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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My How Things Change

For most of my adult life, the federal judiciary was looked at by the left as their best ally in government.  If Republicans took any action, the libs rushed into court to try to get that action undone.  Federal Courts discovered new rights in the Constitution to meet the demands of the left.  The best examples of that are the rights to privacy and to abortion.  Forget which side of the argument you may support; it is undeniable that nothing in the Constitution provides that abortion is legal during the first three months of a pregnancy, possibly legal during the second three months, and illegal during the last three months.  That detailed schedule, however, was the holding of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade

Today, all that has changed.  Now the left views the federal courts as a major problem for their agenda.  A good example of this view is the article by Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker entitled "The Threat to Obama from the Courts".  Toobin actually says that the Republican Congress is no threat to Obama, but those federal courts are really something about which to worry.  He gives four examples:  1) Obamacare where the Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to enforce the statute to comply with its clear language; 2) Immigration where the courts have held president Obama's executive action was illegal and not within his powers; 3) Global Warming where the courts are considering if the EPA could unilaterally declare war on coal without any agreement from Congress to authorize such action; and 4) Net Neutrality where the courts are being asked to undo more executive action taking control of the internet despite prior clear rulings that absent action by Congress, there was no power to do so.  It's a funny article for a lawyer like me to read.  I know that Toobin has been following legal proceedings for years; he understands the American Constitution.  Nevertheless, Toobin is having a fit about the possibility that the courts may actually force Obama to abide by that Constitution.  The president has limits on his powers and the courts are going to insist those limits be observed.  Oh no!!!!  How could such a travesty occur!!!

The truth is that the danger to Obama's programs has not come from the courts.  That danger is the result of Obama refusing to follow the Constitution.  A president who told the nation more than 20 times that he did not have the power to take the immigration actions that he then took, doesn't get the requisite power by acting.  He still lacks the power to do what he did.

More Drivel From the Atlantic

It is interesting to see just how inept the left is when it comes to actual factual arguments rather than their usual shout-it-down type of political rhetoric.  This morning, I saw an article in the Atlantic entitled "What Makes Indiana's Religious-Freedom Law Different?'  For once, or so I thought, the liberals were actually going to debate the real facts.  The Indiana law, you see, is almost identical to the federal statute drafted by Chuck Schumer and passed by the Democrats and signed by Bill Clinton.  It is also almost identical to the laws on the books in over 20 other states.  The fight in Indiana is actually a phony one that was ginned up to attack an attempt to preserve religious liberty. 

According to the Atlantic article, there are two basic differences between the Indiana law and all the others which make it different and dangerous, indeed, a basis for discrimination.  The first difference is that "the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to 'the free exercise of religion.'”   Neither the federal law nor almost all of the state laws address this issue.  Okay, so far so good, at least until one actually considers the argument.  Last year the Supreme Court of the United States considered whether or not a for-profit business could claim the right to free exercise of religion, and guess what, the Court decided that some corporations could, indeed, properly assert that right.  What that means is that even though the federal statute has no language expressly about corporations, that federal statute allows a for-profit business to assert a right to the free exercise of religion.  In other words, there is no difference between the Indiana law and the federal law on this point.  Indeed, it is highly likely that the individual state laws will be interpreted in line with the Supreme Court decision in the future, so here too there is no difference.

But the Atlantic said there were two differences.  Let's look at the second one.  Here is the way the Atlantic article puts it:

The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”

The big deal according to the Atlantic is that in Indiana, the government need not be a party to the proceeding.  But is this really important or even surprising?  Not really is the answer.  Of the federal statute and the other twenty or so state statutes, only in one state (New Mexico) is there a requirement that the government be a party to the suit.  There would have to be state involvement for the law to be invoked, but the state does not have to be a party.  Perhaps an example would best illustrate this.

If an Indian tribe had an area of land on which its sacred rites were carried out and the local government issued a permit and hired a contractor to clear a fire control road across that land, the Indian tribe would have a claim under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  This sort of situation was, in fact, one of the items that led to the original passage of the federal statute.  The tribe could easily go to court to sue the government to stop construction with the claim being that the road could go around the sacred site with no problem for the government and no burden on the Indians' practice of their religion.  Of course, the tribe could also go into court and sue the contractor only.  They would seek an injunction against construction on exactly the same grounds.  The government could be brought into that suit, but it might not be.  Indiana's law just says the obvious that the government does not have to be a party.

Put all this together, and the Atlantic actually is proving the point that there is no meaningful difference between the federal and other state statutes and the one in Indiana.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Invisible Ink In Cyberspace

Chris Stirewalt of Fox News makes a good point today in commenting on Hillary Clinton's having all traces of emails erased from her server at a time when they were outstanding subpoenas.  Stirewalt points out that if just one email that would have been responsive to that subpoena turns up elsewhere, Hillary may have given critics the ammunition to destroy her campaign.  Imagine what would happen if there was clear proof that Hillary had destroyed evidence called for by a subpoena.  She would not be prosecuted by the Obama Justice Department in all likelihood, but the uproar of a criminal act would surely hurt her political ambitions in a major way.

Why did she do it?  How bad must the email she deleted have been?  Were there really emails about getting cash from foreign governments for the foundation?  Was Hillary doing something else nefarious?  For her to take the risk that she has now gone with, it had to have been really bad.


Obama and the Obamacrats End the Stigma of Racism

The charge of racism has become a joke in the USA.  It struck me just how silly the claim has become when I read a column by Juan Williams this morning.  According to Williams, John Boehner is injecting racism into America's relationship with Israel by traveling to visit the Jewish state during the upcoming Congressional recess.  Williams says that the trip is a slap in the face to president Obama because Boehner is going at a point when relations between Obama and Israeli prime minister Netanyahu are strained.  Therefore, Boehner's trip injects racism into the mix.

Now I know that the opinions of Juan Williams are hardly important, even for a pundit.  Nevertheless, this sort of drivel in which Republicans are accused of injecting racism into almost every aspect of public life are emblematical of a larger cynical ploy of the Democrats and the media.  Think about it.  Two weeks ago, on the last day before the Israeli election, Netanyahu said on Israeli TV to his supporters that the left was spending a great deal of money to bus Arab voters to the polls in the hopes of gaining a victory.  Netanyahu then called on his own supporters to turn out.  The response from Obama and the entire American left was a torrent of criticism that Netanyahu was "racist" for actually telling the truth about what was happening.  Much of the cost of those buses and the GOTV effort of the left in Israel was funded by American government grants.  This was not racism; it was reality.  So we have Obama injecting phony charges of racism into our relations with Israel.  Juan Williams was silent on this. 

Non stop charges of racism have desensitized most Americans to the whole issue.  It is a terrible development.  Strangely, the election of our first black president, rather than helping race relations has set them back.  And the cause of that setback, for the most part, is the dishonest and cynical use of the race card by Obama and his allies.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

It's like 1984

This is America.  That means that people can and will argue about all sorts of things.  It's called free speech.  Currently, however, the country has gotten used to arguing about phony issues.  The point used to be made that "facts are stubborn things", but lately, facts are irrelevant to many.

I was struck by this phenomenon again yesterday when the whole upset over the Indiana passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act came to the forefront.  There is an enormous media campaign underway condemning Indiana for passing a bill that would allow individuals to refuse service to gays.  The facts, of course, are that the bill does no such thing, but that seems not to matter.  The argument is made by opponents, the media picks it up, and suddenly those in favor of the bill are labeled bigots and haters by those who really don't even understand the issue.  I happened to see a short segment on Fox News yesterday in which two guests had a debate about the law even though neither one actually understood what the law said or what its effect on the people of Indiana will be. 

It's the same thing we saw with the swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  President Obama had a big ceremony to welcome home this "hero".  Obama brought out Bergdahl's parents who spoke Pashtu and quoted the Koran in the Rose Garden in joy that their son was home.  One might wonder when was the last time that there was a Rose Garden ceremony for an American returning from fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq (this was the first).  Obama then sent Susan Rice onto the nation's TV screens to tell us all that Bergdahl served with "honor and distinction",  even though she knew that was false.  The media replayed these moments again and again.  The facts, however, were that Bergdahl was a deserter.  He has now been charged with that crime (and others), but it took great courage for the Army to start that proceeding despite enormous pressure from the White House to paper over the crime.  The president and those around him knew the truth about Bergdahl, but they still built him up as a hero because that served their purposes.

And how about the so to be signed deal with Iran?  Obama knows that he is agreeing to something that guarantees that Iran will get nuclear weapons in the near future.  He also knows that the agreement will unleash Iran from the sanctions which have helped stop the Iranians fomenting more terrorism across the world.  But these facts don't matter.  Obama portrays this as some sort of major positive accomplishment.  Most of the media repeats these claims without even questioning them.  Obama just says what he wants no matter what the facts.

Even in little things, the lies get accepted.  Look at senator Harry Reid.  The man gets "injured" on New Year's Day with broken ribs, broken bones in his face, especially around his eye, and with damage to his vision.  He's also severely bruised with what looks like injuries from a beating.  But then he tells us that he was exercising with an elastic band that snapped and caused all the injuries.  The band must have been so elastic that it kept hitting him over and over in different places.  But does the media investigate what really happened?  Nope.  They just buy into the story as Reid states it.

One of the most important parts of any democratic society is an educated electorate.  People need to understand the facts so that they can make informed decisions.  Otherwise, rational results cannot be achieved.  Right now, we seem to be losing the battle to inform Americans of the truth.  What is at stake is not the next issue or the next election; it is the very future of this country.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Boycott Indiana???? It's Moronic

I previously wrote about the intolerance of the left in their latest move to boycott Indiana for passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  Since then, more information has come to light which just makes the whole mess worse.

Let's start with the clearest picture of what the left is claiming as the reason to boycott the state of Indiana.  The basic argument is that Indiana just passed a law that would allow businesses to avoid serving gays.

Let's stop here for a moment and examine this claim.  Here's the truth:  last month, before Indiana passed the Religious Freedom act, there was no law in the state of Indiana that prevented a business from serving gays.  In fact, most states in the USA have no such laws.  That means that the Religious Freedom act did not change anything regarding serving gays in state law.  Now, there are federal laws that deal with businesses' ability to deny service to individuals.  The new Indiana law cannot change or limit a federal statute, so again, the Religious Freedom act did not change anything regarding serving gays.  In short, the basic argument of the boycott movement is completely wrong.  Simply put, these folks don't know what they are talking about.

Then there are all those people tweeting about the law who have no idea of its origin.  The law was originally passed by Congress in 1994.  It was written by Chuck Schumer, now a senator from New York.  It was passed by a Congress and signed by a president who were all Democrats (or Democrat controlled).  The boycott people who blame all this on Republicans again don't know what they are talking about.

Then there are states like my own, Connecticut, which have the identical statute.  Why is no one boycotting Connecticut (or Florida or Pennsylvania or Virginia for that matter?)  More than half of the states in the country have this law either in identical or substantially identical form.

The truth is the boycotters are busy being outraged without understanding anything about the purpose of the law (which is to protect the free exercise of religion.)  These lefties are just too busy hating to waste time looking at the facts.


Look At our New Partner For Peace

As president Obama moves the US closer to a deal with Iran which will allow the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons, it is worth taking a look at just who Iran is and how it acts.  We should start in Yemen.  At this moment, the government of Yemen is hanging by a thread under the attack of the Houthi movement and its allies.  The Houthis are Shiites in a nation with a Sunni majority.  According to the French news agency, the Houthis are backed by over 5000 troops under Iranian control (which also includes Hezbollah terrorists and Iraqi Shiite militias.)  Until two days ago, the Yemeni government forces were on their own, but now the Saudis have thrown in their air power and they (and Egypt) may introduce ground forces into the mix as well.  So Iran is mixing into the internal politics of a country about 500 miles from its borders, and it is doing so by sending armed forces to help overthrow the government.  These are hardly the acts of a peaceful nation.

Then there's Syria.  Iran has long been involved in the civil war in that country and was reportedly behind the decision to use chemical weapons on civilians.  In Syria, Iran and its proxies again have troops, but this time they are supporting the long time dictator in his fight to control the nearly 80% of the country that is Sunni.  With Iranian help, about a quarter of a million have been killed.

Then there's Lebanon and Iraq, two other countries where the Iranians are trying to take control.  there are Iranian forces in both countries.

So why are we trusting Iran to actually conform to the requirements of a new nuclear deal?  Hasn't Obama learned that nations that seek to dominate others do not carry out their responsibilities under international agreements?