Penn State has clearly demonstrated that it is incapable of monitoring violations of scientific standards of behavior internally.” Indeed, the circling of the wagons at Penn State and East Anglia says a mouthful, not only about “accepted practices” in the academic community, but also about what academic institutions will do to cover up the unethical behavior of one of their own to save their undeserved reputations.

Millions of Swine Flu Vaccines to Be Burned

Imagine lighting $260 million afire – crazy even in the best of times, let alone these days of economic hardship. But that’s what will happen when the government incinerates the 40 million expired doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine. Another 30 million doses will expire soon, and they’ll be destroyed as well. It’s just another day in the life of the Obama administration, the one that wants to be entrusted with running our health care.

We all remember the hysteria: the threat of a pandemic, complete with projected death tolls and statistics comparing it with the Black Plague and Spanish Influenza. People grew frightened when they learned that they would have to wait for more of the vaccine to be produced. Indeed, a good portion of the vaccine wasn’t even ready until the “crisis” had passed, and within a few months the demand had waned. Seems folks figured out that, not only was the swine flu not spreading as feared, but that it wasn’t causing anywhere near the number of the deaths as the run-of-the-mill seasonal flu. Now, nearly a year after all the Obama theater, we’ve wasted hundreds of millions of dollars that we don’t have, on a threat that never materialized, while other real threats go unaddressed.

Court Rules Federal Ban on Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled Thursday that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally interferes with a state’s right to define marriage, and that the law also denies same-sex partners some federal benefits. The ruling applies specifically to Massachusetts, but the Obama administration is considering taking the case to an appeals court, which could spread the implications. Massachusetts contended that, because same-sex unions are legal in the state, it was forced to discriminate against some of its citizens by denying them Medicaid benefits. The administration’s stated goal is repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and, as with so many leftist social ambitions, the best way to do this is through the courts.

And Last…

The Associated Press reports, “Anchorage authorities say they’re investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a gay pride float intended for a 4th of July parade.” Witnesses say that moments before the fire began last Friday, they saw someone running from the scene. The float’s builders suspect it was a “hate” crime, but they vowed to carry on with an improvised float using charred pieces from the original. We hope they didn’t miss the opportunity to rename their fabulous float “The Flamer.”