Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hillary, Obama and Now Kerry -- Is an Email Cover-up Underway?

As we wait for Iowa to vote amid a weekend flurry of candidate appeals and pundit predictions, the most bizarre comment came from Secretary of State John Kerry, who refused to say that his predecessor Hillary Clinton had top secret information on her private server or whether her acts had threatened national security. President Obama has already said there was not a serious error. Kerry said it was not a matter for his office. Kerry made it seem the State Department he heads has nothing to do with the scandal : "The seven emails, or a few emails at any rate, are being withheld at the request of the intelligence community itself. I can't speak to the specifics of anything with regard to the technicalities, the contents, what may or may not have taken place with respect to her personal server because that's not our job. We don't do that." Even more odd, Kerry tacked on a whopper of a statement : "We don't know about it. It's in other hands." So, Secretary Kerry's position is that the State Department's responsibility was limited to releasing emails under a Freedom of Information Act court order, not to evaluating : "That is why it is happening at this moment. And that literally is all I am able to say about them -- not because I won't, but because we don't have any of the other information. It's not our information. We don't make any judgments about it. That is in other hands." ~~~~~ The State Department is reading 55,000 pages of Hillary emails she dumped on the Department in the least usable format possible - paper - then marking in black all classified information before release and passing the marked emails to other agencies and Intell for comment. Did John Kerry appoint the email readers? Did he give guidance about their email classified information task? Does he get progress updates? Has he tried to improve State classification rules? Or, did he ask to be kept out of the most important scandal ever to hit the Department he heads? ~~~~~ Newsmax published a weekend interview with Howard Krongard, State Department Inspector General from 2005 to 2008, who says State never set up a government email address for Clinton and so the State Department isn't telling the truth when it claims it didn't know about Clinton's use of a private email server for official business. For Krongard, "This was all planned in advance," saying the purpose was to get around rules on federal records management. "That’s a change in the standard," he said, noting that previous Secretaries had email accounts. "It tells me that this was premeditated...and eliminates claims by the State Department that they were unaware of her private e-mail server until later." Krongard said there was no State Department Inspector General for more than 5 years from 2009 to 2013 -- Clinton's entire tenure : "This is a major's without precedent...the longest period any department has gone without an IG." It's "clear" Clinton didn't want to be subject to internal investigations, he said. An audit of the emails of her and her staff would have shown that secret information was being sent over Clnton's nonsecure system : "The starting point of an investigation is the material going through SIPRNet [State's classified system]. She couldn’t function without the information coming over SIPRNet. How did she get it on her home server? It can't just jump from one system to the other. Someone had to move it, copy it. The question is who?" ~~~~~ Dear readers, the State Department said Friday that emails were removed from the latest batch because they may contain top secret information. Was Kerry advised of this before the emails were withheld from the FOIA court-ordered release? Did he agree? Does he know what Top Secret information is in the emails and the dangers posed by their nonsecure distribution? Is Kerry or Obama performing his official classification duties? Or is Kerry under a White House order to say nothing -- in another coverup to protect Obama and his senior officials from criminal investigation?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Saturday Politics : Italian PM Matteo Renzi, an EU Leader-in-Waiting

Saturday politics - Europe : 40% of Germans want Chancellor Angela Merkel to resign, and 45% say she shouldn't, according to a Friday poll. It's the strongest sign yet of deep frustration with her open door policy for Middle East and African refugees and migrants. She's being isolated, both in the European Union and at home -- as conservatives in her governing coalition demand a tougher plan for asylum seekers, and EU allies refuse quotas. ~~~~~ Tuesday, Merkel’s conservative Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, sent her a letter threatening Constitutional Court action if her federal government doesn't resolve the refugee crisis. The Bavarian Interior and Justice Ministers issued a joint statement demanding action. Merkel’s open door policy has outraged Bavaria. Recently, a Bavarian district head sent a busload of 30 refugees to Merkel’s Berlin office, saying his district can't handle any more refugees. Thursday, Merkel's coalition agreed to tighter asylum rules in a compromise plan to slow migrant flow. It isn't clear if the new plan fully satisfies Bavaria. ~~~~~ Merkel also faces criticism for her migrant policy from other EU leaders, including Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi whom she met with Friday. German-Italian relations are tense over migration, austerity and energy supplies. Renzi recently declared that Italy is not subordinate to Germany. He wants growth to replace austerity. He's angry that Germany’s Nord Stream pipeline project with Russia is securing its own energy supplies while Merkel pressures the rest of the EU to back Russian economic sanctions in the Ukraine crisis. And for the past year, Italy has been left alone to handle thousands of migrants landing on its southern shores in flimsy boats -- which hasn't kept Germany from criticizing Italy’s failure to fingerprint new arrivals, who can therefore seek asylum elsewhere in the EU, often Germany. Now, Merkel is talking about a mini-Schengen no-passport zone -- Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and the Netherlands -- to teach Italy and Greece a lesson. Renzi has decided that Italy, the easygoing major EU state, will fight back. He says Italy has made progress with reforms and now German-led austerity must be replaced, or eased, to create jobs badly needed in Italy and all over the EU, except in Germany. Italian ministers privately say some powerful EU states interpret EU rules to benefit themselves, and that Italy should also have this flexibility -- especially for its 2016 budget. ~~~~~ With Italian finesse, on Friday, Renzi made Merkel an offer she couldn’t refuse -- give Italy more financial flexibility and Italy will stop slamming Germany and bashing the EU. So simple. With the refugee crisis deepening, the UK preparing to vote on leaving the EU, and multiple economic pressures, Merkel can’t afford an open fight with Italy. Just as Renzi can't afford more austerity. Even with reform, Italy has the highest EU debt after Greece, at 133% of GDP. Under EU fiscal rules, Italy should adopt more austerity. But Renzi, regarded as Italy’s best, maybe last, hope for meaningful reform, wants "flexibility.” That is : cut Rome some slack with its numbers. Renzi’s Merkel trump card is the refugee crisis. She's politically exposed by her deal with Turkey to keep Syrian refugees from heading to Europe. The deal's glue is €3 billion for Turkey, which Renzi is blocking. The agreement was signed in November, but Turkey won’t act until it's paid. Without the Turkey deal, Merkel’s refugee strategy will collapse. Because Greece has not succeeded to secure its sea borders with Turkey, Turkey must hold the refugees in its territory. Renzi holds the money and also notes Italy's mediation between eurosceptic Britain and europhile Germany and France. Italy would benefit from reduced German/French domination. If its mediation helps avert a catastrophic exit by the UK -- the EU’s #2 economy and one of its two major military powers -- then Italy may say it helped save the EU. A deal Merkel can't refuse. And perhaps an Italian EU leader-in-waiting.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It's Time for the Republican Party to Support Trump as Candidate

The Thursday GOP presidential debate lost its star and glitter when Donald Trump decided to leave Fox News in the mess it so completely deserved after publicly belittling a US candidate for President. Fox and CEO Roger Ailes crossed the line from serious journalism and respect for the presidency to slapstick yellow journalism, and Trump said, in effect, Stop, and organized an evening of tribute and support for American Veterans. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum will join him after their early-show second tier debate. The rest of the Republican candidates would do the right thing if they abandoned Fox News and joined Trump. We know that won't happen because Fox News is their ticket into conservative American living rooms. ~~~~~ And that is the second reason Donald Trump was right to walk away from Fox News -- no news outlet should be a dictator to either the Republican Party or its candidates. Trump is proving that Fox is not the GOP kingmaker -- unless the party and Republican National Committee kowtow to Ailes because it is free publicity and eliminates actually needing to do their jobs. Trump, while refusing to be bought by Fox -- who Trump says apologized to him -- has nevertheless convinced 64% of Republican-leaning voters that he will be the GOP presidential nominee, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. And other polls support Trump's lock on the race to the White House. **According to an NBC/WSJ/Marist poll, Trump leads Ted Cruz in Iowa, 32% to 25%. Marco Rubio rounds out the top three at 18%. **In New Hampshire, a Suffolk University poll shows Trump leads Cruz and Kasich, 27% to 12%. An NBC/WSJ/Marist poll has Trump ahead of Cruz, 31% to 12%. Kasich and Rubio trail both at 11%. **In South Carolina, an NBC/WSJ/Marist poll finds Trump leading Cruz, 36% to 20%. Rubio completes the top three at 14%. **And as far out as the Pennsylvania primary, a Franklin & Marshall poll has Trump ahead of Cruz, 24% to 14%. Rubio trails both at 11%. ~~~~~ Dear readers, what we need now is for all the lower-polling Republican candidates to withdraw and support a party unity ticket with Trump as the presidential candidate and a more conservative Republican as VP -- logically Cruz, Huckabee or Rubio, or a popular conservative not now running. The GOP has an obligation to America to be sure that neither a socialist nor a liar becomes President. And conservative and establishment Republicans have an obligation to America to accept the candidate preferred by their party's voters and help him to be elected. America's future is to continue as a constitutional republic that respects individual rights and supports the US economic system that improved the living standards of all Americans through the Reagan era. Now, we have an America with a trashed economy, a demoralized military, and irrational racial and political division under a Democratic President, who sees America's future as a socialist European welfare state. This is not the time for petty Republican family arguments. It is time to Make America Great Again.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Big Guns Are Out : Ailes, Murdoch, Bloomberg vs. TRUMP

Newsmax said Wednesday the only person at Fox News Donald Trump will talk to about his stunning decision to boycott Thursday's presidential debate is owner and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. New York magazine reports that after Trump made his announcement he wouldn't take calls from Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. The magazine reports the feud has shaken Fox News, raising issues about Ailes' future. New York magazine says Ailes' leadership at Fox News generates $1 billion in profit, adding : "But in recent months Murdoch has been attending news meetings at Fox in the wake of a health scare that forced Ailes to take an extended leave of absence. Succession planning at Fox is very much on Murdoch's agenda. If Ailes loses his grip on the Trump situation -- and right now it looks like he is -- Murdoch will have another reason to worry about the stability of his most valuable asset." New York magazine also reports there is now a split at Fox News about Megyn Kelly -- whom Trump has been criticizing since the first Fox News debate August 6 -- between allies like Brit Hume and conservative anchors angry "that Kelly has become the face of the network." The magazine says one unnamed anchor was furious that Kelly hosted Michael Moore on her program Tuesday -- and that the leftist filmmaker defended her against Trump. "That would be like Rachel Maddow laughing along with Charles Koch as he trashed Hillary Clinton!" New York magazine quotes the anchor saying. New York magazine says that even if Trump's boycott backfires : "he's already achieved an historic victory by exploding the myth that a Republican candidate can't openly challenge Fox." ~~~~~ Meanwhile, GOP Senators think Ted Cruz would reduce the party's chances of keeping its majority, saying Cruz is so polarizing, it could mean losses for GOP Senators running for re-election. Trump is not a favorite of GOP senators, but they feel he has more crossover appeal with independents and swing voters. And while they find many of his comments annoying, they like him more than they do Cruz. ~~~~~ And that brings us to Michael Bloomberg, billionaire former mayor of New York City, who became a member of the New York Independent Party while serving as NYC's GOP mayor. Bloomberg was frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for President in 2008 and 2012, and for Governor of New York in 2010. He declined both offices, instead continuing to serve as mayor of New York City. He is a moderate, favoring stricter gun control and global warming causes. In December, Bloomberg said he would only run if he thought he could win, adding that he could't win. But, now he suggests that if Trump and Sanders are the candidates, he would consider running as an Independent. ~~~~~ And that brings us back to Rupert Murdoch, who is urging Michael Bloomberg to throw his hat in the ring and run for President. Murdoch tweeted : "This is Bloomberg's last chance. You never know until your hat is in the ring!" Murdoch added, probably referring to Trump's boycott of Thursday's GOP presidential debate on his Fox News Channel : "Events change everything, especially during elections." It's Murdoch's second tweet in the past week about Bloomberg, who is worth $49 billion and says he would spend $1 billion if he runs. Murdoch thinks Bloomberg may hurt Clinton more than Trump if he runs as an Independent. But, Murdoch's Bloomberg play could make negotiating a return to the debate with Trump a bit sticky. ~~~~~ And, dear readers, there are some facts that Murdoch, Bloomberg, and especially the Republican Party, should consider. A majority of Republican-leaning voters now believe Trump will be the GOP presidential nominee, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday. Those polled said: Donald Trump: 64%, Ted Cruz: 12%. The poll found Trump's support is based on anti-establishment / anti-immigrant sentiment, and by economic discontent and a broad sense that he'd be the party's most electable pick." The Big Guns are out. But they better have their facts when they take on The Donald.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Holocaust Remembrance Day : Auschwitz Was Liberated 70 Years Ago

January 27, 1945. Auschweitz was liberated. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2016, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, it is fitting to listen carefully to the voices of witnesses - both victims and survivors. Their words are the heritage of all humankind. ~~~~~ "THEY EXPECTED THE WORST - NOT THE UNTHINKABLE." The words of Charlotte Delbo (1913 - 1985), a French writer, former prisoner of Auschwitz and Ravensbrück. She was an active member of the French Resistance, working, among other tasks, as an editor of underground newspapers. In March 1942, she was arrested by the Germans. After an investigation which lasted several months, in January 1943 she was deported to Auschwitz together with 229 other women of the resistance. Delbo received camp number 31,661. Author of many books, including "Aucun de nous ne reviendra" ("None of Us Will Return"). This quote is from the book "Auschwitz and After." ~~~~~ "NIGHT, NIGHT WITHOUT END. NO DAWN COMES." The words of Tadeusz Borowski (1922 - 1951), a Polish writer and poet, former prisoner of Auschwitz, Natzweiler-Dautmergen and Dachau-Allach. In February 1943, he was arrested by the Gestapo while he was searching for his fiancée Maria, whom the Germans had previously taken. Both were detained in Pawiak Prison and then deported to Auschwitz. Borowski received camp number 119,198. After the war he described his camp experiences in poems and short stories. This quote is from his poem "Night over Birkenau."~~~~~ "WE, THE DEAD, ACCUSE!" The words from the poem of an anonymous Jewish Czech woman. As she walked to the gas chamber on March 8, 1944, she managed to hand her notes to one of the Sonderkommando prisoners. A poem written by her was sent from the camp to the city of Prague. In 1945 it was published as a part of a collection of selected poems, edited by Erich Kulka and Ota Kraus. ~~~~~ "WE HAVE A DARK PREMONITION BECAUSE WE KNOW." The words of Załmen Gradowski (ca. 1910 - 1944), a Polish Jew and former prisoner of Auschwitz. In November 1942, he was deported to the camp in Kiełbasin; in December, he was deported to Auschwitz with his whole family. During the selection on the ramp he lost his wife, mother and two sisters. He was forcefully conscripted to the Sonderkomanndo in Birkenau, and was one of the prisoners behind the Birkenau revolt of October 1944. It is possible that he was killed the same day during combat, or shot by the SS during the repressions after the revolt. He was the author of two scripts written in Yiddish, which he hid and which were later discovered after the war on the premises of Birkenau. This quote is from his manuscripts. ~~~~~ Dear readers, the Holocaust, which resulted in the destruction of nearly two-thirds of European Jewry, remains one of the most painful reminders of the world’s failure to protect the Jewish people for centuries before and during World War II. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Jewish media expert Oren Osterer in a podcast for International Holocaust Remembrance Day that anti-Semitism in Germany is “more widespread than we imagine.” Merkel said it is especially important to reach young people coming to Germany from countries where hatred of Israel and Jews is common. “You can try arguing again and again” to reeducate Holocaust deniers or anti-Semites, but in the end “you also have to set clearer boundaries...and let them know that this has no place in our society." The Chancellor, who attended Monday’s opening of an exhibition of 100 pieces of art by victims and survivors of ghettos and concentration camps, said she was moved that Israel’s Yad Vashem Memorial had been willing to send these items to Germany : “It shows that there is a close cooperation and a certain trust” between Germany and Israel’s Holocaust memorial. “It is something emotional and reminds us that we have an everlasting responsibility for what happened in the past -- for the Shoah. It is very, very important that each generation faces this German history, that each generation recognizes this history."

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Townhall : What If Hillary Were Elected and then Faced Impeachment

"Wicked smart" -- that's how President Obama described Hillary Clinton to Politico yesterday. If Obama had just said "wicked," many would agree. When he was asked if Sanders’s underdog campaign reminds him of his own, Obama said, “I don’t think that’s true.” He said : “Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete long shot and just letting loose. I think Hillary came in with the both privilege - and burden - of being perceived as the frontrunner… You’re always looking at the bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before - that’s a disadvantage to her.” Obama contrasted Clinton's pragmatism and experience with Sanders' idealism and liberalism. He said Clinton's experience taught her to "campaign more in prose than poetry." In one week, we'll have the Iowa caucus results and know whether Obama helped Hillary in her desperate effort to stop the Bernie Sanders freight train. ~~~~~ Clinton squared off on Sanders Monday in an Iowa Townhall put together hastily by CNN and the Democratic National Committee in what some called DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz' effort to boost Hillary's sagging poll numbers. An indication of how serious a threat Clinton faces from Sanders was her Townhall attack on him about foreign policy and healthcare -- and questioning his ability to carry out his proposals. The ghost of her 2008 Iowa primary loss against then-Senator Barack Obama haunts her -- he wounded her campaign and she never recovered. This week, Clintonland will go all-in to damage Sanders, who now has a real chance of winning in Iowa and beyond. Because Sanders is almost certain to win in New Hampshire, an Iowa victory would give Sanders a 2-0 lead over Clinton, a scenario that would shake up the Democratic Party's world. To win in Iowa, Sanders needs new caucus-goers, especially young millenium voters, and a big turnout from all liberal Democrats. And he needs to keep on talking in real language to real people about real issues. As for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, because the Iowa Democrat caucus rules require votes for candidates getting less than 15% in the first round to be given to another candidate who hit the 15% threshhold -- he polls at 5% and will not reach the threshold -- his supporters will either join one of the two major candidates or go home -- as O’Malley himself might do after Iowa or New Hampshire. ~~~~~ Now...Let's imagine. Imagine Hillary Clinton is elected and has been President for a year when growing scandal finally envelops her presidency and prompts a constitutional crisis that ends in impeachment. White House aides and Cabinet officers are compromised. It becomes clear that Clinton has misled them personally, as well as the country, when she angrily denied hiding classified emails on her private server as Secretary of State, lied to the FBI about it, lied to Congress about her Benghazi cover-up, and used her position as Secretary of State to give favorable treatment to foreign governments in return for their contributions to the Clinton Foundation. What would happen? America would be gripped in a tug of war between wanting to preserve the first woman's presidency and being appalled by that President's pattern of unethical conduct. The country would for the second time freeze up under a Clinton presidency. The angry partisanship of 1998 would re-emerge. The nation's business, reputation and world leadership would be put on hold. Whether Hillary Clinton survived or not, great damage would have been done to America once more. ~~~~~ Dear readers, think about that as you evaluate the Iowa Townhall. Iowans, think about that as you caucus on February 1st. American Democrats, think about that as you choose your 2016 presidential standard bearer. Is one person -- who is half of a fading political dynasty -- worth more than the honor of America ??

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Germany and the EU Need Merkel Because There Isn't Anyone Else

Angela Merkel's room to maneuver shrank last week when Austria said it would impose an upper limit on refugees, suggesting Germany may need to do the same to maintain social order. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said German police are turning away 100 to 200 people at the border each day who do not quality for asylum. Open Sweden is imposing stricter border controls. EU states to the east of Germany simply refuse to take asylum seekers. Resistance to the open-door refugee policy is Merkel's biggest crisis in the ten years she has led Germany and, de facto, the EU. Merkel looks for help from coalition partner Bavaria, the region where most asylum seekers arrive, but the response is mostly negative. Her hold on the chancellery is openly questioned by coalition rebels. She signaled last Wednesday she’ll give diplomacy another month, during which she has planned talks with Turkish leaders, an international donor conference on Syrian refugee aid in London, and an EU leaders summit where the refugee crisis “must play a central role,” Merkel says. With the other 27 EU leaders thus far unwilling to share Germany’s burden, Merkel seems to be pursuing a coalition of the willing, relying less on EU countries taking refugee quotas, and instead pushing for reception centers to be built on Europe's external borders, as well as cajoling Turkey into halting the flow of migrants through its territory and taking back some refugees. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says Merkel has two months to get the refugee numbers under control : “We need to get a grip on this issue in the next six-to-eight weeks. When spring comes the numbers will quadruple, or at least go up significantly.” Merkel says she won’t be the one reverse passport-free travel and commerce in Europe, the central achievement of the EU. But, after sexual assaults on women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve, her position is much more difficult. ~~~~~ There was good news for Merkel on Sunday when UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening said Britain might take refugee children displaced by the war in Syria, who have travelled to other countries in Europe. Greening said the UK government was considering whether it could do more for the 3,000 such children who are in Europe. Asked whether Britain would agree to admit the children, Greening told Sky News : "That's what we are doing and I think that is the right thing." And Thursday, President Obama spoke by telephone with Merkel, promising to support efforts to ease the refugee crisis. The chancellor's spokesman Steffen Seibert said : "The President promised that the US government would contribute substantially." Obama also said he hopes to host a summit for world leaders in September, to secure new commitments to help address the issue. The White House said : "The two leaders committed to working together over the coming months to help protect and provide for the millions of people whose lives have been upturned by war." ~~~~~ For many Germans, the refugee crisis is out of control. Immigrants flow into Germany in large numbers. Sexual assaults and violence in Cologne and other cities on New Year’s Eve undermine government credibility and police ability to ensure law and order. A migrant who recently tried to attack a Paris police station had registered for German asylum -- four times with four different identities. And, terrorism and asylum are fused after ten Germans were killed by a suicide bomber from Syria in Istanbul. ~~~~~ Dear readers, despite all the bad news, the German public supports Merkel. An ARD survey released Friday shows a steady 38% would still vote for her party -- 44% of Germans say they still believe Merkel’s “can do” approach to the crisis will work. Merkel has no apparent challenger, and the man most often seen as a potential heir, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, rose forcefully to defend her last week and went with her to Bavaria. Angela Merkel is not yet defeated, and Germany and the EU are probably better off for her determined presence. Who else is there?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Saturday Politics : Hillary All-Stars, Hanoi Jane and the National Review -- Presidential Politics Can Be Amusing

Saturday politics. Sometimes, politics is downright amusing. ~~~~~ Republican leaders are standing in line to drive a stake through the heart of the Republican presidential candidate who's leading by wide margins in every poll in every state, and nationally. We might think Donald Trump is Dracula in Disguise when Senator Lindsey Graham says the choice between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is “like being shot or poisoned.” And obviously hankering for the good ole 1964 days when they lost the White House by temper-tantruming their way to the nomination of Barry Goldwater, an ideologically pure mistake that Ronald Reagan needed 16 years to correct -- the venerable conservative journal National Review, founded by William F. Buckley, published a special issue Friday opposing Donald Trump's presidential bid. The entire issue is devoted to calling Trump a threat to conservatism. Essays by 22 prominent conservative thinkers tear apart the candidate their party's voters greatly prefer. The editorial stated : "Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot on behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as The Donald himself." (Really, fellows? I thought that was your specialty.) The last word went to the Republican National Committee, which dropped National Review from debate sponsorship because of its attack on Trump. National Review was to have participated in a February 25 debate. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, as is his custom, hasn't said anything yet. But, we will : "Way to go, Reince. To the self-cannibalism of the National Review, your RNC has added a touch of press censorship." ~~~~~ The GOP pillow fight is nothing compared to the full-frontal food fight now underway in the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton is so panicked about losing the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries to Senator Bernie Sanders that Clintonworld has dispatched her fabulous team of all-star surrogates to canvas the two states, looking for pockets of voters they might appeal to. Her all-star team includes left-leaning African American Senator Cory Booker, left-leaning millennial celebrity Lena Dunham of “Girls” fame, pop singer Katy Perry, soccer hero Abby Wambach, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former President Bill Clinton and first daughter Chelsea. But, polls show Sanders rising, 27 points ahead in New Hampshire and 8 points ahead in Iowa. Analysts say people don’t care about surrogates. That must be especially true when leftist celebrities and politicians go into two states that are more than 90% white conservative farmers and small-town business people and employees. We have to ask if Hillary knows anything at all about Iowa or New Hampshire. At least Albright can look voters in the eye and say she never violated classified email rules. ~~~~~ Saving the biggest laugh for last -- Jane Fonda is organizing a 'Dump Trump' Campaign. Hanoi Jane can only help him. She was accused of "aiding and abetting" the enemy, North Vietnam, when she went to Hanoi in July 1972 to be photographed with North Vietnamese at an anti-aircraft gun a few hundred yards from the "Hanoi Hilton" where American POWs were being tortured. Fonda called returning POWs "hypocrites and liars....These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed....Pilots were saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic. I believe that's a lie." Years later, under enormous pressure, Fonda admitted to former American POWs and their families that she regretted the pain she caused them. Few have ever accepted her apology. In 2005, Fonda confirmed to CBS she did not regret her 1972 trip to North Vietnam : "There are hundreds of American delegations that had met with the POWs. Both sides were using the POWs for propaganda... It's not something that I will apologize for." ~~~~~ Dear readers, it is the Democratic Party that is a menace to America. It can't even run a campaign without making us laugh all the way to the White House.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Are Obama and Khamenei Best Friends Forever?

Reuters reported this week that three US citizens of Iraqi origin who vanished last week in Baghdad were kidnapped and are now held by an Iranian-backed shiite militia. Reuters' information came from Iraqi intelligence and US government sources. Iraqi officials said gunmen seized the three Friday from an apartment in Baghdad's Dora district. A police colonel told the Washington Post the Dora area is controlled by shiite militias, including Iran-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq - League of the Righteous. The colonel said the three had been invited to their Iraqi interpreter's home. But a resident of the apartment building where they were seized said they were taken from an apartment he described as a well-known brothel. The police agreed. The resident said the apartment is frequently raided by Asaib Ahl ­al-Haq, although usually the men found inside are simply told to leave. Baghdad Operations Command described the apartment as “suspicious.” An Iraqi lawmaker told the Post : “They went to an inappropriate place. Iraqi security forces are working very hard now to locate them.” ~~~~~ US sources told Reuters that America has no reason to believe Iran was involved in the kidnapping and does not believe the trio are being held in Iran, which borders Iraq. Reuters says the Iraqi government is trying to control shiite militias that fought the US military during the Iraq War and have been accused of killing and abducting US nationals. Baghdad-based analyst Hisham al-Hashemi told Reuters : "The militias are resentful of the success of the army in Ramadi which was achieved with the support of the US-led coalition and without their involvement." Asked about the kidnapping at a State Department news briefing on Tuesday, spokesman John Kirby declined to say whether Secretary of State John Kerry had contacted Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif about the three. ~~~~~ It may only be a coincidence that on Saturday, the US lifted sanctions on Iran after the UN's IAEA certified Iran had fulfilled its end of the nuclear deal. That same day, five Americans were released from Iranian custody in a prisoner swap. Then, on Sunday, the US paid $1.7 billion to Iran to settle an old claim -- the return of Iran’s $400 million military equipment trust fund frozen in 1979, plus what President Obama called “appropriate interest” of $1.3 billion. Tuesday, the White House rejected claims the payment and swap were tied. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said critics are wrong to call it a "ransom" for the American prisoners. ~~~~~ It may also be coincidental that Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Wednesday thanked the Revolutionary Guards for "arresting" US sailors last week : "I didn't have the opportunity to thank the young soldiers in the Revolutionary Guards. What they did in the Persian Gulf was right. The politicians should do the same and stop the enemies with full power if they cross the line anywhere." On Tuesday, Khamenei welcomed the implementation of the nuclear deal and lifting of sanctions, but warned that Teheran should remain wary of its old enemy the United States and its "deceit and treachery." ~~~~~ Dear readers, Patrick Buchanan wrote a piece for the American Conservative this week that slams those who think Iran is lying about its nuclear intentions, arguing that Iran is only seeking economic development : "Iran’s regime seems to have concluded that the path to power and permanence of the regime lies not in conflict with the United States, but in avoiding conflict and taking the China road." But there's a flaw in Buchanan's argument. China's move to a more open economy hasn't made it stop aggressively infringing on its Asian neighbors, harassing Hong Kong, terrorizing domestic dissenters, or using profits to agitate world trouble spots. Nor will an open-market Iran stop its use of Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthi to terrrorize the Middle East, make nuclear bombs, or try to destroy Israel. We know, and Obama knows, it won't keep Iran from taking more US hostages to use in manipulating America, "the Great Satan." Ransom or payment ??

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What Message Will Iowa Send to Hillary?

In one year - January 21, 2017 - a newly inaugurated American President will be at work in the Oval Office on his first day on the job. And it is finally looking like it won't be Hillary Clinton. ~~~~~ NBC just reported, based on a document it obtained, that emails from Hillary Clinton's home server contained information classified at levels higher than previously known, including a level meant to protect some of the most sensitive US intelligence. In the document, a letter to lawmakers, the intelligence community's internal watchdog says some of Clinton's emails contained information classified "Top Secret/Special Access Program" -- a secrecy designation that includes some of the most closely held US intelligence matters. Two American intelligence officials told NBC these are not the same two Clinton emails already reported as containing Top Secret information. Clinton has repeatedly said none of the information she sent or received while Secretary of State was marked classified. But, NBC says : "it's become clear that classified information bled in the emails, which were sent over unencrypted channels open to interception by foreign intelligence agencies." The letter by Charles McCulllough, the intelligence community inspector general, was sent to the chairmen of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees to explain that he had received sworn declarations from an intelligence agency he didn't name, showing that "several dozen emails containing classified information determined by the IC element to be at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET/SAP information" levels were found. An intelligence official told NBC the Special Access Program is so sensitive that McCullough and some of his aides had to receive clearance before viewing the sworn declaration about the Clinton emails. ~~~~~ In addition, a new CNN/WMUR poll puts Bernie Sanders up by 27 points over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. The poll gives Sanders much better numbers than other polls do, but all recent surveys in New Hampshire make Sanders the favorite to win the February 9 Democrat primary. And, Sanders has skyrocketing favorability ratings. The CNN/WMUR poll finds 91% of likely New Hampshire Democrat primary voters view him favorably, compared to only 7% who view him unfavorably. If that's true, there's nothing Clinton can do to beat Sanders in New Hampshire. ~~~~~ Iowa's likely Democratic primary voters are evenly split between Clinton and Sanders, with 2 points either way separating them. This, and New Hampshire polls widely favoring Sanders, might be explained by Fred Barnes' comment in the Wall Street Journal yesterday : "Presidential races are about the future and Hillary Clinton is stuck in the past. That pretty much explains why her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 has slumped. Mrs. Clinton is not attuned to the political situation she faces. Her experience, family and fame aren’t much help. This year, angry voters have turned increasingly to populist, anti-establishment and future-oriented candidates. As a status quo candidate, she doesn’t fit the moment." ~~~~~ Faced with losing both Iowa and New Hampshire to Senator Sanders, Hillary has turned to South Carolina -- where polls have her ahead of Sanders, 69% to 27% -- to build 'a firewall' of African-American support in that state and beyond by lining up solidly with President Obama. But, despite Hillary's huge poll leads with African-Americans, an unnamed influential black Democrat told NBC : "In an election year when just about every narrative, every piece of conventional wisdom, has been turned on its head, I’m at a loss for words when the media talk about a firewall. There is no wall, no more.” ~~~~~ Dear readers, Hillary may be wrong thinking that siding with President Obama will help her. Obama wasted his opportunity to improve conditions for African-Americans, who lag all other US groups in wages, employment and education -- Bernie Sanders' lifelong agenda items. And, Hillary has a criminal indictment hanging over her. Watch for Iowa's message.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Was the Farsi Island US Sailors Detention Staged for Political Reasons?

A January 16 Thomas Lifson blog quoted former Navy SEAL Matt Bracken's contradiction of official accounts of what caused two US boats to be captured and taken to Farsi Island -- where there's a major Iranian naval base, including Revolutionary Guard to protect Iran interests in the 'Persian' Gulf. Bracken's analysis is that all riverine boats have radar and multiple GPS devices, including chart plotters with a boat's icon on the chart : "For an open-water transit...the course is...planned in advance by the leaders of the Riverine Squadron, with specific attention given to staying wide and clear of any hostile nation's claimed territorial waters. The boats are given a complete mechanical check...and...sufficient fuel to accomplish their mission plus extra. boat broke down, the other would tow it, that's why two boats go on these trips....It's called "self-rescue" and it's SOP....I can state with complete confidence that both Iran and our own State Department are lying. The boats did not enter Iranian waters. They were overtaken in international waters by Iranian patrol boats that were so superior in both speed and firepower that it became a hands-up situation, with automatic cannons in the 40mm to 76mm range pointed at them point-blank....This takedown was no accident or coincidence, it was a planned slap across America's face....The released sailors will be ordered not to say a word...and the Iranians will have taken every GPS device, chart-plotter etc off the boats, so that we will not be able to prove where our boats were taken. The 'strayed into Iranian waters' story being put out by Iran and our...State Department is utter and complete BS." ~~~~~ A later update from Bracken added : "The Iranians would have known to the minute when the boats were leaving Kuwait, and their probable course to Bahrain, so an intercept would be simple....if the Iranians jam our boats so they cannot communicate, and then swoop in....overwhelming them with numbers at’s a fait accompli....Once they have control of our boats, they can drive them to Farsi Island, and remove every single GPS device, radar, cell phone etc. Then, there can be no proof of where the attack happened. And worst of all, Obama and Kerry are happy to go along with the lie, in order not to upset the nuclear deal applecart." ~~~~~ The US version of events hasn't altered. The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday about new details released by the US military Monday : the boats veered into Iranian waters, and then one of them experienced a mechanical problem; the only equipment taken from the boats are two digital SIM cards that were in two satellite phones; the boats were expected to receive fuel alongside the Coast Guard cutter Monomoy in international waters around 2 pm.; at 2:10, the Navy received a report that the sailors were being approached by Iranians; by 2:29, it was hard to reach the US boats; and by 2:45, US Naval Central Command (NAVCENT) was notified that...communications with the sailors were lost : "Immediately, NAVCENT initiated an intensive search and rescue operation with aircraft from USS Harry S. Truman, the US Air Force, US Coast Guard, UK Royal Navy and US Navy surface vessels....NAVCENT...notified Iranian coast guard units via 6:15 pm (GMT), USS Anzio received a communication from the Iranians that the RCB sailors were in Iranian custody." The Monday military release said : "At some point one RCB had...a mechanical issue...which caused the crews to stop....the second RCB also Iranian territorial waters, although it's not clear the crew was aware of this." ~~~~~ Dear readers, we still don't know how or why the sailors ended up in Iranian territorial waters. Bracken doesn't offer a reason for the Iranian "slap" in the face. But, the known facts support the idea that the entire affair was fake -- staged to make Iran and Obama/Kerry look like good guys before the lifting of sanctions and $150 billion injection into the world's great terrorism financier. The affair was staged to provide political cover.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Weak Rouhani, Hostages, and Questions about Iran's Nuclear Goals

Some key facts will mark the future US - Iran relationship. ~~~~~ (1). ROUHANI'S ROLE. In public speeches and private meetings, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has clearly said the US will remain Iran's enemy. This is key because under Iran's constitution, Khamenei, not President Rouhani, has the last word, and he will back hardliners in their domestic political fight with Rouhani's "moderates." Khamenei constitutionally controls : the Guardian Council that vets laws and election candidates; the judiciary; security forces; public broadcasters; and, foundations that control much of the economy. So, before February parliamentary elections, hardliners will have Khamenei support against pro-Rouhani candidates, who will face mass disqualifications. An unnamed pro-reform journalist told western media : "They will compensate for Rouhani's victory by more arrests of activists and more journalists will be summoned by the courts." In this regard, moderate leaders Moussavi and Karoubi are still under house arrest after mass protests against the allegedly rigged presidential election of Ahmadinejad in 2009. In addition, some analysts say Rouhani, who represented Khamenei at the Supreme National Security Council for 20 years, lacks the will to resist hardliner pressure against social reforms many young Iranians demand. Rouhani has criticized crackdowns but has done little to stop them. So, we can't expect Rouhani to lead a real Iranian move toward moderation. (2). IRAN STILL USES POLITICAL HOSTAGES. It continues to hold two Americans. And Sunday as the Swiss plane carrying the American hostage/prisoners was ready to leave Teheran, Iran tried to prevent the Iranian wife of one American from going with him, despite prior assurances. Iran also has a history of hostage torture. So, Western business people might want to avoid traveling to Iran while random hostage-taking is part of Khamenei's hardline diplomacy. (3). THE NUCLEAR DEAL IS THE FACADE OF IRAN'S NUCLEAR GOALS. Rouhani said Monday Iran will not breach its nuclear deal with world powers as long as the West also honors its commitments : " Iran is morally and religiously committed not to seek weapons of mass destruction." But, the US, the EU and the UN have agreed to a deal under which International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have access to suspect sites only after 24 days -- time enough for Iran to hide forbidden activities. If Iran refuses access, it faces the possibility of UN sanctions being reimposed. But that's unlikely because it would require EU agreement and it is Europe that's most anxious to re-enter the Iran commercial market. In addition, the IAEA may not want to sanction Iran -- in December, it closed its long-running inquiry into whether Iran once had a secret nuclear weapons program, opting to support Teheran's deal with world powers rather than dwell on its past bad acts. Rouhani will visit Italy and France next week on his first post-sanctions trip to Europe, a diplomatic source said Monday. Rouhani will visit Rome and Paris. On his first day in Italy he will meet Pope Francis. So, it would be foolish to count on Europe to be tough on Iran. ~~~~~ Dear readers, As for White House clemency to seven Iranians convicted or facing trial in the US, or its removal of Interpol detention requests and charges against 14 Iranians overseas, Reuters has identified the clemency cases and the US Justice Department on Sunday confirmed them. Prosecutors also moved to dismiss some overseas cases early Saturday, before the release of the Americans jailed in Iran was announced. What were they convicted of or charged with? -- shipping electronics to Iran / helping Iran launch its first satellite in exchange for a $10 million payment / trying to export US-built marine navigation devices to Iran / helping cyber attacks against a US defense contractor / helping to ship thousands of Chinese parts "with nuclear applications" to Iran / exporting to Iran US-built pressure transducers used in nuclear centrifuges. No Iran nuclear weapons program? You decide. I already have.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Obama Now Responsible for Iran's Nuclear-enhanced Terrorism

On Sunday evening, a Swiss plane carrying three freed Americans landed in Geneva from Teheran with three Americans, part of a US-Iran prisoner swap -- Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post Teheran bureau chief, Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Idaho, and Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Flint, Michigan. Another freed American, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, didn't leave Teheran and there's no news about why he stayed in Iran. A fifth American, student Matthew Trevithick, was released separately on Saturday. Former FBI agent Robert Levinson, taken hostage in Iran in 2007, and oil executive Siamak Namazi were not among the Americans released. Switzerland has provided diplomatic liaison for the US in Iran since the 1979 US Embassy storming and hostage taking. ~~~~~ Lifting nuclear sanctions was the result of the very dangerous Iran nuclear deal and its IAEA certification on Saturday : "Iran has carried out all measures enable Implementation Day to occur," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement. ~~~~~ Secretary of State Kerry said he and President Obama negotiated the prisoner/hostage swap separately from the nuclear deal. As Donald Trump would say, "Whatever." But, when American political hostages are freed, we rejoice. That Obama and Kerry violated two longstanding US diplomatic rules -- never negotiate with terrorists and never pay a ransom -- can't be a surprise because most American rules of diplomacy have already been broken under Obama. But, for the hostages : "welcome home." ~~~~~ World media says the lifting of sanctions and the prisoner/hostage deal considerably reduce the hostility between Iran and the US that has shaped the Middle East since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. That may be, but it is exactly this result that dismays and worries Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East - except Iran's pawns, Iraq and Syria. Hundreds of billions of dollars of Iranian assets will now be unfrozen and global companies will rush into an Iran market starved for everything from cars and banking access to airplane parts. The EU has also begun lifting sanctions and Iran's transport minister has already announced plans to buy 114 civil aircraft from EU aircraft maker Airbus. Iran's GNP will rise by 5.8% this year because of the sanctions' end. That means more money and prestige for shiite Iran as it continues to lead and finance terrorism and sectarian conflict in the Middle East : in the Syrian civil war where its allies are fighting rebels to save al-Assad, in Yemen as it tries to weaken Saudi Arabia, and in support for Hezbollah and Hamas in efforts to destroy Israel. ~~~~~ Dear readers, President Rouhani hails the nuclear deal as a "golden page" in Iran's history, but other Iranian leaders are knee-deep in self-praise for negotiating a deal that is better for Iran than for the world powers across the table. Ignore Obama's foolish brag that Iran will not "get its hands" on a nuclear weapon. Of course it will. Iran's win over Obama unleashes a domestic power fight among Iran's elites. Rouhani doesn't have the political support of Khamenei at home that he had in the nuclear negotiation. If Khamenei now prefers a less confrontational foreign policy, restoring full ties with the American "Great Satan" is out of the question, officials say. Rouhani, a pragmatist whose 2013 election made possible the thaw in relations with the world, owes his success to one man : Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Hardliners don't like Rouhani's growing influence and popularity and seek to limit his power in Iran where they oppose all political liberalization. A senior official said : "People know that Rouhani's policy ended Iran's isolation and their economic hardship. He is their hero." But, Khamenei and hardliners viciously hold onto power. Without Khamenei's okay, Rouhani cannot moderate Iran's radical islamic politics, even if he wants to. Iran may face another 2009-type bloodbath of death, torture and rape. Obama has brought Iran's terrorist thugs back onto the world stage, but will he also pay for bomb shelters?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Saturday Politics : The US Sailors Incident Made Obama and Iran Look Good before the $200 Billion Sanction Payment

Saturday politics. A political storm over a video almost achieved what Congress and the American people couldn't -- halt Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. A video on Iranian TV showing captured US sailors on their knees with their hands on their heads -- while the Iran Revolutionary Guard held guns over them -- sparked critics who said the episode, in which ten sailors strayed into Iranian waters in two small boats and were detained, was a humiliation for America. The Obama administration obtained their release in 24 hours, diffusing the anger in America and saving the nuclear deal. Obama officials touted the lessening of tensions with Iran that averted a much more serious diplomatic incident, calling it a victory for Obama's policy of talking to US enemies. ~~~~~ What do we know about the incident? **The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces : “What happened to American sailors on Tuesday proved how vulnerable the US is in front of powerful Iranian forces"....the US would be facing “yet another crisis now” if it weren’t for the “good intentions of the Iranian commanders,” who boarded the US Navy boats when they "illegally" entered Iranian waters near Farsi Island in the middle of the "Persian" Gulf. **US Navy Central Command issued a statement from Bahrain : "The Sailors departed Farsi Island aboard the two Riverine Command Boats (RCB) that they had been operating when they lost contact with the US Navy. The Sailors were...transferred ashore by US Navy aircraft...other Sailors took charge of the RCBs and continued transiting toward Bahrain, the boats' original destination." **An Iranian official told Reuters : "High-level gatherings in Washington were mirrored in Teheran, where top security and government officials held at least three meetings. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attended the sessions." Another Iranian official said : "Of course, there were tense moments and...various views over handling the case....After making sure there were no evil intentions from the sailors' side, Leader Khamenei gave the green light for the release of sailors." **On Iranian TV, one of the sailors -- now identified as the lieutenant in command -- apologized and said the boats had mistakenly entered Iranian waters. But, US officials said they had made no government-to-government apology to Iran. **US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said : “The that they did stray accidentally into Iranian waters due to a navigation error." Carter said the sailors apparently did not radio their command : “It may be that they were trying to sort it out at the time they encountered the Iranian boats and discovered they were inside the territorial waters of Iran." He denied the sailors were on a covert mission : “they were simply transiting from one place to another.” **One unnamed US official said it was clear the boats did not run out of fuel. But, CNN Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr said later the boats were reported to be taking a shortcut because they were short on fuel. ~~~~~ Retired Navy Commander Chris Harmer slammed the Navy's actions on CNN, saying it's not yet clear why the sailors were in Iranian waters. He said the incident represents "a severe failure by somebody....Either the naval leadership put these sailors in an impossible situation or the sailors are professionally incompetent." Harmer said there was "no reason for a small vessel to be out that far and especially without escorting ships around it" -- the two small craft are designed to operate in rivers and shallower coastal or littoral waters : "The Navy has to explain why you have small ships transiting 300 miles of open ocean." ~~~~~ Dear readers, we can also ask where their GPS tracking was, why Obama and Kerry caved in, and if the incident was to make Obama and Iran look good before the sanctions fall and Obama gives Iran $200 billion. If so, we now know that Iran thinks 10 American sailors are worth $200 billion. But, we know the truth - every young American in uniform is priceless.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Europe's Migrant/Refugee Crisis Has Become Socially and Politically Destructive

The refugee problem continues to divide and perplex Europe. ~~~~~ After the New Year's Eve sexual attacks, Cologne Mayor Reker, a woman, wrote a code of conduct for women, to prevent sexual assault. But it angered many citizens with its advice to women to remain at "an arm's length" from strangers, causing outrage on social media, with the phrase as a hashtag - #EineArmLaenge. Thousands of messages have been posted accusing the mayor of blaming the victims for the behavior of the attackers. Some noted the impracticality of the mayor's ideas. Christopher Lauer, a politician, wrote tongue-in-cheek : "I wanted to mug this woman and molest her, but...she's an arm's length away!" Others referred back to October when Mayor Reker was stabbed and seriously wounded while campaigning for mayor on a platform supporting Merkel's refugee program : "Maybe it could have been avoided if she'd kept him at an arm's length?" ~~~~~ Bavarian Minister for Justice Winfried Bausback and 800 German judges, prosecutors and judicial officers are teaching newly arrived asylum seekers the basics of law in their new host country. The legal primer classes for refugees in the southern state of Bavaria include lessons about freedom of opinion, the separation of religion and state and the equality of men and women. ~~~~~ EU migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulo warned on Thursday the refugee crisis is "getting worse....more and more member states are reintroducing border controls in response to migrant movements, including Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Austria....a collapse of the Schengen visa-free travel system would be the beginning of the end of the European project." Avramopoulos said up to 4,000 people arrived daily in Greece over Christmas and New Year -- fleeing either conflict or poverty. Hundreds of thousands of people have headed north, hoping to be accepted in Germany or Sweden. He said the scheme launched in September to share 160,000 refugees arriving in Greece and Italy among EU member states had only settled 272 people in new homes. "These schemes have not delivered the expected results," he said, adding that the system for processing people in Greece and Italy has struggled to get off the ground. Avramopoulos said a significant number of migrants are hoping to secure jobs -- rather than international protection -- and he warned that they are almost certain to have their residency requests rejected. But EU nations are failing to send back those who don't qualify, the commissioner said. Fewer than 900 of the hundreds of thousands who have arrived in Europe since September have been returned home. "Europe will provide protection for those who need it, but those who have no right to be here have to be returned," Avramopoulos said. ~~~~~ Hungary says it's "probably going to be impossible" to take back migrants who passed through on their way to Germany. Spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told the AP on Wednesday that Hungary tried to apply the EU asylum rules and register refugees, but : "we are not going to take responsibility for developments that came after the German invitation for migrants (or) asylum-seekers coming through the Western Balkan route." Kovacs said the record number of migrants in 2015 proves that the EU migrant registration system "is dead....because what Europe is facing is not a refugee crisis, it's a mass migration crisis." ~~~~~ Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has denounced a string of sexual assaults in Germany and Sweden against women in crowded areas : "girls and women should be able to move around freely at night without fear of being assaulted. If assaults occur, society has to stand with the victims." It was learned this week that Swedish police have known about incidents in Sweden similar to those in Cologne for at least TWO YEARS. An investigation is underway. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Europe is under attack. It must find a solution that saves its culture and Christian values, or the critically important 1,500-year-old European civilization as we know it will disappear.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Trump understands that Americans Are Fed Up with Obama and the Democratic Party's Socialism

"Pass muster on the world stage" -- that seemed to be President Obama's test for confronting radical Islam and jihadist terrorism in his State of the Union address. It was both his excuse for inaction and his justification for veiled attacks on the Republican Congress, the GOP base and presidential race frontrunner Donald Trump. The idea that protecting Americans and providing for America's security has to be acceptable to the world-at-large is a hallmark of the left socialist-progressive movement led by George Soros and adopted by the Democrat Party. Its goal is to turn the United States into a carbon copy of a failed Europe that has been bankrupted by social programs its taxpayers can't afford and divided by an open door migrant policy that most of its voters reject by voting for conservative nationalist third-party candidates whenever given the chance. ~~~~~ Sadly, Obama's leftist-progressive worldview was largely acceptable to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in her response for the Republican Party. Haley said the broken immigration system needs to be fixed and solutions do not include opening the borders or continuing to allow immigrants to come here illegally. (Okay.) But, she added that in an age of terrorism, there should be proper vetting of refugees so that America is "welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries." This fantasy about the history of American immigration was to be expected from a governor who last summer simply erased the fact of the Confederacy by outlawing its flag in the state where the Civil War began. History can be denied but it cannot be erased, no matter how painful it may be. ~~~~~ It seems nobody understands that American voters are in revolt -- nobody except on-the-ground Americans who, like ordinary Europeans, reject politicians, feel the pain of no jobs, low wages, rising taxes and healthcare costs, and who are completely loyal to Donald Trump because they see him as their only hope on a horizon of despair. ~~~~~ To take one example, Trump has called for a temporary freeze on allowing Moslems into the US until the government can guarantee proper vetting to keep out islamist terrorists. The cry against Trump is loud, with many saying the US would be the only country rejecting immigrants on a religious basis. Here are some examples that support Trump. **The BBC reports that Germany has been sending back to Austria 200 migrants daily since the start of 2016. Austrian police confirm this. Many had no valid documents. Others didn't want to apply for asylum in Germany but in other countries, notably Scandinavia, police said. Most of those sent back to Austria are not Syrians, who usually get asylum. Last week, Sweden, a favored destination for the migrants, sought to stem the flow by imposing entry controls on its Denmark border, which then set entry controls on its German border. **Conservative Dutch MPs are calling for removal of all mosques in the Netherlands. One Member of Parliament said: “We want to clean Netherlands of Islam. All mosques in the Netherlands should be shut down. Without Islam, the Netherlands would be a wonderful safe country to live in, as it was before the arrival of Moslem refugees." **Japan has always refused to let Moslems live permanently in the country. Moslems can't own real estate or any business, and Islam worship is banned. Moslem tourists caught spreading Islam are deported immediately, with all family members. **Cuba has refused Turkey's offer to build the first Cuban mosque. **Angola and several other African nations have officially banned Islam. **Record numbers of Moslems, (2,000+) have been deported from Norway to fight crime, which has dropped a reported 72%. Prison officials say half their jail cells are now vacant, courtrooms nearly empty, and police free to attend to other matters. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Donald Trump is right. America's security demands tight control of the Moslem refugee influx so the US does not import a European-type crime wave, along with islamist terrorism.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Exit Obama - the State of the Union Has Survived Him

President Obama's last State of the Union address came unglued by Iran's "arrest" of 10 US sailors accused of "snooping." He didn't mention them, but they threaten his legacy Iran nuclear deal, disliked by most Americans, who think Iran will cheat and make nuclear weapons anyway. Monday, Obama said he regrets that political divisiveness in the US grew during his two terms as President. The Iran deal is a big reason why Obama's to blame for America's divide over serious political issues - Obamacare, gun control, immigration laxity, unconstitutional executive orders and many others. Obama wants to get his last agenda through Congress this year, but Republicans in Congress are not interested in saving unsettled Obama issues that GOP voters disagree with -- gun control, open-ended immigration and an Asia-Pacific trade agreement. The White House recently said it has given up hope of working with the Republican-controlled Congress on many issues. The 10 Iran-held sailors will add greatly to Obama's problems if not quickly released. ~~~~~ In 2016, Obama will use his remaining clout with Democrats to help secure the election of a Democrat successor. Her rejects the idea of Donald Trump as the next US President. In an NBC interview, Obama characterized Trump’s policies as feeding the fears of voters. Most Republicans and many Independents and Democrats disagree, judging by recent polls favoring Trump. So, this may be just the latest example of Obama being very out-of-step with America. ~~~~~ What's far more interesting is Vice President Joe Biden's interview with CNN's Gloria Borger on Monday. Biden described Bernie Sanders as more authentic on economic inequality than Hillary Clinton and defended Sanders' record on gun control. He said he never felt Clinton was the prohibitive favorite to win. Biden said Sanders speaks to "a yearning that is deep and real" on issues of wealth disparity and people left out of the economy. He said Sanders has credibility on the issue, but that for Clinton, the issue is relatively new : "Hillary's focus has been other things up to one questions Bernie's authenticity on those issues." He went on to say people question anybody who hasn't been talking about the issue for a long time. He also said Clinton -- who has a lot of Democrat establishment support but whose wide lead in the first two primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire, has collapsed as Sanders has overtaken her in both states -- has a high bar to meet as the perceived favorite to win the Democrat nomination. Biden told CNN : "I never thought she was a prohibitive favorite. I don't think she ever thought she was a prohibitive favorite." Neither Biden nor Obama has endorsed a Democrat candidate, and Obama's chief of staff recently said the President won't take sides in the primary. But, Biden's endorsement would be a big prize and he came close to saying Hillary won't get it. Obama has pushed Democrats on gun control by announcing he won't endorse or campaign for any candidate who opposes what he describes as common sense gun control, including a mention of liability for gun-makers, which Sanders voted against in 2005. This could have been read as an attack on Sanders, who comes from a rural state and is more moderate than Clinton on gun control. But, Biden put that to rest, supporting Sanders : "Bernie Sanders has said that he thought the President's approach is the correct approach. Bernie Sanders said that he thinks there should be liability now." Asked whether Sanders needed to change his position to qualify for Obama's support, Biden said no. ~~~~~ Dear readers, Fox News says the FBI is investigating the possible connection of Clinton Foundation donations, the grant of State Department contracts and whether processes were followed when Hillary was at State. Is Joe Biden's public support for Sanders the Democrat Party's farewell to an ethically tarnished Hillary Clinton, unliked and fading in the polls And also to Barack Obama and his divisive presidency that is out of step with Americans, who hope that 2016 goes quickly.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Obama's Lies - Reagan's Truths - America's Future

President Obama had no fact checker to confront him at last Thursday's Townhall on guns, except CNN's gentlemanly Anderson Cooper, who, bless him, tried but was stingingly attacked by Obama each time. ~~~~~ There were two lies from Obama that showed his over-arching arrogance. The first was "We're not writing a new law, only Congress can do that." That outright lie about his sense of his executive reach as President denied a fact that all Americans know and three federal courts are now litigating -- Obama has 'written laws' by using executive orders on immigration, the environment, Iran sanctions and guns, despite the constitutional grant of law-writing to Congress alone. The second of his arrogant lies was about drugs and it showed his defiance in the face of America's rejection of Obamacare and its disgust with his "you can keep your doctor" lie about Obamacare. Obama was defending his gun control executive order by arrogantly referring to drugs : "If I propose to take unsafe drugs off the market, some people will say I'm trying to control the entire drug industry or take people's drugs away..." That is exactly what a majority of Americans believe about Obamacare. ~~~~~ There was also the lie about China that made clear how condescending Obama is toward the American people -- assuming they did not know enough to complete his statement. He said : "About the same time as the Newtown shooting, a man with a knife attacked and wounded the same number of kids in China...but they all survived because he didn't have a gun." Every American knows why that Chinese man used a knife -- he lives in a totalitarian marxist state in which he has no personal rights, no constitution to protect him, and so no recourse when the State seizes his firearms in order to keep him in a condition of political slavery. ~~~~~ There were many more lies told by Obama Thursday about his intention to seize Americans' guns by tearing up the Second Amendment : "If we can get a strong background check will at least be a little more difficult and more expensive to get a gun...then fewer people get them...and we have fewer guns." / "There's nothing we propose that makes it harder for you to purchase a firearm...if you need one." / "There's no other consumer product...we don't try to make safer." (Firearms are a constitutional right totally unlike seatbelts or toys.) ~~~~~ As Senator Marco Rubio said after the Townhall : “The Second Amendment is not some law we passed. It is in the Constitution....a constitutionally protected right. And that means if you’re going to do anything that touches upon it or infringes upon it, you have to pass a very high bar. And they’re not passing that high bar....They are obsessed with gun’s the truth: If the Left had their way -- they’ll never admit this because they don’t have the votes...they don’t have the public support -- but if they could confiscate guns, they would. If they could ban people from buying guns, they would.” ~~~~~ Obama also said something that infuriated me : "The United States was born suspicious of some distant authority." That is the single most despicable and demeaning description of the American Revolution ever uttered. And it proves just how non-American Barack Obama really is. ~~~~~ So, dear readers, as we hope for a 'smidgeon' of truth in Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday, let us consider the American truth in President Reagan's farewell address to the nation on January 11, 1989 : "I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation -- from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the ‘Reagan Revolution.' Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense." Amen, Sir.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Obama Parted Company with the Truth Long before the Townhall on Guns

In September 2014, the New York Post published an article titled "5 lies that have shaped the Obama presidency." Its first sentence was : "If past presidents are remembered for their signature achievements, Obama will be remembered for his signature lie: 'If you like your health care plan, blah, blah, blah.'" The article then noted "75 significant lies since his campaign for president began, but that doesn’t begin to tally the casual fibs and hyperbole he spouts seemingly every day." It then listed the NYPost's top Obama lies : *5. “My father left my family when I was 2 years old.” (FACT. Obama never spent a night under the same roof as his father, let alone two years.) *4. “The Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program begun under the previous administration.” (FACT. It began in October 2009 under Obama and Holder. Earlier, then White House press secretary Jay Carney made the same false claim at a press conference on national TV and White House correspondent Jake Tapper, then with ABC, said “It began in fall 2009,” correcting him.) *3. “Not even a smidgen of corruption.” (FACT. Obama said this in reply to a Bill O’Reilly question about the IRS scandal : “You’re saying no corruption?” But, when the IRS scandal first made headlines, Obama had said : “It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it.” __Obama, May 2013. Facts later proved the lie.) *2. “We revealed to the American people exactly what we understood at the time.” (FACT. During the same interview, Obama made the claim in answering O’Reilly’s inquiry about the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. In fact, it was exactly a week after the attack, on September 18, 2012, that Obama took his first questions about Benghazi, saying this to David Letterman : “Here’s what happened, You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character who - who made an extremely offensive video directed at - at Mohammed and Islam.” We know now that the administration knew this wasn’t true -- they knew it the very night of the attacks.) *1. “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.” (FACT. Obama told this whopper to his staff on his first day in office. He promised it to the press. Instead, his administration refuses to hand over documents and Obama refuses to answer questions. As liberal constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley said of the presidency, “Barack Obama is really the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be.”) ~~~~~ The frightening thing is that Americans don't know whether Obama actually believes his lies -- or is deliberately lying for sinister reasons. Does Obama really believe it isn't corrupt when the IRS targets conservative groups for audits to help his re-election campaign? Does he truly believe that his failed presidency is all President George W. Bush’s fault? ~~~~~ Dear readers, having endured so many Obama lies, how can we believe anything he says about guns? At the Town Hall on guns last Thursday, President Obama's lies continued. Taya Kyle, widow of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, pointed out that while the murder rate is at an all-time low, gun ownership is at an all time high. She asked, “Why not celebrate who we are?” An uneasy Obama said national trends don’t necessarily hold true in all locales, but he never explained why areas with the strictest gun controls tend to have the highest murder rates -- except to blame Indiana for taking "trunkloads" of guns to nearby Chicago, his "hometown" -- with one of the highest gun death rates and some of the strictist gun laws in the US. Obama said : "Many guns in Chicago come from Indiana where there are no background checks." FACT : Indiana law explicitly requires dealers to do a background check before transferring a handgun, by contacting the FBI directly. Indiana law doesn't explicitly require firearms dealers to do background checks before transferring long guns, but Indiana must contact the FBI as for handguns. Tomorrow, we'll discuss the rest of Obama's Townhall gun lies.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Saturday Politics : Syrian Refugees, Cologne Sexual Assaults, and US States vs Obama

Saturday politics. Alabama sued the US government this week to force the Obama administration to provide information on the settlement in Alabama of refugees from Syria and elsewhere, accusing the administration of failing to consult state officials about refugees to be settled in the state, in violation of the federal Refugee Act of 1980. Governor Robert Bentley is one of 30 US governors trying to keep Syrian refugees from their states after the November attacks in Paris, where ISIS claimed responsibility and Syrian refugees were identified as participants. Governor Bentley said the White House has not answered three of his letters asking about plans to place refugees in Alabama : "The process and manner in which the Obama administration and the federal government are executing the Refugee Reception Program is blatantly excluding the states." Alabama wants the federal government to disclose information on each refugee, including medical history, and certify that each refugee is not a security risk. ~~~~~ Texas recently tried to stop the entry of nine Syrian refugees, but in December a federal judge dismissed the request for a restraining order, calling the state's evidence "largely speculative hearsay." The ruling cleared the way for the last of 21 Syrian refugees, some children under the age of 15, to resettle in Houston. But, the lawsuit goes on, with the next hearing to be scheduled soon. ~~~~~ In the Texas case, the Justice Department said the Refugee Act requires the federal government to consult regularly with states about the sponsorship process and distribution among states but does not require it to discuss individual resettlements in advance. The Southern Poverty Law Center said Alabama Governor Bentley lacks the authority to bar the resettlement of refugees, adding that his "grandstanding is fueling xenophobia and helping to create an environment ripe for hate and violence." ~~~~~ BUT, the German Syrian refugee experience tells a different story. On New Year's Eve, a thousand men described as inebriated and "from the North African and Arab world" formed a mass and robbed and sexually assaulted women in the Cologne train station -- 121 of the women have filed criminal complaints, including three for rape. Stuttgart and Hamburg had similar troubles. The German Interior Ministry said yesterday that 18 of the 29 men arrested in Cologne were asylum seekers. A police officer anonymously told a newspaper his squad detained several people who had "only been in Germany for a few weeks....14 from Syria and one from Afghanistan." The level of disrespect toward police was “like I have never experienced in my 29 years of public service," he said. Amid calls for her resignation, Chancellor Merkel said this week the behavior was "completely unacceptable" and deportations were possible. The Cologne attacks have shaken Germany and Merkel's governing coalition and called into question the whole idea of the huge German Syrian refugee program. ~~~~~ Terrorists disguised as refugees are not confined to Germany. In Texas, federal agents have arrested a 24-year-old Iraqi man born in Palestine, who immigrated to Houston in 2009, and charged him as a terror suspect allegedly aligned with ISIS. The US Attorney's office in Houston said Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan was charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS, a designated terrorist organization. Al Hardan is one of three suspects. The other two were arrested in California, scene of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, and Wisconsin. Texas Governor Abbott said : “I applaud the FBI for today’s arrest of this dangerous subject. I once again urge the President to halt the resettlement of these refugees in the United States until there is an effective vetting process that will ensure refugees do not compromise the safety of Americans and Texans.” ~~~~~ Dear readers, President Obama -- responsible for Americans' safety -- cannot insist on taking 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US until each one is certified not to be a security risk. It violates his self-proclaimed duty.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Iran, Obama, and Saudi Arabia

On Friday, January 1, 2016, Iranian officials vowed to expand Teheran's missile capabilities, challenging the United States : "As long as the United States supports Israel we will expand our missile capabilities," the Revolutionary Guard second-in-command, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, told the Iranian Fars news agency, "We don't have enough space to store our missiles. All our depots and underground facilities are full." Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan said Iran would boost its missile program and had never agreed to restricting it. He told Iranian state TV : "Iran's missile capabilities have never been the subject of negotiations with the Americans and will never be." ~~~~~ Iran's defiance came after two Iranian ballistic missile tests that contravened UN sanctions and after Iranian naval vessels had fired rockets close to a US aircraft carrier in the Straits of Hormuz enroute to the Arabian Gulf after an unprecedented three-month absence. Iran was facing down President Obama as the United States and European Union were preparing to end international sanctions against Iran under the July nuclear deal. The standoff was a diplomatic and political test between Obama and Iran's President Rouhani. US officials said they would respond to the missile tests by imposing new sanctions against Iranian individuals and businesses linked to the missile program. Iran's senior nuclear negotiator said on December 31 that Iran's missile tests did not violate the July nuclear deal. Obama blinked -- he postponed imposing any new sanctions. ~~~~~ Then, on Saturday, January 2, 2016, Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, 57, a shiite cleric born in the Kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province. Nimr, a well-known albeit second-tier figure at anti-government demonstrations, criticized Saudi rulers in his sermons for their treatment of the Saudi shiite 10% minority. In 2009, he threatened to lead Saudi Arabia’s shiite Moslems to secession, provoking a crackdown in the shiite eastern heartland. In his sermons, Nimr criticized sunni and shiite autocratic rulers, but reserved his most scathing attacks for the Saudi and Bahraini royal families. Nimr was arrested in 2012, tried, convicted and sentenced to death in October 2014. His Saturday execution caused protests in eastern Saudi Arabia, where demonstrators denounced the ruling Al Saud dynasty, and in the nearby Gulf kingdom of Bahrain. Nimr's relatives said authorities informed them the body had been buried "in a cemetery of Moslems" and would not be given to the family. ~~~~~ Afterward, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran following the storming and burning of the Saudi embassy in Iran. Sunni nations followed the Kingdom, severing or cutting back diplomatic relations with shiite leader Iran, whose Ayatollah Khamenei predicted "divine vengeance" for the execution of Nimr. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a Riyadh news conference Iran's envoy had been asked to leave Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom, he said, would not allow the Islamic republic to undermine its security, saying the attack in Teheran was in line with what he said were earlier Iranian assaults on foreign embassies in Iran and with Iran's policy of destabilizing the region by creating "terrorist cells" in Saudi Arabia. Jubeir said : "The Kingdom, in light of these realities, announces the cutting of diplomatic relations with Iran and requests the departure of delegates of diplomatic missions of the embassy and consulate and offices related to it within 48 hours. The ambassador has been summoned to notify them." The US, Saudi Arabia's biggest supporter, called for "diplomatic engagement and direct conversations." A source close to the Saudi government explained : "Enough is enough. Teheran has thumbed their nose at the West. They continue to sponsor terrorism and launch ballistic missiles and no one is doing anything about it. The Saudis really don't care if they anger the White House." ~~~~~ Dear readers, the rest is detail. If Obama won't protect the Middle East from Iran's terrorism, Saudi Arabia and the sunnis will.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Bundys, Oregon, Federal Land and the Constitution, Part 2

Norway, Turkey, Egypt, Germany, the Czech Republic -- the equivalent of US land held by the federal government. The 12 far West states' land is on average 58% federally held, while the federal government holds only 4% in other states. This has led to great controversy over land ownership and use in the West. Throughout America’s history, federal laws have kept some land and disposed of some. In the 19th century, laws encouraged settlement of the West by federal land grants. When Texas was annexed in 1845, Congress adopted a resolution allowing it to "retain all the vacant and unappropriated lands lying within its limits." In the 20th century, emphasis shifted to retention of federal lands. In 1976, Congress passed a law saying the federal government would keep all lands it then held. ~~~~~ Some states and supporters say state control of all land would mean less regulation and greater freedom for ranchers, miners, and recreationists, boosting state income. Critics say states don't have funds to maintain the land and would sell it off to private interests, cutting off public access. Utah and Idaho legislatures tried to legally take back federal land. But, the Idaho Attorney General said the state's constitution gave up claims to the land when Idaho joined the Union. Of course, Congress has the authority to turn over federal land to the states, but efforts to pass such a law have failed so far. ~~~~~ Federal lands are lands in the US whose ownership is claimed by the federal government under Article IV, section 3, clause 2 of the Constitution, called the Property Clause : "The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States...." The Supreme Court has upheld the broad federal powers to deal with federal lands. The key unanimous decision in Kleppe v. New Mexico held that "the complete power that Congress has over federal lands under this clause necessarily includes the power to regulate and protect wildlife living there, state law notwithstanding." ~~~~~ The basic question remains : how are federal lands created. The Constitution provides for federal ownership of territories that can become states, but also of areas held by the federal government under agreement with the state where the area is -- called the "Enclave Clause" (Article I, Section 8, Clause 17). The Enclave Clause says the federal government can have an enclave - an area surrounded by land owned by states, as Washington, DC - in which federal, not state, law prevails. But, enclaves may be held only for enumerated purposes -- under the Constitution's fundamental doctrine that only listed powers are granted to the federal government, with all other powers reserved to the states. State consent to the creation of an enclave is required and the federal government may be made to honor terms and conditions. The Enclave Clause was 'sold' to the 18th-century ratifying voters on the basis that enclaves would be small. Holding huge tracts of undeveloped land (like Yosemite National Park, 750,000 acres) as enclaves is not what the Founders envisioned. Therefore logically, states-rights legal scholars say non-enclave land held by the federal government under the Article IV Property Clause is also to be held only for enumerated purposes. Grazing, for example, is not an enumerated purpose. Non-enclave federal property within states is therefore subject to state law. Contrary to Supreme Court decisions, when the federal government owns non-enclave land, it should be treated as any other owner, as long as the state respects legitimate federal functions. ~~~~~ Dear readers, that's the Bundy standoff, raised to its constitutional level -- under the Constitution's states rights doctrine, states own most of the 28% of US land held by the federal government. The Bundys support the doctrine. The Justice Department hasn't litigated, as with Cliven Bundy. The FBI hasn't raided the Oregon building to arrest the Bundys -- a states rights standoff, like many political issues today.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Bundys, Oregon, Federal Land and the Constitution, Part 1

On Saturday, 300 peaceful marchers, both local and out-of-state, protested on behalf of two Oregon ranchers who reported to prison this week. After the march, a militia group took control of a federal wildlife building. The occupation occurred without violence, but the militia said it plans to stay at the facility to protest "overreach" by the federal government. The two ranchers were convicted of arson. They burned brush and creeping weeds on federal lands to prevent fires and to protect the grazing land they leased from the federal government. Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr., 73, and his son Steven Hammond, 46, reported to federal prison in California on Monday. The Hammonds lit the fires on lands managed by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 2001 and 2006. They were convicted of arson in 2012. Acting US Attorney Billy Williams said : "Fires intentionally and illegally set on public lands, even those in a remote area, threaten property and residents and endanger firefighters called to battle the blaze." The Hammonds have already served time -- Dwight three months in prison and his son one year -- but a judge said the sentences were too short under federal law and ordered them back to prison for four years each. ~~~~~ The militia, joined by some marchers, took over a federal building -- the unoccupied headquarter building of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge 30 miles south of Burns in the high desert of eastern Oregon. The area is very remote, about 280 miles southeast of Portland. Property was not damaged. Some militia were armed, others weren't. The FBI said it's "working with the Harney County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police, and other local and state law enforcement agencies to bring a peaceful resolution to the situation." The militia is led by Ammon Bundy, 40, and his brothers. Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who made headlines in 2014 for his standoff with federal agents over grazing rights on lands he said belonged to Nevada, not the BLM. Cliven won as the Justice Department decided not to prosecute him because, according to many legal analysts, DOJ would have lost. Ammon Bundy told the Oregonian : "We're planning on staying here for years....This is not a decision we've made at the last minute....The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds. The only violence that, if it comes our way, will be because government is wanting their building back...We’re putting nobody in harm’s way. We are not threatening anybody. We’re 30 miles out of the closest town." The Hammonds, the county and the town of Burns distanced themselves from the Bundys. Sheriff David Ward said that the occupiers were only "claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers." In reality, "these men had alternative motives to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States." ~~~~~ Federal lands are lands in the United States whose ownership is claimed by the US federal government, pursuant to Article IV, section 3, clause 2, of the Constitution. According to a 2012 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, the federal government owns roughly 635 million acres of the 2.27 billion total acres in the US - about 28% - almost entirely in the far West, reports the CRS -- Nevada: 84% / Alaska: 69% / Utah: 57% / Oregon: 53% / Idaho: 50% / Arizona: 48% / California: 45% / Wyoming and New Mexico: 42% / Colorado: 37% / Montana and Washington state: 30%. Land in the far West was acquired for national parks and mineral rights as America moved toward the Pacific. Compared to these 12 far West states where the federal government owns on average 58% of all land, in the other states, only 4% on average is federally owned. ~~~~~ Dear readers, efforts to retake control of federal lands began over a century ago in the West. It is the basis of the Bundys' fight. It also represents a fundamental divide in American political thought and constitutional interpretation. Tomorrow, we'll explore this key issue.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Second Amendment Protects Americans from Government Tyranny

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Second Amendment, US Constitution, adopted 1791. ~~~~~ A new Texas law allows residents to openly carry licensed handguns in Texas, where licensed carrying of concealed weapons is permitted. Retail and commercial businesses can opt out of the law that bans open carry at schools, courts, jails, bars, polling places, and sanctioned sports events. Government meetings can be gun-free, with notice. Texas is now the largest state to have some form of open carry. Supporters in the Texas legislature tied the new law to Second Amendment rights. Opponents, mostly Democrats, argued the open carry law would be dangerous. ~~~~~ On the gun control side, a new California law allows police, without prior warning to a gun owner, to seize weapons if a judge decides there's a potential for violence. The law was passed after a 2014 mass shooting, in which officers had visited the shooter's home after his parents warned about his mental health, but the police decided he wasn't a risk and didn't search the apartment where he had guns, ammo and knives. Under the new law, families can obtain a "gun violence restraining order." Los Angeles Police Assistant Chief Michael Moore said : "The law gives us a vehicle to cause the person to surrender their weapons....It's a short opportunity for mental health professionals to provide an analysis of a person's mental state." California law already bans gun possession by anyone who has committed a violent crime or been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. Second Amendment advocates say the new law could put lawful gun owners at risk of seizure. ~~~~~ Second Amendment supporters warn they'll vigorously oppose President Obama's plan to order expanded background checks for gun buyers at gun shows. Obama's threatened executive order signals "war," Chicago radio host and former congressman Joe Walsh says. Yesterday, Obama met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch about the executive orders to be released today. The National Rifle Association said Obama’s "gun control agenda was rejected by Congress. Now, he is doing what he always does when he doesn’t get his way, defying the will of the people and using executive action." GOP presidential candidate, Senator Rand Paul has introduced a bill to prevent executive orders on gun control from being effective until Congress passes a law supporting the order. Senator Paul said : “In the United States, we do not have a king, but we do have a Constitution. We also have the Second Amendment, and I will fight tooth and nail to protect it." ~~~~~ In 1786, the new US government had not paid many Revolutionary War veterans. They returned to their farms and were levied heavy new state taxes to pay war debts. Those who couldn’t pay the taxes had their farms seized and were sentenced to debtors’ prison. Angry veterans in Massachusetts shut down local courts and tried to take over an armory. Shays’ Rebellion was crushed by state militia. Many rebels were imprisoned, and some executed, as recommended by Samuel Adams : “...the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death." Thomas Jefferson took a milder view. One of Jefferson’s most famous quotations is from his letter to James Madison on January 30, 1787 : “I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing....Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people, which have produced them. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.” ~~~~~ Dear readers, the right to bear arms is America's protection against tyrannical government. Never surrender it. The Founder who wrote the Second Amendment also wrote : 'The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." __James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 46.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Iran Mocks US with Ballistic Missile Tests and Threats to US Air Carrier

On December 26, Iranian military vessels approached and fired rockets near a US aircraft carrier traveling to the Arabian Gulf through the internationally recognized maritime traffic lane in the Straits of Hormuz. The Iranian vessels came within 1,500 yards of the USS Harry S. Truman before firing the rockets. A US military official called the incident "certainly unnecessarily provocative" and "unsafe." Several Iranian navy vessels approached the Truman, as well as other coalition and merchant vessels, warned of a "previously unannounced live-fire exercise over maritime radio and requested for nearby vessels to remain clear," the official said. Forty minutes later, the exercise warnings were repeated, the Iranian ships launched rockets, firing in a direction away from the commercial and coalition ships, and then departed. ~~~~~ Iran's menacing aside, we should ask why President Obama left the Arabian Gulf without a US carrier from early October to late December. The Truman is the first US aircraft carrier to enter the Gulf, after the USS Theodore Roosevelt left in October, leaving a US carrier gap of several months. The US has maintained a carrier presence in the Gulf for decades, even keeping two carriers there to support the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Perhaps the answer is that Obama ordered the Roosevelt to leave the Gulf in early October so that Iran could conduct its first two ballistic missile tests since the nuclear deal was signed. ~~~~~ The Wall Street Journal reported on December 31 that after Iran's ICBM tests, the White House has delayed imposing new financial sanctions on Iran over either its ballistic missile program or tests. On December 30, the WSJ, citing US officials, had said the Obama administration was preparing to sanction a dozen companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates for their role in developing Iran's ICBM program. The US sanctions were expected to be formally announced this week, the WSJ said. But, Iranian President Rouhani threatened Obama by telling his Defense Ministry to “quickly and firmly continue with its plans to produce different missiles...” Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan obeyed, saying he would make Iran’s missiles even more powerful, claiming that “peace and security can only be achieved by strength.” ~~~~~ We long for the day when President Obama adopts a policy that leads from strength. But, Obama showed no strength to Iran -- Rouhani apparently stopped any White House consideration of sanctions. Obama and his team showed no spine. Apologists explain Obama’s timidity by saying Rouhani needs to stand up to the US to appease right-wing factions in Iran. We could remind President Obama that the US does not need a nuclear deal with Iran -- Iran needs a nuclear deal with the US. Putting Rouhani’s political needs ahead of US self-interest and world safety is lunacy, or deliberate appeasement. ~~~~~ Dear readers, the sanctions that Obama considered are permitted under UN resolution 1929 passed in 2010 : “States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities,” referring to its ballistic missile program. Obama's targets were Iranians working for the Ministry of Defense, and an Abu Dhabi firm and its Hong Kong affiliate charged with providing key materiel to the weapons effort. The Obama sanctions, proposed but so far not put in place, reflect the serious concern that Iran is dealing with rogue nuclear state North Korea to procure components for its ICBM program. Obama apparently won't treat the threat seriously for fear of ruining his legacy nuclear accord, turning a blind eye and preferring to let Iran receive billions of dollars in sanctions relief desperately needed because of its oil revenues collapse. Unleashing on the world a nuclear Iran with ICBM delivery capability is the leftist view of a fitting Obama legacy and a denial of all that America stands for. No wonder US allies think Obama's real Middle East partner is Iran...and Russia.