Obama, the Unconstitutional War President

Besides the modern precedence of President Obama’s defeats in the Supreme Court in regards to their 9-0 rulings against him, the President has repeatedly violated the wording and spirit of the Constitution, as well as his own words, several times in waging war, a power that was given to the Congress for a variety of good reasons.

Let’s take a look at the US Constitution’s text on the war powers.

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

The President’s powers are:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

It is very clear that the US Constitution defined that the power to determine when the military could be called forth against foreign entities.  Once called forth, the President directs the actions of those troops, but only after being authorized.

Of course, this President and many of his supporters will attempt to use either the War Powers Act and the AUMF as the authorization for the President to attack places like Syria, Libya and Iraq.  But there are some problems when we look at the actual text of those authorizations.

The text of the War Powers Resolution says:

SEC. 2. (c)  The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces. SEC. 3. The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations.Sec. 4. (a) In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced–(1) into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances;(2) into the territory, airspace or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat, except for deployments which relate solely to supply, replacement, repair, or training of such forces; or(3) (A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;     (B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and     (C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.

Sec. 4. (b) The President shall provide such other information as the Congress may request in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities with respect to committing the Nation to war and to the use of United States Armed Forces abroad.

Sec. 4. (c) Whenever United States Armed Forces are introduced into hostilities or into any situation described in subsection (a) of this section, the President shall, so long as such armed forces continue to be engaged in such hostilities or situation, report to the Congress periodically on the status of such hostilities or situation as well as on the scope and duration of such hostilities or situation, but in no event shall he report to the Congress less often than once every six months.SEC. 5. (a) Each report submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1) shall be transmitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate on the same calendar day. Each report so transmitted shall be referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate for appropriate action. If, when the report is transmitted, the Congress has adjourned sine die or has adjourned for any period in excess of three calendar days, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate, if they deem it advisable (or if petitioned by at least 30 percent of the membership of their respective Houses) shall jointly request the President to convene Congress in order that it may consider the report and take appropriate action pursuant to this section.

SEC. 5. (b) Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.

SEC. 5. (c) Notwithstanding subsection (b), at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.

And the AUMF:

Section 2 – Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces

(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

So, very clear.  The US President can only put forces in the field, including bombing foreign entities, without Congressional approval via a declaration of war or statutory law, unless there is “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces”.  Currently, the only authorization of the use of force in place that the US can use is the AUMF which limits the attacks to “nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons”.

Libya did not meet this requirement, neither does ISIS.  In fact, the only current military actions that could be included into that current authorization is the actions ongoing in Afghanistan, though there is some concern about the current state of affairs in that country.

From our own President just a year ago concerning the AUMF:

[T]he choices we make about war can impact — in sometimes unintended ways — the openness and freedom on which our way of life depends.  And that is why I intend to engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.

The AUMF is now nearly 12 years old.  The Afghan war is coming to an end.  Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self.  Groups like AQAP must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States.  Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.

So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.  And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further.  Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue.  But this war, like all wars, must end.  That’s what history advises.  That’s what our democracy demands.

And from our own President while he was running for office:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

And from Joe Biden:

It is precisely because the consequences of war – intended or otherwise – can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens. They reasoned that requiring the President to come to Congress first would slow things down… allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die… and ensure broader public support.

The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right.

ISIS is not an imminent danger to the US, Libya was not an imminent danger to the US.  This President talks the talk, but does not walk the walk.

A great quote from Jack Goldsmith in Time:

Future historians will ask why George W. Bush sought and received express congressional authorization for his wars (against al Qaeda and Iraq) and his successor did not. They will puzzle over how Barack Obama the prudent war-powers constitutionalist transformed into a matchless war-powers unilateralist. And they will wonder why he claimed to “welcome congressional support” for his new military initiative against the Islamic State but did not insist on it in order to ensure clear political and legal legitimacy for the tough battle that promised to consume his last two years in office and define his presidency.

RIP Theodora Nathan

Theodora “Tonie” Nathan passed away today at the age of 91.  If you are scratching your head not sure of who that is or why you should be aware of it, Tonie was the first woman in the United States that earned an electoral vote for Vice President of the United States.  This happened in 1972.

In 1972, running as a vice presidential candidate for the first Libertarian Party ticket for the presidential candidate John Hospers, Republican elector Roger MacBride of Virginia who was supposed to vote for Richard Nixon but in protest voted for the Hospers-Nathan ticket instead.  When reading the results of the vote, the man reading them read her name as ‘Theodore’ instead of Theodora.

At that moment, she became the first woman to receive an electoral vote for vice president, as well as the first Jewish person to receive an electoral vote for vice president.  John Hospers was the first gay man to receive an electoral vote (as far as we know).

In an era when both Democrats and Republicans work very hard to smear the ideals of libertarianism and the Libertarian Party for political purposes (they feel that those vote that they ‘steal’ are rightfully theirs despite not having earned them) the facts of the Libertarian Party in leading for civil rights for everyone have been lost.  To the point that when frustrated about a comment he made about a reporter, Alec Baldwin responded with the tweet

@ABFalecbaldwin: When did all this Breitbart libertarian trash become the defenders of gay rights?””

While most libertarians can’t speak to Breitbart’s group (as he isn’t a libertarian, nor is his group), libertarians have been defenders of gay rights since, well, always.  And defenders of women’s rights.  And everyone’s rights.  Progressive Democrats didn’t get around to supporting gay marriage until 2012.  Conservative Republicans will get there, kicking and screaming, within ten years.

Because, unlike Progressive and Conservative views, Libertarians are bound by a basic philosophy that puts others above them.  The rights of the individual, not the individual self but every single possible individual, are above politics.  The real measure of your defense of rights is not how vehemently you defend your own, it is how you defend the rights of those that you disagree with.  Our views don’t change for political expediency or getting votes, we don’t think that natural rights that each person has are up for political negotiations.  Unfortunately the same thing cannot be said of the two major parties who put your rights up for negotiation at every election.

Theodora earned her nomination on merit, not as a political stunt.  Nor did she campaign for it.  She was a TV producer from Oregon who showed up for the convention.  Because of some well-phrased comments from the floor during debates over the platform and statement of principles that impressed the rest of the delegation, she was nominated as the candidate for vice president of the United States.

She was also a founding member and former vice chair of the Libertarian Party, as well as a founding member and former president of the Association of Libertarian Feminists.

The So Called Scandal

In defense of the administration, many of the partisan left are trying to label the recent scandals as ‘so called’ and ‘imaginary’.  However, as new information makes its way to the media, and the lawsuits start to mount, even the most partisan protector of the administration must be asking themselves some very hard questions, even if they aren’t being asked out loud.  One recent story was the treatment of Catherine Englebrecht.

Catherine and her husband own a small manufacturing company.  Over time, she has become interested in political policy, specifically after witnessing what she considered voter fraud during the 2008 election.  She created two groups, True the Vote and King Street Patriots.  True the Vote’s function is to ensure the integrity of elections, including working to clear voting rolls of people who have died or no longer living in the district and educating poll workers on identifying potential election fraud.

In July 2010, she applied for tax-exempt status from the IRS, and apparently this action ‘poked the bear’.

Here is a timeline of what happened to her after that action, remembering that before applying she had never had a single issue with her groups or her business from the federal government.

  • December 2010 – FBI interviewed her about a person who attended a King Street Patriots function.
  • January 2011 – FBI returned and the IRS audited her business tax returns.
  • May 2011 – FBI returned again asking about the actions of the King Street Patriots.
  • June 2011 – FBI returned and the IRS audited her personal tax returns.
  • October 2011 – IRS questioned her about True the Vote.
  • November 2011 – FBI returned to question her about King Street Patriots.
  • December 2011 – FBI returned to question her about King Street Patriots.
  • February 2012 – IRS questions her about True the Vote and King Street Patriots, including asking for “all of your activity on Facebook and Twitter.”, BATF audited her business.
  • July 2012 – OSHA inspected her business.
  • November 2012 – IRS questions her about True the Vote.
  • March 2013 – IRS questions her about True the Vote.
  • April 2013 – BATF conducts a second audit.

To this day, she has not received the tax exempt status she requested.  This additional scrutiny was not just the IRS, but also the FBI and BATF, both groups that had no issue with Catherine and her group before.  In addition, her group True the Vote has been subject to a congressional investigation by Elijah E Cummings and Barbara Boxer.  Apparently wanting to ensure that the voting rolls are accurate is a hate crime to some.

After it was made public that True the Vote was one of the groups subjected to additional scrutiny by the IRS, Ms Englebrecht responded:

“Since that time the IRS has run us through a gauntlet of analysts and hundreds of questions over and over again. They’ve requested to see each and every tweet I’ve ever tweeted or Facebook post I’ve ever posted. They also asked to know every place I’ve ever spoken since our inception and to whom, and everywhere I intend to speak in the future. We’ve met all requirements, responded to everything, and provided case law in such areas where appropriate,” Engelbrecht stated. “The IRS treatment of us lends to the appearance of a politically motivated abuse of power and an assault on free speech.”

Unfortunately, while Catherine Englebrecht’s situation is shocking, it isn’t an isolated case.  Consider the following stories we have hear over the past few days.

The Leadership Institute, a 501(c)(3) organization that trains young conservative activists was audited and had to produce 23,000 pages of documents for the IRS as well as answer questions about where its interns came from and where they were employed, a request that came from the IRS’s Baltimore office, just a couple of weeks after the Hawaii Tea Party was asked by the Cincinnati office to provide details regarding their relationship with the Leadership Institute.

Z Street, a pro-Israel group filed for 501(c)(3) status in December 2009 intending to operate as an educational group.  When their tax counsel called in July 2010 to ask about the slow pace of mvement, the IRS auditor (Diane Gentry) said they were supposed to give special scrutiny with groups ‘connected to Israel’ and that requests that related to Israel are sent to ‘a special unit in DC to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies’.  I’ll let that sink in for a moment…

Coalition for Life of Iowa, who was approved for their tax-exempt status, provided that they sign a letter agreed that none of their board members would picket Planned Parenthood offices.  They agreed, since their group wasn’t interested in picketing or protesting, though they did pray in front of Planned Parenthood.  Apparently you need to sign away your 1st amendment rights to get tax-exempt status now.

Christian Voices for Life of Fort Bend County, also asked about their protesting plans and asked to provide copies of grants and contracts.  An IRS agent from California sent them a letter asking “In your educational program, do you education on both sides of the issues in your program?”.  He also asked “do you try to block people to enter a building, e. medical clinic, or any other facility?”  (the grammatical issues are as originally written)

Ret. Lt. Col. Mark Drabik, once leaving the military he was free to express political beliefs openly.  He participated in marches in Washington and donated to the 912 movement.  Then he got an audit from the IRS, questioning his church donations, familty respite care and his daughter’s equine therapy.  Deductions he had clamed for almost a decade without question.

There are just a few of the stories we’ve heard so far.  Some of the left want to dismiss the issue because they are either trying to carry water for the administration or because they agree with limiting the rights of those they disagree with.  There are actually many on the left cheering on the administration for these IRS abuses, even though the president himself has called them wrong and despicable.

So the question comes down to how did this happen?  The initial suggestion that this was done by a rogue agent in the Cincinnati office doesn’t hold water for several reasons.  First, the Cincinnati office is not just a small office that covers just Ohio, it covers much of the United States.  Many seem to not know this.  Second, the targeting appears to have come from other offices too, as this listing suggests.  Finally, some of the documentation was signed by Lois Lerner herself.

The problem can actually be traced back to the rhetoric that Democrats, including the president himself, has used over the past several years.  As was so eloquently put by David Harsanyi:

To begin with, the Internal Revenue Service scandal isn’t just about the abuse of power; it’s a byproduct of an irrational fear of free speech, which seems to permeate much of the left these days. The unprecedented targeting of conservatives wasn’t incidental to this administration as much as it was an intuitive extension of the paranoia the left has about unfettered political expression.

Democrats, after all, hadn’t been merely accusing political opponents of being radical twits the past four years; they’d been accusing them of being corrupt, illegitimate radical twits. The president endlessly argued that these unregulated groups were wrecking the process at the behest of well-heeled enablers rather than engaging in genuine debate.

Heck, some of these funders may even be foreign nationals! Senators called for investigations. Obama called out the Supreme Court during a State of the Union speech for defending the First Amendment in the Citizens United case (which prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures by groups). The New York Times editorial board (and others) advocated the cracking down by the IRS on conservative dissenters and getting to the bottom of the anarchy.

How can Americans function in a society in which anyone can speak out or fund a cause without registering with the government first?

Why wouldn’t the IRS — a part of the executive branch, lest we forget — aim its guns at conservative grass-roots groups during an election in which the president claimed that a corporate Star Chamber was “threatening democracy”? Come to think of it, I’m still not sure why the president believes that it was wrong of the IRS to single out limited-government groups for their tax-exempt status at all. He couldn’t stop talking about the topic for two years.

On the heels of this, the administration set out to delegitimize Fox News

You may also remember that back in 2009, the administration was so preoccupied with Fox News (the only news network one could reasonably call the opposition) that top-ranking administration officials — including Anita Dunn, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod — made a concerted effort to delegitimize its coverage. This was also unprecedented. Not long after that effort, Attorney General Eric Holder decided to spy on a Fox journalist who was reporting on leaks — shopping his case to three separate judges, until he found one who let him name reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator in a crime of reporting the news.

On top of that, we now find that ProPublica was given the information of unapproved conservative groups from the IRS.

The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.

The IRS did not respond to requests Monday following up about that release, and whether it had determined how the applications were sent to ProPublica.

In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)

Note that ProPublica states that getting approval for these groups is NOT NECESSARY.

Social welfare nonprofits are not required to apply to the IRS to operate. Many politically active new conservative groups apply anyway. Getting IRS approval can help with donations and help insulate groups from further scrutiny. Many politically active new liberal nonprofits have not applied.

Applications become public only after the IRS approves a group’s tax-exempt status.

The progressives who fear free speech aren’t comprehending the problems with what they are doing in targeting those who disagree with them.  They see the opposition as inhuman, evil and repugnant, therefore not worth of free speech.  They see free speech as something that is given to those who are worthy and taken away from those who they feel shouldn’t be allowed to wield it.  They fail to grasp that in order for them to have their rights protected when they are not in power, they MUST ensure that they do not violate other’s rights when they are in power.  This is clearly evident, not only in the cases of the IRS abuses and myriad of other rights abuses on the press and enemies both at home and in the field.

It started with the attack on Fox News, the torture of Pvt Bradley Manning, the expansion of warrantless wiretap searches including protecting the government from lawsuits, the use of signature strikes, creating a ‘hit list’ of enemies, targeting US Citizens with assassination, spying on the press, on groups like antiwar.com, breaking into reporter’s laptops, spying on US Citizens nationwide, pushing legislation that would allow government agencies to spy on all Americans on the internet, seizing of domains that don’t fall under US control, attacking the Citizens United ruling, Democrat Senators calling for investigations into conservative groups, prosecuting people for whistleblowing, leaving people to rot in Guantanamo Bay in direct violation of the Constitution, and many more that space prevents me from listing…

This administration has been using its full force to push it’s power around.

Nobel Peace Prize: Obama V Manning

The search, arrest and subsequent torture of Pvt Manning over the release of documents to Wikileaks has led Ron Paul to say that Manning is more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than President Obama.  There is a good bit of validity to the argument, including the fact that Manning has been nominated for the past several years.

“While President Obama was starting and expanding unconstitutional wars overseas, Bradley Manning, whose actions have caused exactly zero deaths, was shining light on the truth behind these wars,” the former Republican presidential contender told U.S. News. “It’s clear which individual has done more to promote peace.”

Manning was nominated for the award in 2011, 2012 and again earlier this year. Obama won the award in 2009.

The WikiLeaks documents Manning allegedly leaked “pointed to a long history of corruption [and] war crimes” and “helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements,” according to the Icelandic, Swedish and Tunisian politicians who nominated Manning.

Not only did Manning expose some pretty important things with those documents that the American people needed to know, but he did so knowing the danger that put him in.  And he has received more than he bargained for with the torture that he has endured at the hands of this administration.

But, he did break the law.  Of course, so did Rosa Parks, Daniel Ellsberg and Mark Felt.  We celebrate those people as heroes (rightfully so) but have condemned Manning to a tortuous existence.  Many are trying to end this conduct.

Manning’s imprisonment has attracted demonstrations by his anti-war supporters. Protesters routinely picket outside the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Va. An online petition to “save human rights whistleblower Bradley Manning” by Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg has attracted almost 20,000 signatures.

Glen Greenwald said it best

“Bradley Manning epitomizes what the Nobel Peace Prize was supposed to reward, while Barack Obama is the antithesis of it,” Greenwald told U.S. News. “Everything Manning did was geared toward ending war by mobilizing public opinion against it. Most of what Obama has done with his power has been geared toward escalating and continuing U.S. aggression.”

Greenwald cited Obama’s use of drone attacks that reportedly kill civilians, the president’s so-called “kill list” and his continuation of the Afghanistan War. “By stark contrast, Manning risked his own liberty, really his life, to expose documents that he thought would expose the horrors of war and the serial deceit and corruption of the world’s most powerful factions,” said Greenwald.

Law Enforcement, Gun Control, and How to Help Others

Listening to many proponents of more gun control often suggest that law enforcement officers would like to see stricter gun control laws in place to combat the violence in our country caused, as they think, by people owning guns.  Or that they support actions to limit magazine sizes.  Since proponents think that it will make law enforcement easier and promote less violence, they are sure that most law enforcement officers agree with their position.  However, as we now see, that is decidedly not the case.

Policeone.com took the question to law enforcement personnel in a recent survey and asked them several questions.  The results of this poll may surprise anyone who thinks that they are acting in the best interests of law enforcement by supporting increased gun control laws.

They surveyed “more than 15,000 verified law enforcement professionals”.  Some of their results are:

1.) Virtually all respondents (95 percent) say that a federal ban on manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds would not reduce violent crime.

2.) The majority of respondents — 71 percent — say a federal ban on the manufacture and sale of some semi-automatics would have no effect on reducing violent crime. However, more than 20 percent say any ban would actually have a negative effect on reducing violent crime. Just over 7 percent took the opposite stance, saying they believe a ban would have a moderate to significant effect.

3.) About 85 percent of officers say the passage of the White House’s currently proposed legislation would have a zero or negative effect on their safety, with just over 10 percent saying it would have a moderate or significantly positive effect.

4.) Seventy percent of respondents say they have a favorable or very favorable opinion of some law enforcement leaders’ public statements that they would not enforce more restrictive gun laws in their jurisdictions. Similarly, more than 61 percent said they would refuse to enforce such laws if they themselves were Chief or Sheriff.

5.) More than 28 percent of officers say having more permissive concealed carry policies for civilians would help most in preventing large scale shootings in public, followed by more aggressive institutionalization for mentally ill persons (about 19 percent) and more armed guards/paid security personnel (about 15 percent).

6.) The overwhelming majority (almost 90 percent) of officers believe that casualties would be decreased if armed citizens were present at the onset of an active-shooter incident.

7.) More than 80 percent of respondents support arming school teachers and administrators who willingly volunteer to train with firearms and carry one in the course of the job.

8.) More than four in five respondents (81 percent) say that gun-buyback programs are ineffective in reducing gun violence.

As Doug Wyllie, the editor of policeone.com, states:

Quite clearly, the majority of officers polled oppose the theories brought forth by gun-control advocates who claim that proposed restrictions on weapon capabilities and production would reduce crime.

In fact, many officers responding to this survey seem to feel that those controls will negatively affect their ability to fight violent criminals.

Contrary to what the mainstream media and certain politicians would have us believe, police overwhelmingly favor an armed citizenry, would like to see more guns in the hands of responsible people, and are skeptical of any greater restrictions placed on gun purchase, ownership, or accessibility.

The officers patrolling America’s streets have a deeply-vested interest — and perhaps the most relevant interest — in making sure that decisions related to controlling, monitoring, restricting, as well as supporting and/or prohibiting an armed populace are wise and effective. With this survey, their voice has been heard.

The sad thing is that the efforts in place now are obviously attempts by people who have longed for more gun control and are trying to exploit the country’s revulsion of Sandy Hook as a means to an end.  This can be shown in the following ways:

1) The main effort is to limit magazine capacity to 10 shells.  This limitation would have played NO part at Sandy Hook.  The shooter had been training for such an event for several years and reloaded his weapon several times while going through the school.

2) Limiting cosmetic changes on weapons does not make them less lethal or a potential tool of someone intent on causing bodily harm to others.  For example, the gun used by the Sandy Hook shooter was legal under the old federal weapons ban and was legal under the Connecticut ban.  It has been called out specifically in the proposed federal gun ban, but others that are identical to the gun are in the approved category.

3) In order to push their agenda, they bring out emotionally distraught victims.  This is the most heinous of actions, IMO, to use these people to push your proposed changes.  If you can’t sell the law on logical or factual means, making people cry is the most manipulative method.  The parent’s sorrow is being used.

4) Purposefully trying to state that the gun that was used at Sandy Hook was a ‘fully automatic’ weapon, even when knowing better.  President Obama himself is guilty of this, stating the following in a speech:

I just came from Denver, where the issue of gun violence is something that has haunted families for way too long, and it is possible for us to create common-sense gun safety measures that respect the traditions of gun ownership in this country and hunters and sportsmen, but also make sure that we don’t have another 20 children in a classroom gunned down by a semiautomatic weapon—by a fully automatic weapon in that case, sadly.

You can tell by the speech that it was not a ‘slip of the tongue’, he originally called it a semiautomatic weapon, and then changed it to fully.  Not only was it NOT a fully automatic weapon since those are illegal to own, this purposeful use of the term is meant to evoke an emotional response.

5) There is then, of course, the obvious complete misunderstandings of how guns operate, why they are a necessary tool for self-defense by the weaker in our society to even the playing field, and the true feelings of our founding fathers on the issue.  For some examples:

a) Lawmakers who sponsor legislation on gun control now knowing how they work.

Dianna DeGette, Congresswoman from Colorado, made the stunningly ignorant statement that once the bullets are fired from a high-capacity magazine, the magazine becomes useless, and is discarded.  What’s really amazing is that DeGette is the primary sponsor of the House bill proposing outlawing high capacity magazines, so one would assume she would have an authoritative knowledge on the topic.  After all, if your job is to write legislation on a specific subject, legislation all…

b) Necessary tool of self defense

According to the National Self Defense Survey conducted by Florida State University criminologists in 1994, the rate of Defensive Gun Uses can be projected nationwide to approximately 2.5 million per year — one Defensive Gun Use every 13 seconds.
Among 15.7% of gun defenders interviewed nationwide during The National Self Defense Survey, the defender believed that someone “almost certainly” would have died had the gun not been used for protection — a life saved by a privately held gun about once every 1.3 minutes. (In another 14.2% cases, the defender believed someone “probably” would have died if the gun hadn’t been used in defense.)
In 83.5% of these successful gun defenses, the attacker either threatened or used force first — disproving the myth that having a gun available for defense wouldn’t make any difference.
In 91.7% of these incidents the defensive use of a gun did not wound or kill the criminal attacker (and the gun defense wouldn’t be called “newsworthy” by newspaper or TV news editors). In 64.2% of these gun-defense cases, the police learned of the defense, which means that the media could also find out and report on them if they chose to.
In 73.4% of these gun-defense incidents, the attacker was a stranger to the intended victim. (Defenses against a family member or intimate were rare — well under 10%.) This disproves the myth that a gun kept for defense will most likely be used against a family member or someone you love.
In over half of these gun defense incidents, the defender was facing two or more attackers — and three or more attackers in over a quarter of these cases. (No means of defense other than a firearm — martial arts, pepper spray, or stun guns — gives a potential victim a decent chance of getting away uninjured when facing multiple attackers.)
In 79.7% of these gun defenses, the defender used a concealable handgun. A quarter of the gun defenses occured in places away from the defender’s home.

c) Understanding the true feelings of the founding fathers

For years, we are told that ‘single shot weapons like the type our founding fathers had’ makes the 2nd amendment outdated or that the term ‘well regulated militia’ means something other than what the founders meant it to mean.  However, the facts show a different mindset.  First, the idea was that the weapons kept by the citizens would be those of military grade.  We were supposed to be able to be called upon to defend the country against outside forces AND be able to defend ourselves against aggression from evildoers and our own government when necessary.  Further, had they thought it was just small hand weapons that we were allowed to keep, why did they not ban the ownership of cannons?  These objects are designed to kill multiple people from range, yet private citizens were free to (and did) own these weapons.  Because the government trusted us to use our common sense and be responsible with the means in which we chose to defend ourselves.

Some quotes for reference:

“No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” (Thomas Jefferson, Proposal Virginia Constitution, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334,[C.J.Boyd, Ed., 1950])

“The right of the people to keep and bear…arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country…” (James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434 [June 8, 1789])

“A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves…and include all men capable of bearing arms.” (Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer (1788) at 169)

“What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty…. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.” (Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment [ I Annals of Congress at 750 {August 17, 1789}])

“…to disarm the people – that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” (George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 380)

“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” (James Madison, The Federalist Papers #46 at 243-244)

“the ultimate authority … resides in the people alone,” (James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, in Federalist Paper #46.)

“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States” (Noah Webster in ‘An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution’, 1787, a pamphlet aimed at swaying Pennsylvania toward ratification, in Paul Ford, ed., Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, at 56(New York, 1888))

“…if raised, whether they could subdue a Nation of freemen, who know how to prize liberty, and who have arms in their hands?” (Delegate Sedgwick, during the Massachusetts Convention, rhetorically asking if an oppressive standing army could prevail, Johnathan Elliot, ed., Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol.2 at 97 (2d ed., 1888))

“…but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights…” (Alexander Hamilton speaking of standing armies in Federalist 29.)

“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation. . . Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” (James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, in Federalist Paper No. 46.)

“As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.” (Tench Coxe in ‘Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution’ under the Pseudonym ‘A Pennsylvanian’ in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789 at 2 col. 1)

“Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American… The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state government, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people” (Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788)

“The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to Congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretense by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both.” [William Rawle, A View of the Constitution 125-6 (2nd ed. 1829)

“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for few public officials.” (George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 425-426)

“The Constitution shall never be construed….to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms” (Samuel Adams, Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87)

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike especially when young, how to use them.” (Richard Henry Lee, 1788, Initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights, Walter Bennett, ed., Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, at 21,22,124 (Univ. of Alabama Press,1975)..)

“The great object is that every man be armed” and “everyone who is able may have a gun.” (Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution. Debates and other Proceedings of the Convention of Virginia,…taken in shorthand by David Robertson of Petersburg, at 271, 275 2d ed. Richmond, 1805. Also 3 Elliot, Debates at 386)

“The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.” (Zachariah Johnson, 3 Elliot, Debates at 646)

“Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?” (Patrick Henry, 3 J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836)

“The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.” (Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-8)

“That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of The United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms…” (Samuel Adams, Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at 86-87 (Peirce & Hale, eds., Boston, 1850))

“The supposed quietude of a good mans allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside…Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them...” (Thomas Paine, I Writings of Thomas Paine at 56 [1894])

“No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion.” (James Burgh, Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses [London, 1774-1775])

“Men that are above all Fear, soon grow above all Shame.” (John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, Cato’s Letters: Or, Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, and Other Important Subjects [London, 1755])

“To prohibit a citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm . . . is an unwarranted restriction upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of constitutional privilege.” [Wilson v. State, 33 Ark. 557, at 560, 34 Am. Rep. 52, at 54 (1878)]

What gun control proponents don’t realize is that the problem is not that guns exist or are accessible, it is that there are people who feel, for some reason, that it is decidedly ok to use these weapons in an offensive manner.

If they really wanted to end violence, they would do what would actually make a difference.

1) End prohibition.  Prohibition laws, like those against marijuana, are directly responsible for creating a powerful incentive for gangs and organized crime to violate laws and have to defend themselves against the police, as well as establish ‘territories’ of power.  This was seen during the original prohibition era as gangs and organized crime violence increased to an alarming level during this time.  Once the experiment of prohibition was ended, the violence subsided as well.


2) Rebuild the expectation of responsible action in the citizenry.  Policies for the past several generations have caused society to try to blame other people, usually political opponents, when citizens are no longer acting responsibly.  Instead of holding them responsible for their actions, we try to find other reasons why they committed the actions that they did.  We give a sense of entitlement to many who should be held in less regard, not because we dislike them as human beings or because we see them as less than humans, but because only by expecting more of people do you see them rise to that occasion.  Be compassionate, but be vocal in your expectations.


3) Mentoring.  As a society, we are too free to throw other people’s money at situations that we see instead of getting personally involved ourselves.  If every person who was doing well would mentor one single person who was not, we would have at least one mentor for everyone who needed the help.  Giving people the tools that they need for them individually, instead of trying to fit everyone into a single one size fits all education.  Our education system should be just the bare basics of what people need.  It would be ideal for each parent to mentor their own children AND a child that is unfortunately without a similar mentor, but we should also be mentoring adults who have fallen through that educational crack and our floundering in our society today because they didn’t get that support when they were children.



The answer is in our hands, we can do this without force or law or government.  We can take back our liberty and our society by expecting more and taking less.  Every single person who is helped by these efforts is one less potential frustrated, angry, desperate human being that could choose to take up arms in the future as a outlet for that rage.

Sen Rand Paul Filibusters Brennan Nomination

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is filibustering the Brennan nomination live on C-Span.  Much more than the fact that he has decided to filibuster is what he saying and why he is filibustering.  I recommend everyone watch what he is saying today, he intends to speak for as long as he can.  Sen Paul did vote for other Obama nominations, this is not a ‘oppose Obama at all costs’ filibuster threat, this is a person who is sincerely concerned about liberty in the US, the accumulation of power by the President to be prosecutor, judge and jury on who should be killed and restraint on the abuses of power of the government.

From Sen Paul’s Facebook page:

Over the next few hours, I will be speaking on the Senate floor to discuss at length my opposition to John Brennan’s nomination to be director of the CIA, as well as my concern over the constitutionality of the use of drone attacks on Americans and on U.S. soil.

See Paul’s inquiries to Brennan about domestic drones here, here, and here.

A excerpt from a Paul press release:

Attorney General Holder stated in a letter to Sen. Paul dated March 4, 2013: “It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

“The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans,” Sen. Paul said.

Sen. Paul also received a letter in response from Mr. Brennan, clarifying the CIA does not have the power to authorize such operations. Notably missing from Mr. Brennan’s response are answers to the myriad other questions Sen. Paul posed to him in previous correspondence.

Coming to a (War) Theater in 2013

This is how it happens.  No one wants war, especially world wars that engulf the entire planet in the disputes that are usually idiotic.  But it appears that another of these situations is coming to the Pacific Ocean, involving Japan, China and the United States.  Once these three get involved, more are sure to follow.  The worst part is that there really appears to be no way out.  With the current administration having no block to endless war now that the anti-war progressives are on board with wars they start and this one being made more difficult because of this administration’s actions, it really does appear to be just a matter of time.

The details:

There are some rocks in the Pacific Ocean that Japan calls the Senkakus Islands and China has dubbed the Diaoyu Islands.  Both are claiming them as their own.  In recent months, more and more military posturing over the uninhabited lands has taken place.  Japan and China have both been flying planes over the islands.  There is hope that this can be stopped before it goes any further.  This is, however, unlikely to happen.  This is, after all, how wars get started.

It seems almost laughably unthinkable that the world’s three richest countries – two of them nuclear-armed – would go to war over something so trivial. But that is to confuse what starts a war with what causes it. The Greek historian Thucydides first explained the difference almost 2500 years ago. He wrote that the catastrophic Peloponnesian War started from a spat between Athens and one of Sparta’s allies over a relatively insignificant dispute. But what caused the war was something much graver: the growing wealth and power of Athens, and the fear this caused in Sparta.

The analogy with Asia today is uncomfortably close and not at all reassuring. No one in 431BC really wanted a war, but when Athens threatened one of Sparta’s allies over a disputed colony, the Spartans felt they had to intervene. They feared that to step back in the face of Athens’ growing power would fatally compromise Sparta’s position in the Greek world, and concede supremacy to Athens.

The Senkakus issue is likewise a symptom of tensions whose cause lies elsewhere, in China’s growing challenge to America’s long-standing leadership in Asia, and America’s response. In the past few years China has become both markedly stronger and notably more assertive. America has countered with the strategic pivot to Asia. Now, China is pushing back against President Barack Obama’s pivot by targeting Japan in the Senkakus.

The Japanese themselves genuinely fear that China will become even more overbearing as its strength grows, and they depend on America to protect them. But they also worry whether they can rely on Washington as China becomes more formidable. China’s ratcheting pressure over the Senkakus strikes at both these anxieties.

And why can’t we just stop this nonsense?

These mutual misconceptions carry the seeds of a terrible miscalculation, as each side underestimates how much is at stake for the other. For Japan, bowing to Chinese pressure would feel like acknowledging China’s right to push them around, and accepting that America can’t help them. For Washington, not supporting Tokyo would not only fatally damage the alliance with Japan, it would amount to an acknowledgment America is no longer Asia’s leading power, and that the ”pivot” is just posturing. And for Beijing, a backdown would mean that instead of proving its growing power, its foray into the Senkakus would simply have demonstrated America’s continued primacy. So for all of them, the largest issues of power and status are at stake. These are exactly the kind of issues that great powers have often gone to war over.

And it gets worse.  Already five countries are now claiming ownership of the islands.  The Philippines have moved people onto the island they call Thitu Island.  It appears that the area is rich in oil and gas reserves.

And today, China has sent its newest warship to the region.

The Taiwan-owned China Times reports the Liuzhou Type 054A warship entered the South China Sea Fleet of China’s PLA Navy, making it the sixth 054 warship in the area.

Though the Type 054A is not a new design, this most recently commissioned vessel will have the latest technological advantages

Happy New Year, and may peace be with us all.

Where did the anti-war Democrats go?

In 2005, the 2,000th serviceman died in Iraq and the media was there to tell us.  Vigils were setup all across the United States to protest the deaths.  It controversial to discuss the dead coming home, the left was outraged, demanding to film the caskets as they rolled off of the airplanes.  Yes, this past month the 2,000th serviceman died in Afghanistan, 1,500 of them since President Obama took office, and there was barely a mention of it in the news and no protests visible from the progressive websites that were once filled with outrage over an ‘endless war’.  Where did those Democrats and Progressives go?

Simply stated, a president of their party was elected and war is good now.  Not just Afghanistan, no, wars in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Libya, all good things for the country!  Of course, this is the exact opposite opinion he expressed while running for office and getting praise from the progressives in his party for his anti-war views.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, the Boston Globe asked Obama about the president’s constitutional authority to use military force without congressional approval in “a situation that does not involve stopping an imminent threat.” Obama, a Harvard-trained lawyer who opposed the Iraq war, told the Globe in a candidate Q&A that was published Dec. 20, 2007, that the president has no such authority unless there is “an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Question: In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

Obama: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

However, when President Obama attacked Libya, he did so without any actual or imminent threat to the nation.  He did not seek approval from congress as he is constitutionally required to do so.  He has since expanded the ‘War on Terror’ to Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, that we know of.  The result of these actions are the deaths of innocent civilians as they have been accomplished using drones.

I often wonder what the people who once stood for peace within the Democratic Party are thinking.  Do they still feel the same way, disgusted by the president from their own party being more of a warmonger than the one he replaced, but not willing to say anything so that they can keep control of the White House?  Or was their original peaceful views simply not legitimate but rather a way to attack a president of an opposing party?  Or did they have a change of heart?

Unfortunately I haven’t heard a good response from one about the support of the President in this case.  Usually I get a deflection when I ask what has happened.  I am not at all expecting to get any either, after all, being grounded by an overriding principle is not something that progressives seem terribly keen on doing.

Party or Vision?

President Obama accepted the nomination of his party this evening and in doing so posited the theory that this election, more than any other in a generation, will be about two different paths, not just about two different parties.  It’s a good line to toss out to those who already agree with you, but the facts don’t really add up when looking at it closer.

In reality, the two major parties are not as far away from each other as they would like to lead on.  Both parties play on division that looks to set large groups against each other in order to get their vote without having to really work hard for it, but at the end of the day there is really little else to differentiate them.  Let’s take a look at some examples of what I mean.

Romney passed a Massachusetts health care overhaul with a mandate, subsidies for regulated private insurance, and an expansion of Medicaid. Obama passed a national health care overhaul with a mandate, subsidies for regulated private insurance, and an expansion of Medicaid.

Barack Obama pared back Medicare payments by $716 billion over the next decade. Romney has promised to repeal those cuts, but Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman and the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, included those same reductions in his own budget plan, which was passed by a majority of Republicans in the House.

Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Obama passed an $800 billion stimulus. In the aftermath of President Bush’s $150 billion 2008 stimulus, Romney insisted that a second stimulus was needed, and later gave qualified praise to Obama’s stimulus, saying that it will “accelerate the pace of the recovery,” just not as much as if it had been designed differently.

Romney has praised the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the president who passed it,sayingPresident Bush and Hank Paulson said, ‘We’ve got to do something to show we are not going to let the whole system go out of business.’ I think they were right.” In 2009, Obama begged legislators in Congress not to scuttle the program.


A major part of the Democrats’ message this week is the argument that a Romney presidency would return us to the era of President George W. Bush. But what happened during the Bush years? Record spending, record debt, a slew of civil liberties abuses, a failed and expensive war on drugs, an impossibly complex immigration system and shameful treatment of immigrants, and a new health care entitlement in the form of Medicare Part D. And what did a change in White House power bring? Record spending, record debt, a slew of civil liberties abuses, a failed and expensive war on drugs, an impossibly complex immigration system and shameful treatment of immigrants, and a new health care entitlement in the form of ObamaCare. A clear choice? If so, it’s less a choice between visions than a choice between parties.

Bush enacted the Patriot Act, Obama and the Democrats have renewed it every time they had the chance.

Both administrations have supported and made use of unwarranted wire-tapping.

Both administrations have supported the use of torture.

Both administrations have continued to hold ‘enemy combatants’ at Guantanamo Bay without bringing them to trial.

Both administrations heavily support corporate welfare.

Neither administration has been particularly pro-choice, they both work to take choices away from US Citizens, just in different areas.

And for some more let’s hear from David Swanson just six months into this administration’s governance.

There’s Dubya now, still rewriting laws via signing statements. Still creating and destroying laws with executive orders. And still violating laws at his whim. Imagine Bush continuing his policy of extraordinary rendition, sending prisoners off to other countries with grim interrogation reputations to be held and tortured. I can even picture him formalizing his policy of preventive detention, sprucing it up with some “due process” even as he permanently removes habeas corpus from our culture.

I picture this demonic president still swearing he doesn’t torture, still insisting that he wants to close Guantanamo, but assuring his subordinates that the commander-in-chief has the power to torture “if needed,” and maintaining a prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan that makes Guantanamo look like summer camp. I can imagine him continuing to keep secret his warrantless spying programs while protecting the corporations and government officials involved.

If Bush were in his third term, we would already have seen him propose, yet again, the largest military budget in the history of the world. We might well have seen him pretend he was including war funding in the standard budget, and then claim that one final supplemental war budget was still needed, immediately after which he would surely announce that yet another war supplemental bill would be needed down the road. And of course, he would have held onto his Secretary of Defense from his second term, Robert Gates, to run the Pentagon, keep our ongoing wars rolling along, and oversee the better part of our public budget.

Bush would undoubtedly be following through on the agreement he signed with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011 (except where he chose not to follow through). His generals would, in the meantime, be leaking word that the United States never intended to actually leave. He’d surely be maintaining current levels of troops in Iraq, whilesending thousands more troops to Afghanistan and talking about a new “surge” there. He’d probably also be escalating the campaign he launched late in his second term to use drone aircraft to illegally and repeatedly strike into Pakistan’s tribal borderlands with Afghanistan.

If Bush were still “the decider” he’d be employing mercenaries like Blackwaterand propagandists like the Rendon Group and he might even be expanding the number of private security contractors in Afghanistan. In fact, the whole executive branch would be packed with disreputable corporate executive types. You’d have somebody like John (“May I torture this one some more, please?”) Rizzo still serving, at least for a while, as general counsel at the CIA. The White House and Justice Department would be crawling with corporate cronies, people like John Brennan, Greg Craig, James Jones, and Eric Holder. Most of the top prosecutors hired at the Department of Justice for political purposes would still be on the job. And political prisoners, like former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former top Democratic donor Paul Minor would still be abandoned to their fate.

In addition, the bank bailouts Bush and his economic team initiated in his second term would still be rolling along — with a similar crowd of people running the show. Ben Bernanke, for instance, would certainly have been reappointed to run the Fed. And Bush’s third term would have guaranteed that there would be none of the monkeying around with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that the Democrats proposed or promised in their losing presidential campaign. At this point in Bush’s third term, no significant new effort would have begun to restore Katrina-decimated New Orleans either.

If the Democrats in Congress attempted to pass any set of needed reforms like, to take an example, new healthcare legislation, Bush, the third termer, would have held secret meetings in the White House with insurance and drug company executives to devise a means to turn such proposals to their advantage. And he would have refused to release the visitor logs so that the American public would have no way of knowing just whom he’d been talking to.

During Bush’s second term, some of the lowest ranking torturers from Abu Ghraib were prosecuted as bad apples, while those officials responsible for the policies that led to Abu Ghraib remained untouched. If the public continued to push for justice for torturers during the early months of Bush’s third term, he would certainly have gone with another bad apple approach, perhaps targeting only low-ranking CIA interrogators and CIA contractors for prosecution. Bush would undoubtedly have decreed that any higher-ups would not be touched, that we should now be looking forward, not backward. And he would thereby have cemented in place the power of presidents to grant immunity for crimes they themselves authorized.

If Bush were in his third term, some of his first and second term secrets might, by now, have been forced out into the open by lawsuits, but what Americans actually read wouldn’t be significantly worse than what we’d already known. What documents saw the light of day would surely have had large portions of their pages redacted, and the vast bulk of documentation that might prove threatening would remain hidden from the public eye. Bush’s lawyers would be fighting in court, with ever grander claims of executive power, to keep his wrongdoing out of sight.

The existing differences between the two parties are mere quibbles, the visions are marketing deceptions, designed to keep you focused on them as a means to divide the country so much, to keep us at our throats so we can’t see what is really going on.  Had Bush been elected to a third term, there would have been little difference between what we would have gotten and what we have.  Except of course that the Democrats would be the ones deriding the president instead of the Republicans.

Vision?  No, it’s about party, pure and simple.  So go ahead and vote for the party you support in November, but don’t delude yourself into thinking that vision has anything to do with it.

The New Normal

Many people think that the road to totalitarianism is going to be a swift seemingly overnight change, but the reality is that in today’s world, the best way it can occur is little by little over a long period of time.  Most people would be aghast of thinking that they could support such a horrific form of government, but as it is introduced in small chunks, over time, abuses that we once thought were egregious are accepted into our everyday lives and we fold them into our new normal.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what has been happening for decades in the United States.  A good example are the RICO statues that allowed for law enforcement to seize assets from SUSPECTED crime organizations.  The notion that a person was innocent until proven guilty was thrown out in order to give the government more power to prosecute drug offenses, blocking the defendant’s ability to use their assets to defend themselves.  They have had the support of both parties in power so there is little to stop the encroachment.  Under the current administration, they have become even more commonplace, giving billions to the federal and state governments.

The Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund under President Obama is the largest it’s ever been, having grown from $500 million in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2011, according to a new report from the GAO.

In addition to the fund’s size, payments from the fund to local law enforcement agencies totalled $445 million in 2011, another all-time high. These payouts are part of the DOJ’s “equitable sharing agreement,” which incentivizes local cops to conduct federal raids. They then get a portion of the assets seized during the raid (more money if they contribute more resources). That money is then used to finance SWAT and paramilitary training, as well as the acquisition of military grade weapons and equipment.

Originally enacted in 1970, the power assumed by the government to do this was debated heavily with civil libertarians fighting against it, suggesting a ‘slippery slope’.  Once enacted, it because the new normal and the criticisms died down except for staunch civil libertarians who were then seen as ‘fringe’.

Of course, it was eventually expanded to include drug lords, securities fraud and yes, the holy grail, terrorism.  In fact, many people don’t realize it but it was the power taken by the government for the RICO statutes that allowed for much of the Patriot Act to be seen by its proponents as somehow legal.  Had the government not taken that initial power, that we eventually accepted as ‘the way things are’, the Patriot Act would have had a much harder time passing.

Of course, this is just an example.  Let’s start with the Patriot Act now and see where that has gotten us.

When initially proposed, civil libertarians again decried it.  Some Democrats and some Republicans were also against it, but the established senators and congressmen voted for it.  But to get it passed they had to attach expiration clauses to the law so that in the future it could be done away with, at such a time when people realized that the fear they were living in because of 9/11 was temporary and would go away.

But what has happened since?  The law has been renewed and renewed, time and time again.  First with a Republican congress and president, then with a Democratic congress and Republican president, then a Democratic congress and president.  Now it is likely to be passed again.  And why?  Well, we’ve come to accept that it is normal.

As Glen Greenwald writes:

Remember when, in the wake of the 9/11 attack, the Patriot Act was controversial, held up as the symbolic face of Bush/Cheney radicalism and widely lamented as a threat to core American liberties and restraints on federal surveillance and detention powers? Yet now, the Patriot Act is quietly renewed every four years by overwhelming majorities in both parties (despite substantial evidence of serious abuse), and almost nobody is bothered by it any longer. That’s how extremist powers become normalized: they just become such a fixture in our political culture that we are trained to take them for granted, to view the warped as normal.

His article then expands on several more examples.  From the initial screams about torture that faded into acceptance as this administration has been torturing US citizens to President Obama now acting on the claim that he has the right to act as judge, jury and executioner, for suspected terrorists, including US Citizens, on the basis of secret evidence.

Isn’t it amazing that a newspaper editorial even has to say: you know, the President isn’t really supposed to have the power to act as judge, jury and executioner and order American citizens assassinated with no transparency or due process? And isn’t it even more amazing that the current President has actually seized and exercised this power with very little controversy? Recall that when The New York Times first confirmed Obama’s targeting of citizens for assassinations in 2010, it noted, citing “officials,” that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.” No longer. That presidential power — literally the most tyrannical power a political leader can seize — is also now a barely noticed fixture of our political culture.

Don’t forget the expansion of the wiretapping powers of the president that this administration has put into place after excoriating the previous administration for first implementing it.

Or the new ‘all seeing’ surveillance systems being implemented.

Or the TSA violations of search and seizure protections without reasonable suspicion.

Or the new cybersecurity law that will incentivize private businesses to spy on you and turn that information into the government.

Or the unmanned drones that are used to spy and carry out executions from the air.

There is zero question that this drone surveillance is coming to American soil. It already has spawned a vast industry that is quickly securing formal approval for the proliferation of these surveillance weapons. There’s some growing though still marginal oppositionamong both the independent left and the more libertarian-leaning precincts on the right, but at the moment, that trans-ideological coalition is easily outgunned by the combination of drone industry lobbyists and Surveillance State fanatics. The idea of flying robots hovering over American soil monitoring what citizens do en masse is yet another one of those ideas that, in the very recent past, seemed too radical and dystopian to entertain, yet is on the road to being quickly mainstreamed. When that happens, it is no longer deemed radical to advocate such things; radicalism is evinced by opposition to them.

No, this is how totalitarianism comes to be, little by little, like the frogs in the boiling pot of water.  For those that are unfamiliar with that anecdote:

The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.

Here we are, in the boiling pot of water, and the ‘left’ and ‘right’ are too busy shouting insults at each other to realize that by remaining quiet to the abuses of their own party in order to attack the other they are allowing the heat to be turned up, little by little.

The sad fact is that by the time enough people realize what is going on, it will be far to late to turn back the wheels of oppression.