Freedom and Liberty
Andrew Klavan discusses what the left has been reduced to in defending its failures:
I think he pretty accurately capsulizes today’s climate on the left. Totally out of arguments, adrift in leftist failures worldwide, all they have left is to yell"shut up" at their opposition. And as he points out, they simply use different code words in their attempt. I also agree with his conclusion:
Don’t shut up.
Because they deny both science and fact to push an agenda that is demonstrably false. Yet have the temerity to call those who are skeptical of their claims “deniers”. And, of course, they have their “scientific” mouthpieces as well. For instance:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released its “State of the Climate in 2012” report, which states that “worldwide, 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record.”
But the report “fails to mention  was one of the coolest of the decade, and thus confirms the cooling trend,” according to an analysis by climate blogger Pierre Gosselin.
“To no one’s surprise, the report gives the reader the impression that warming is galloping ahead out of control,” writes Gosselin. “But their data shows just the opposite.”
Well of course it does. It’s not like we haven’t seen this sort of thing from them before. It is “Headline” science. It’s also Chicken Little Science. Always the alarmist. Always the problem … a problem that only government can fix, of course. And a problem that also includes you losing some freedom of action. You know, the usual prescription.
Then there’s the confusion:
Although the NOAA report noted that in 2012, “the Arctic continues to warm” with “sea ice reaching record lows,” it also stated that the Antarctica sea ice “reached a record high of 7.51 million square miles” on Sept. 26, 2012.
And the latest figures for this year show that there’s been a slowdown of melting in the Arctic this summer as well, with temperatures at the North Pole well below normal for this time of year. Meteorologist Joe Bastardi calls it “the coldest ever recorded.”
Oh, my … an “inconvenient truth”. Now what?
Well, because the facts don’t support the usual assertion, AP was forced to retract a photo and caption:
The Associated Press had to retract a photo it released on July 27 with the caption, “The shallow meltwater lake is occurring due to an unusually warm period.”
“In fact, the water accumulates in this way every summer,” AP admitted in a note to editors, adding that the photo was doubly misleading because “the camera used by the North Pole Environment Observatory has drifted hundreds of miles from its original position, which was a few dozen miles from the pole.”
I guess they were out of distraught polar bears hanging on to a sliver of ice or something.
And then there’s this:
NOAA also reported that the “average lower strastospheric temperature, about six to ten miles above the Earth’s surface, for 2012 was record or near-record cold, depending on the dataset” even while the concentrations of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, continued to increase.
But don’t worry … the real science will be ignored. Why? Because a certain set of politicans are sniffing the wind and they smell an opportunity to create a tax out of thin air. And that, my friends, is all it takes. Politicians and junk science … a marriage made in hell.
Well, well, well … here’s a surprise! Not!
Remember the post the other day about how the DEA was “recreating the investigative trail” to hide where they got some of their initial info (you know, the newest euphemism for lying)?
As with most of these sorts of stories, it apparently only exposed the tip of the proverbial iceberg:
Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years.
The practice of recreating the investigative trail, highly criticized by former prosecutors and defense lawyers after Reuters reported it this week, is now under review by the Justice Department. Two high-profile Republicans have also raised questions about the procedure.
A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied by the DEA’s Special Operations Division, especially from affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files. The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and was removed in early 2007. The IRS is among two dozen arms of the government working with the Special Operations Division, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.
So … it could even go deeper, no? And of course, this just adds more mud to the IRS’s already mud-spattered reputation.
Show of hands … how many would be shocked, shocked I tell you to learn that the FBI, CIA, NSA and a myriad of other alphabet soup Federal agencies were doing this as well?
For those not raising your hand, naïve doesn’t even begin to cover it.
That’s the question headlining a Ron Fournier article in National Journal. My first reaction was to laugh out loud. My second reaction was to wonder why it has taken all this time for someone in the press to actually ask that question.
The evidence of his lack of leadership has been on the table for 4 plus years. And for me that’s a double edged sword. On the one side, I’m happy he’s such a dismal leader because it limits what he can destroy. On the other side, especially the policy side both foreign and domestic, it has led to a decline in almost all areas. A decline a real leader will have to address when Obama is finally relegated to history.
Anyway, here’s Fournier’s take:
In March, a reporter asked Obama why he didn’t lock congressional leaders in a room until they agreed on a budget deal. Obama’s answer was based on two assumptions. First, that his opinion is supreme. Second, he can’t break the logjam. What a remarkable combination of arrogance and impotence.
"I am not a dictator. I’m the president," he said. "I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s been floating around Washington; that somehow, even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right."
Obama could still do great things. But not if he and his advisers underestimate a president’s powers, and don’t know how to exploit them. Not if his sympathizers give Obama cover by minimizing his influence. Cover to fail. Not if the president himself is outwardly and boundlessly dismissive of his critics, telling The New York Times, "I’m not concerned about their opinions."
To say the situation is intractable seems akin to waving a white flag over a polarized capital: Republicans suck. We can’t deal with them. Let’s quit.
I’m afraid they have quit—all of them, on both sides. At the White House and in Congress, most Democrats and Republicans have abandoned hope of fixing the nation’s problems. If leadership was merely about speaking to the converted, winning fights and positioning for blame, America would be in great hands. But it’s not.
Well I’m not so sure they’ve quit … or at least Obama hasn’t quit. He has no desire to persuade or do the hard work of a leader and work with Congress. Instead, where he’s headed does give lie to his claim of not being dictator. That’s precisely what he’d prefer to be. And Daniel Henninger brings you that bit of insight:
Please don’t complain later that you didn’t see it coming. As always, Mr. Obama states publicly what his intentions are. He is doing that now. Toward the end of his speech last week in Jacksonville, Fla., he said: "So where I can act on my own, I’m going to act on my own. I won’t wait for Congress." (Applause.)
The July 24 speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., has at least four references to his intent to act on his own authority, as he interprets it: "That means whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it." (Applause.) And: "We’re going to do everything we can, wherever we can, with or without Congress."
Every president since George Washington has felt frustration with the American system’s impediments to change. This president is done with Congress.
The political left, historically inclined by ideological belief to public policy that is imposed rather than legislated, will support Mr. Obama’s expansion of authority. The rest of us should not.
And Obama is engaged in the systematic demonization of the other two coequal branches of government in order to sway the public toward his dictatorial inclinations:
To create public support for so much unilateral authority, Mr. Obama needs to lessen support for the other two branches of government—Congress and the judiciary. He is doing that.
Mr. Obama and his supporters in the punditocracy are defending this escalation by arguing that Congress is "gridlocked." But don’t overstate that low congressional approval rating. This is the one branch that represents the views of all Americans. It’s gridlocked because voters are.
Take a closer look at the Galesburg and Jacksonville speeches. Mr. Obama doesn’t merely criticize Congress. He mocks it repeatedly. Washington "ignored" problems. It "made things worse." It "manufactures" crises and "phony scandals." He is persuading his audiences to set Congress aside and let him act.
So too the judiciary. During his 2010 State of the Union speech, Mr. Obama denounced the Supreme Court Justices in front of him. The National Labor Relations Board has continued to issue orders despite two federal court rulings forbidding it to do so. Attorney General Eric Holder says he will use a different section of the Voting Rights Act to impose requirements on Southern states that the Supreme Court ruled illegal. Mr. Obama’s repeated flouting of the judiciary and its decisions are undermining its institutional authority, as intended.
Clearly, Obama’s arrogance leads him to believe that a ruler is what we need, not a president. And he’s up for that job, because it doesn’t brook interference and it doesn’t require leadership. Tyranny is the the usual place people who couldn’t lead an alcoholic to a bar end up. And we’re watching that happen now.
Henninger ends his piece with a final, ironic quote:
"To ensure that no person or group would amass too much power, the founders established a government in which the powers to create, implement, and adjudicate laws were separated. Each branch of government is balanced by powers in the other two coequal branches." Source: The White House website of President Barack Obama.
Our Constitutional scholar is now involved in a process to wreck that balance and enhance executive powers to the point that he really doesn’t need Congress or the courts. And a compliant media along will the left will do everything in their power to enable the transition. Because their ideas and ideology would never pass the test of a real democracy and they have little chance of persuading the population to go along with them. So imposition is truly the only route open. That’s precisely what you’re going to see in Obama’s remaining years as president. Executive imposition of his version of laws or, if you prefer, a brand of executive lawlessness unprecedented in our history.
But then, that’s what dictators do, isn’t it?
I think the signs are clear that most of big government displays varying degrees of ineptness, from slightly to completely. And over the years, the entire scale of government has moved relentlessly to the “completely” side of things.
Here’s a simple example of why few have any trust in government and even fewer believe what it says anymore. In this case it has to do with security and immigration. It has to do with basic competence. It has to do with following and enforcing the law. And it also has to do with a department of government which has done none of those things:
The Homeland Security Department has lost track of more than 1 million people who it knows arrived in the U.S. but who it cannot prove left the country, according to an audit Tuesday that also found the department probably won’t meet its own goals for deploying an entry-exit system.
The findings were revealed as Congress debates an immigration bill, and the Government Accountability Office’s report could throw up another hurdle because lawmakers in the House and Senate have said that any final deal must include a workable system to track entries and exits and cut down on so-called visa overstays.
The government does track arrivals, but is years overdue in setting up a system to track departures — a goal set in a 1996 immigration law and reaffirmed in 2004, but which has eluded Republican and Democratic administrations.
“DHS has not yet fulfilled the 2004 statutory requirement to implement a biometric exit capability, but has planning efforts under way to report to Congress in time for the fiscal year 2016 budget cycle on the costs and benefits of such a capability at airports and seaports,” GAO investigators wrote.
Why has it eluded both Republic and Democratic administrations? Basic incompetence coupled with bureaucratic resistance. A combination which leads to ossification – something we see more and more of as government grows more vast and inept. Also note that many of the problems we suffer today are of government’s making. Certainly if we have a means of logging arrivals into the country, having a system that tracks their exit just couldn’t be that tough to do. And DHS has had the mandate to do that since … 1996. 17 years. 17 years and nada. Result? We have no idea how many foreigners we have illegally in this country right now. But they can track a Pakistani Taliban for days on end via drones.
Of course none of this should surprise anyone, because the federal government isn’t now nor has it ever really been that interested in enforcing immigration laws. When it does do so it is almost by whim.
Like I said, this is just one example of the legion of examples where big government exacerbates problems by being inept or just intransigent (or both) in the execution and enforcement of laws. Executive departments really don’t pay that much attention to either the law or Congress. And, as usual, there are no consequences for doing so. The department charged with homeland security during a war on terror has lost track of a million foreigners that have traveled to this country.
And no one seems to care.
I love it when petty tyrants are struck down:
New York City’s crackdown on big, sugary sodas is staying on ice.
An appeals court ruled Tuesday that the city’s Board of Health exceeded its legal authority and acted unconstitutionally when it tried to put a size limit on soft drinks served in city restaurants.
In a unanimous opinion, the four-judge panel of the state Supreme Court Appellate Division said that the health board was acting too much like a legislature when it created the limit, which would have stopped sales of non-diet soda and other sugar-laden beverages in containers bigger than 16 ounces.
The judges wrote that while the board had the power to ban “inherently harmful” foodstuffs from being served to the public, sweetened beverages didn’t fall into that category. They also said the board appeared to have crafted much of the new rules based on political or economic considerations, rather than health concerns.
Bingo. In fact, they were instrumental in carrying out the wishes of one man – Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His is a personal agenda that has little to do with health and much to do with what he perceives as his duty to stop people from using substances that he deems harmful.
Thankfully the court said he doesn’t get to do that – at least not without substantial evidence to support his use of a ban. If ever there was an example of “arbitrary and capricious”, Bloomberg’s ban defines it.
But as a rule, petty tyrants don’t like getting their hands slapped. So, instead of seeing the handwriting on the wall, this one will spend more of NY taxpayers money pursuing a loss in a higher court:
The city’s law department promised a quick appeal.
“Today’s decision is a temporary setback, and we plan to appeal this decision as we continue the fight against the obesity epidemic,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
And if you ever wanted to understand why these busy-body do-gooders exist, here’s a fine statement to illustrate the point and the problem:
“We have a responsibility, as human beings, to do something, to save each other. … So while other people will wring their hands over the problem of sugary drinks, in New York City, we’re doing something about it,” Bloomberg said at a news conference after the measure was struck down in March.
Uh no, you don’t “have a responsibility” to “do something”. It’s none of your freaking business, sir. What you are doing is interfering in the life of people who haven’t asked you to do so and are therefore violating their right to do as they wish as long and they don’t violate the rights of others. That’s something petty tyrants can’t seem to get through there heads.
Freedom means the right to be fat, unhealthy and to fail. You may not like those things personally, but that indeed is the cost of freedom. If you’d prefer to be free to make your own choices rather than have some nanny make them for you, then you believe in freedom. Mayor Bloomberg does not.
The IRS scandal took on new impetus today with a interesting revelation:
Top IRS officials in Washington, D.C. planned and oversaw the agency’s improper targeting of conservative groups, according to the 72-year old retiring IRS lawyer who will testify Thursday before the House Oversight Committee.
Retiring IRS lawyer Carter C. Hull implicated the IRS Chief Counsel’s office, headed by Obama appointee William J. Wilkins, and Lois Lerner, the embattled head of the IRS’ exempt organizations office, in the IRS targeting scandal and made clear that the targeting started in Washington, according to leaked interviews that Hull granted to the Oversight Committee in advance of Thursday’s hearing.
Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George will return to Republican chairman Darrell Issa’s committee Thursday along with two central characters in the IRS saga: Hull and Cincinnati-based IRS employee Elizabeth Hofacre, who previously gave Hull’s name to congressional investigators, fingering him as her Washington-based supervisor.
Yup, the rats are deserting the sinking ship. They are certainly not willing to go down with it and so they’re naming names. And contrary to all the claims previously, it seems that Washington D.C. was indeed involved and not just a “couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati” as we were told in the beginning.
It’s usually never the crime itself that hangs politicians, but the attempted (and ham-fisted) cover-up. And that’s precisely what this is beginning to look like. As for being “ham-fisted”, is there anything this administration does that isn’t ham-fisted?
And William Saletan Slate articulates it:
The problem at the core of this case wasn’t race or guns. The problem was assumption, misperception, and overreaction. And that cycle hasn’t ended with the verdict. It has escalated.
I almost joined the frenzy. Yesterday I was going to write that Zimmerman pursued Martin against police instructions and illustrated the perils of racial profiling. But I hadn’t followed the case in detail. So I sat down and watched the closing arguments: nearly seven hours of video in which the prosecution and defense went point by point through the evidence as it had been hashed out at the trial. Based on what I learned from the videos, I did some further reading.
It turned out I had been wrong about many things. The initial portrait of Zimmerman as a racist wasn’t just exaggerated. It was completely unsubstantiated. It’s a case study in how the same kind of bias that causes racism can cause unwarranted allegations of racism. Some of the people Zimmerman had reported as suspicious were black men, so he was a racist. Members of his family seemed racist, so he was a racist. Everybody knew he was a racist, so his recorded words were misheard as racial slurs, proving again that he was a racist.
His summary is very on point. This entire shameful episode has been both media and politically driven. It has never been about justice. Never. It has been an attempt at a high-tech lynching, based on rumor, innuendo, false reporting, political pressure and misrepresentation.
Shameful doesn’t even begin to describe it. And now, as Saletan points out, the same groups who caused this travesty to reach the point of a trial, have now doubled down on getting George Zimmerman in other ways despite an outright acquittal on all charges related to the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Saletan makes the point that the case was more about a series of mistakes leading to a confrontation that should have never happened and, on Martin’s side an attack that was unwarranted. As hard as the usual suspects have tried to make it about race and racism, their attempts have failed at every turn. The facts simply don’t support the premise at all.
And the overreaction continues as ill-informed groups riot (more to grab a TV at Wal-Mart in some cases than to protest the verdict) egged on by a media who has all but excused rioters for their action by subtly sending the message that the Zimmerman acquittal justifies their actions.
Meanwhile, the overreactive beat goes on:
The grievance industrial complex is pushing the Department of Justice to prosecute Zimmerman for bias-motivated killing, based on evidence that didn’t even support a conviction for unpremeditated killing.
Truly amazing but not surprising.
We can only hope that someday sanity will again prevail in this great nation of ours.
You remember the post I did about the presidential appointments to the NLRB that were deemed by all but the Democrats to be illegal?
Well, there’s a move afoot to use what is being referred to as the “nuclear option” to fix that. The Washington Examiner explains:
Senate Democrats are considering invoking the so-called “nuclear option,” which would curb the minority party’s use of the filibuster and prevent Republicans from blocking presidential nominations.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled privately to President Obama that he may change Senate rules this month so it would take only 51 votes – instead of the current 60 – to approve judicial and executive branch nominees.
Democrats now control 55 Senate votes. Republicans have 45, but the GOP often still asserts itself by using the filibuster to keep nominations or legislation from coming to a vote.
Republicans charge that imposing the nuclear option would virtually eliminate the minority party’s chief means of keeping the majority in check and jeopardize any potential bipartisan agreements on top-priority legislation, including immigration reform, the budget and tax reform.
So, what would happen in the case of the NLRB appointments? If Reid (who by the way, adamantly opposed such a rule change when he was in the minority and spoke eloquently - well as eloquently as is possible for Harry Reid – about how it destroyed the rights of the minority) does this, then 51 Democrats will dutifully line up and “legalize” the NLRB without the minority party having had any voice in the matter.
That’s not how our republic was supposed to function. In fact, our founders were just as adamant as Reid was previously about minority rights. James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 10, “the great danger in republics is that the majority will not respect the rights of minority.” President Thomas Jeffersonproclaimed in his first inaugural address, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.”
Reid, of course, now believes that to be poppycock. Instead he’d prefer that the minority simply hush and let he and the Democrats appoint whomever they wish whenever they wish. Of course, we all know how quickly his position would change should he suddenly become the minority leader again. And that should tell you all you need to know about why this is a terrible idea and one that he nor the Democrats would stand for were they on the other side of the line.
But then, political expediency seems to trump statesmanship today and we’re all the worse for it.
UPDATE: Ah, the other shoe drops:
The Hill reports: “The nuclear option strategy is gaining momentum in the Senate in part because of growing pressure from organized labor, which wants Reid to break the impasse over the NLRB. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka … will call for rules changes at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank, Wednesday morning.”
I’d say quite convenient:
Congress authorized the collection program amid a great debate about the degree to which the government was expanding its surveillance authority without sufficient protection for Americans’ privacy.
Authorized by Section 702 of the amended Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the program did away with the traditional individual warrant for each foreign suspect whose communications would be collected in the United States. In its place, the FISA court, which oversees domestic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes and whose proceedings are secret, would certify the government’s procedures to target people overseas and ensure citizens’ privacy.
Of course those procedures are, to put it bluntly, open to interpretation, but we’re supposed to rely on the good intentions of those who do this to ensure via constant monitoring and checking, that they’re not intruding on the privacy of an individual citizen.
But who would know if they were? And, more importantly, what accountability would there be for it?
Now there are those who will point out, and rightfully so, that the 4th Amendment only applies to American citizens. And I don’t disagree. But who is watching the watchers? Or in this case, listeners. Who is exercising reasonable and competent oversight? Oh … the agency itself? Well, who else is authorized, given the secrecy? Congress? Wow, as easy as that bunch is snowed by just about everything, that’ got to give you a warm fuzzy, huh? They think passing a law takes care of any problems, right?
“What’s most striking about the targeting procedures is the discretion they confer on the NSA,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security program.
If you have any experience with government, you know then that when the word “discretion” is used in relation to describing how they can do their job, it means it is up to interpretation. Their interpretation. You know, the old “wink, wink, nudge, nudge”
I’m sorry, but given what I’ve seen around the world and studied about other governments in my lifetime, I’m not happy with any part of government exercising “discretion” in that sense, especially when they could easily use their discretion to violate my rights. And in the case of the NSA and many other government agencies, I believe that’s more than a possibility, I put it in the probability category (human nature 101).
In figuring out whether a target is “reasonably believed” to be located overseas, for example, the agency looks at the “totality of the circumstances” relating to a person’s location. In the absence of that specific information, “a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States or whose location is not known will be presumed to be a non-United States person,” according to rules on the targeting of suspects.
“Yeah, you know, I’m not sure about that location so we’ll assume it’s a “non-United States” person.” How hard would that be?
But hey, don’t you feel secure?