Another Jobless Jobs Bill

September 26, 2012

Democrats furious that Republicans refuse to support veterans jobs bill creating zero jobs for veterans

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Last week, Democrats failed to pass S. 3457, the ‘‘Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012’’, falling two votes shy when Republicans forced a point-of-order vote, as the bill exceeded spending limits contained in the Budget Control Act.  Had it passed, the measure would have created zero jobs for unemployed, post-9/11 veterans.

Co-sponsor Patty Murray (D, WA) implied her Republican colleagues were using veterans as “political pawns.”  Just before the vote on S. 3457, Senate Democrats shot down a similar GOP bill that would have also created zero jobs for veterans.  Both sides accused the other of being out of touch.

Across the social media interwebs, angry proglodytes slandered Republicans as heartless bastards for depriving needy veterans of zero jobs.

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Potential Jobs

What exactly would the brainchild of Murray and Bill Nelson (D, FL) have done?

  • Create a pilot program “to assess the feasibility and advisability of providing veterans seeking employment with access to computing facilities” to match vet’s jobs skills with available jobs;
  • Ensure that there are at least one disabled veterans’ outreach program specialist and one local veterans’ employment representative per 5,000 square miles”;
  • Require States to consider military training “when approving or denying a commercial driver’s license” or EMT certificate;
  • Conduct a trial program to provide retraining programs at off-base locations.

These impactful initiatives, costing $1 billion over five years, were to have been funded by making passport applicants pay their back taxes.  Nelson had the gall to call the bill, which was essentially a glorified online resumé bank, “commonsense legislation.”  Tom Coburn (R, OK) described it as “a gimmick” and “crap.”   (Coburn was later caught on a live mic describing the kettle as “black.”)

Check that list again to see if any actual jobs would have been created.  Nope, zero.  But wait — advocates insisted the measure would have “potentially created jobs for up to 20,000 veterans.

That’s $50,000 per potential job.  According to White House figures, 707,000 vets are unemployed.  At this rate, it would cost $35,350,000,000 to provide each of them with a potential job.  We’d need to spend $1,000,000,000,000 to give every unemployed person in America a potential job.

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Redundant

‘Even so,’  you say, ‘surely we ought to do something to help veterans find jobs?’  Of course.  We already do.

In August, the White House bragged that its Joining Forces Initiative had exceeded its goal of 125,000 vets hired by private employers.  The same companies pledged to hire another 250,000 by 2014.  The top participant in the program, Amazon.com, actively seeks out veterans, and did so long before any financial incentives were offered by the government.

The bipartisan Vow to Hire Heroes Act, signed into law last November, established a slew of job assistance programs with catchy names:

  • The Veterans Job Bank, aneasy to use online service that connects unemployed veterans to job openings with companies that want to hire them”, lists over half a million jobs openings “specifically targeted at Veterans”;
  • My Next Move for Veterans, an “easy-to-use online tool … that allows veterans to enter information about their experience and skills in the field, and match it with civilian careers”;
  • A Veteran Gold Card allows post-9/11 veterans to “access six months of personalized case management, assessments and counseling at the roughly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers located across the country.”;
  • Hero 2 Hired (H2H), a “comprehensive employment program … that offers everything a … job seeker needs to find their next opportunity” — job listings, those indispensable “career exploration tools,” training resources, “virtual career fairs,” plus nifty Facebook and mobile apps;
  • The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) for 45,000 qualified applicants each year;
  • A hundred hiring fairs sponsored by the Dept. of Commerce, which also went to the considerable effort of creating “strategic partnerships to deal with specific populations of veterans and their unique challenges”;

There’s also a Military Spouse Employment Partnership, a Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Program, and yet another “virtual employment resource center”, VetSuccess.gov. 

So you can see how GOP senators are such evil fucks for refusing to spend $1 billion on another online job bulletin board.
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CCC My Ass

S. 3457’s sponsors said the bill was “inspired by”  FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps.  It’s nothing of the sort.

The CCC was operated by the Army and directly employed 250,000 young men at a time, providing them good pay, shelter, food and clothing. They planted 3 billion trees, created 800 new parks, upgraded nearly every state park in the nation, stocked nearly a billion fish, built hundreds of thousands of miles of roads and trails, performed erosion control on 40 million acres of farmland, and spend 6.5 million work-days fighting fires.  The CCC ran for nine years, cost a bargain $3 billion, and gainfully employed a total of 2.5 million.

S. 3567 is a resumé posting service.

We’re 1,345 days into obama’s administration, and that’s the best he and the Democrats can come up with.  In comparison:

March 4, 1933  FDR takes office

March 27           CCC bill introduced to Congress

March 31           Congress passes CCC

April 7                First enrollee

July 1                  1,500 CCC camps running with 317,000 participants

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200,000 Chain Saws

The two parties in power offer conflicting approaches to job creation.  Democrats rely on a recipe of hiring incentives, retraining programs, re-invent Monster.com several times over, more retraining programs.  The GOP places it faith in tax breaks, tax breaks, spam, easing regulations, tax breaks, and spam. Truth is, neither the Gops nor the Dems have any clue whatsoever how to create jobs, for veterans or anyone else.

As noted above, under the Democrats’ brilliant plan, it would take $35 billion to help every unemployed vet check online to see if by chance a job was waiting for them.  I have a plan to use that dough to give 250,000 out-of-work vets — the same number the CCC employed — a job for the next three years.  And I’ll put them to good use, clearing the dangerously overgrown forests of the American West.

Wildfires consumed a record number of acres this season, costing billions in damages and related costs.  Thanks to global warming, wildfires are seven times worse than they were in the 1970’s.  Unless the overgrowth is cleared, things will only get worse.

I’ll ask the US Military to provide some planning and logistical support gratis, and the program is fully funded without need to increase the federal deficit.

I call it the War on Forest Fires Program (WOFF)

Scope

WOFF is a three-year program with a goal of:  a) reducing wildfire volume by 1/3;  b) providing gainful employment and on-the-job training for 250,000 veterans currently without jobs.

WOFF will employ crews of ex-military personnel across the Western United States to clear overgrown brush and trees on Federal, State, and local land.  Private landowners will be able to contract with WOFF to clear their land.

The total cost of the program is $35.7 billion, and is fully funded by savings in the military budget.  WOFF will also generate significant cost savings to the Federal, state, and local governments in the billions of dollars, resulting from reduced losses to wildfire.  Additional benefits will be acrued from indirect stimulus of the economy through purchases.

Personnel & Salary

All 227,000 unemployed veterans of the post-9/11 era will be employed in fuel-reduction activities.  Pay will be based on experience and former rank. They will receive, on average, the median the 2012 Army E5 salary, or c. $34,000.

A further 23,000 veterans of the Gulf war era will be hired for supervisory and administrative roles.  Pay will be based on experience and former rank. They will receive, on average, the high end of the 2012 Army E6 salary, or c. $40,000.

Housing, food, and clothing will be provided for all participants in the program, as will travel expenses for regular familial visits.

During the fire season, the entire compliment of WOFF will be available to augment existing civilian fire-fighting personnel.

Salary

Old vets             $2.8 billion

Young vets       $25.9 billion

Total salary      $28.7 billion

Equipment

Forestry equipment will be purchased from American manufacturers.  While the actual equipment required will be diverse, the following examples can serve as a rough estimate of costs (extensions reflect a 15% volume discount.)

Item                   Qty.            Ext.

pulaski             216,000    $27,000,000

chain saw       216,000    $171,000,000

‘bobcat’              10,000   $204,000,000

forestry dozer     1,000    $102,000,000

Total equipment               $504,000,000

All additional equipment and materials shall be provided on loan, at no charge, from the US Military.

Administrative Costs & Supplies

Assume 25% overhead based on salaries.

$6.5 billion

Total Program Cost

$35.7 billion

Funding

To fund the program, I shall not rely on passport applications.  First thing we need to do is end the war in Afghanistan.  It’s costing us $300 million a day, and I’m earmarking the first 119 days’ of savings for WOFF.

Alternately, 23 of the 4,702 oversees military bases (4.9%) can be shut down for an average savings of $1.5 billion per base.

Program Benefits

Significant financial benefits will be realized from WOFF.

A detailed analysis by The Western Forestry Leadership Coalition estimates the total costs of wildfires exceeds $3,000 per acre.

To date in 2012, 8.7 million acres have burned in the United States, for a total cost of around $30 billion dollars.

If WOFF’s goal of reducing fires by 1/3 is achieved, the program will have paid for itself in just over three years.

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How Hard Can it Be?

It took FDR 36 days to put a quarter of a million men back to work with the CCC — just one of the many programs he implemented in his first 100 days.  The current Dems and Gops in Washington have spent the past twelve years bickering, posturing, and floating asinine schemes while our economy dies and one in five can’t find work.

As my back-of-the-envelope exercise above shows, It shouldn’t be that hard to come up with real solutions to our pressing problems.  Yet, apparently, it is beyond the faculties of our Congress and our President.

Patty Murray and Bill Nelson are incompetent, delusional imbeciles.  Their colleagues in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, are all incompetent, delusional imbeciles.  (Bernie Sanders gets a pass.) So, let’s fire the lot of them and elect instead some ordinary citizens with brains and real common sense.

And vote for Jill Stein.

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


The Labor Pains of Robert Reich

September 4, 2012

Robert Reich is sorely disappointed in obama’s economic proposals, or lack thereof.  So why does Reich still support obama?

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Robert Reich isn’t happy with either Mitt Romney or barack obama.  Reich, Secretary of Labor under President Clinton and ardent advocate of leftist ideals no longer embraced by the Left, wants to hear how they’d remedy “the worst economy since the Great Depression.”

“Neither candidate,” Reich laments, “wants to take any chances by offering any large, serious proposals. Both are banking instead on negative campaigns that convince voters the other guy would be worse.”  Reich believes this “anti-election” spells disaster for the next president. “The public won’t have endorsed any new ideas or bold plans, which means he won’t have a clear mandate to do anything on the economy.”

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 Desperately Seeking Bold

Reich is especially pained by the lack of “any bold ideas” coming from obama, who Reich endorsed early in the 2008 primaries, and whose stinky jockstrap he’s faithfully carried ever since.  As one of those who still believe obama is just too timid to act on his good intentions, Reich offers a few friendly suggestions to the Democrat’s choice:

  • “Propose a new WPA, modeled after the Depression-era jobs program that hired hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, or a new Civilian Conservation Corps”
  • Permanently exempt the first $25,000 of income from payroll taxes, and eliminate the income ceiling;
  • Reinstate Glass-Steagall;
  • Break up the big banks, “so Wall Street doesn’t cause another financial collapse.”

C’mon barry, we can do it!

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Cognitive Disconnect

It’s frustrating to watch someone as highly intelligent as Reich become so incredibly stupid. Actions speak louder than words, and after 3 1/2 years, it’s obvious that obama has no intention of doing any of those sorts of things. For obama is Wall Street’s bitch.  But that’s obama’s one great gift: he’s a stupid-maker, with the power to turn otherwise sane, rational people into blathering fools.

To date, obama’s economic policy has been very un-Reichian: failed bailouts of failed big banks & failed big auto; a dogged refusal to go after mortgage swindlers or Wall Street brigands; the eager signing of a series of jobs-killing “free trade” treaties; a jobs (sic) bill that contained under-funded, already-failed measures — what union boss Richard Trumka labeled “nibbling around the edge” — sandwiched between gratuitous guttings of Social Security and Medicare.  The economy remains moribund and real unemployment remains stuck at c. 15% — a figure Reich himself cited to justify labeling our current malaise a “depression.”  Most of the ‘new’ jobs created under obama are low wage substitutes for lost high-paying ones.  Half of recent college graduates can’t find employment, while job-seekers over 40 are plain S.O.L. As a result, obama is reduced to speaking about jobs ‘saved’, not created — or promising to be more like a Clinton next term.

Reich, like most Americans, falls for the ‘lesser of two evils’ trap.  When faced with Romney’s promise to bring back the economic policies of the Harding, Coolidge and Hoover administrations, dragging along obama like a petulant child seems the only option.

Were Reich to wrest free from obama the Deceiver’s svengali spell, he’d see that there is indeed someone running for president who proposes just the “big bold ideas” Reich yearns for — Jill Stein.

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Got Bold?

Want bold, Bob?  While Romney promises 12 million jobs — eventually — through laissez-faire policies & expansion of fossil fuel production, and obama hints at another million or so jobs ‘saved’, Jill Stein takes the bull by the horns:

“We will end unemployment in America once and for all by guaranteeing a job at a living wage for every American willing and able to work”, Stein proposes, including 16 millions jobs in sustainable energy, retrofitting, and mass transit.

Want aggressive financial reform?  While the obamney twins are mute on the subject, Stein will:

  • Create a federal bank to take over distressed mortgages and either restructure the mortgages or rent homes to the occupants;
  • Nationalize the Federal Reserve;
  • Break up “too big to fail” banks;
  • End future bailouts for financial institutions, instead using FDIC powers to reopen them as non-profit public banks;
  • Regulate all financial derivatives;
  • Reinstate Glass-Steagall.

Hey Bob, want tax justice?  In contrast to obama, who carefully avoided every opportunity to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich, or to Romney, who advocates even more tax cuts for the nobility plutocrats “job-creators”, Stein proposes:

  • A 90% tax on bonuses for the bankers Bush and obama bailed-out;
  • Making corporate tax subsidies transparent in public budgets;
  • A fair, progressive tax system “distributed in proportion to ability to pay.”

Finally, in contrast to the imperial war-monger, obama, or Romney, who wants to increase military spending to unprecedented levels, Stein will cut the military budget in half, a $360 billion savings toward reducing the stifling deficit.
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Wrong Horse, Bob

Clearly, Robert Reich should endorse Jill Stein for president. Why he, like so many liberals, still clings to the vain hope that obama will change at some point, deserves scrutiny.

Perhaps Reich believes that only someone well-integrated into the political machinery can hope to accomplish anything in Washington.  Hardly a plus-point, when that political machine is comprised exclusively of politician-whores who’ll sell their votes (and their souls, if they had any) to the highest bidder.

Likely, Reich falls for the bogus argument that vast amounts of experience is required to hold office.  Ignoring for a moment how this trope perpetuates the Dem/Gop choke-hold, look at the “experience” of the obamney twins.  The one was a mafia lawyer who wormed his way up the party machine hierarchy; the other, a financier, born to the manor, adept at making gobs of money by clever shuffling around of other people’s money.  When the backgrounds of the occupants of the Oval Office are limited to corruption, graft, and plunder, it’s no wonder the state we’re in.

Finally, Reich may think that third parties have no chance in our elections system.  That’s a tautology — they have no chance because no one gives them a chance. Stein’s name will be printed on at least 33 state ballots this November, and write-ins for her will count in a further three.  Her campaign is currently working to get on every state ballot except Oklahoma.  Were every liberal and moderate to vote this November based on their beliefs, and not some vestigial team loyalty, Jill Stein would be our next president.

And, if prominent, influential liberals like Robert Reich began supporting a candidate like Jill Stein, who advocates true liberal ideals and programs, instead of continuing to make lame excuses for a devious, corrupt, corporatist whore like barack obama, we could end this farce and quick.

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(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


That Steaming Manure Pile of Political Polling

July 26, 2012

As I sit down to write, I’ve just returned from shoveling manure at the barn.  Which makes me ideally qualified to comment on the latest NBC/WSJ poll, as it’s a stinking pile of horseshit, too.

Last week’s CBS/NYT poll sent a shudder through the obama-cult chattering class.  Showing a drop in Dear Leader’s approval/disapproval rating from an already anemic 42/46 to a ruinous 36/48, the CBS poll was generally perceived as indicative of the backdraft of obama’s decision to go nasty on Romney.

With the writing seemingly on the wall, obama’s sycophants braced for more bad news.  Would the upcoming NBC/WSJ poll confirm the worst?

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Do You Believe in Miracles?

The progosphere gave a collective sigh of relief when a veritable miracle occurred yesterday.  The PRAVDA  MSNBC poll showed obama with a slim 49/48 approval advantage, and a comfortable 49/43 lead over Romney in the ubiquitous “if the election were held today…” question.

To get these stellar results, all NBC had to do was survey +11 Democrat/Lean over Republican/lean (a D/R/I of 46/35/19). In comparison, the D/R/I in the 2010 mid-terms was 35/35/29.  In 2008, D/R/I was 39/32/29.  Rasmussen currently estimates it at 34/35/31.

Let that sink in for a moment:  +11 Democrats yielded +6 support for obama.

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Working Overtime at the Fudge Factory

With so much riding on this poll, NBC took no chances that it would turn out unfavorably for its employer, obama.  Across the board, segments preferential to obama were over-sampled:

Group                             NBC     USA

Bachelor’s                      24%    18%

Post-grad                       18%     10%

Union household          20%     17%

2008 BO/McCain          +9        +6

NBC’s population also comprised registered voters (RV), who consistently show greater preference for obama than “likely voters” (LV), which is a technical term used by pollsters when referring to those people who are likely to vote in the upcoming election.

As a hint to how likely NBC’s sample will find their way to a polling booth on November 6th, 12% didn’t vote in 2008.  Another 4% can’t remember who they voted for.

Yet everyone accepts NBC’s results with a straight face.  Real Clear Politics robotically plugs it into its influential RCP averages, alongside results from firms that survey “likely voters” (see above for definition), like Rasmussen and Quinnipiac, also the only two pollsters to weight party identity.

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Just An Outlier

Ah, but Rasmussen is a “conservative polling outlet”, we are reminded by the completely neutral The Hill.  Its polls are just outliers that can be safely ignored.  Rasmussen has indeed received criticism in the past for missing the mark, particularly in 2010.  Its methodology for determining party identification has also been questioned.  Is Rasmussen fudging its results, or just applying a more sophisticated approach to gauge the current political waters?

obama lackeys, desperate for good news, struggle to interpret auguries contained in the plethora of conflicting polls. As a rule, they pounce on any poll favoring Dear Leader, while viciously lashing out at any negative results, and not just those from Rasmussen.

  • In May, at the height of its push of the “War Against Women” meme, OFA got all in a tizzy after a CBS poll showed Romney leading among women;
  • Kos refuses to believe that Romney is ahead!
  • This minor blogger’s reaction epitomizes proglodyte, head-in-the-sand approach: “The 36% favorability … just is too small to be believed”, she insists, pointing to contrary numbers from earlier (Dem-skewed) polls;
  • Over at the once regal, now tawdry, The New Republic, Nate Cohn assures the Faithful that the 6-pt. approvals drop in CBS’ poll “just wasn’t as bad as it might seem.”  How so? Because CBS “has consistently found Obama with lower favorability ratings.”  Which, of course, can’t be true of our beloved barry, so “those numbers were fairly meaningless”;
  • Little Ezra, WaPo wag and obama butt-monkey, has a sure-fire approach to sleeping at night:  “ignore individual polls” and trust in the RCP average, which shows obama with “a small but persistent lead of between two and six percentage points….”


In April, Mother Jones columnist, David Corn, attempted to wrap his big, ivy league-educated brain around the perplexities of the wildly fluctuating polls.

“[T]here is a fundamental dynamic to the race to consider: Many voters tend to like Obama but are disappointed [in] the economy. And many voters—perhaps some of the same voters—don’t like Mitt Romney … but they fancy the idea of a business-savvy Mr. Fix-It who can turn around the economy. Consequently, voters in the middle … will be tugged in opposite directions over the next five-and-a-half months, as they sort out conflicting impulses. Consequently, poll results will see-saw.”

Eureka! the genius Corn has solved the riddle of the shifting polls — those dullard voters who are not members of Phi Beta Kappa simply change their tiny minds from one day to the next.  Consequently, it has nothing to do with those wide anomalies in party affiliation from one poll to the next.

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Comparing Apples to Oranges, and Kumquats and Lingonberries.

Such divination is impossible so long as assorted pollsters proffer results like the latest out of Michigan. Rasmussen has obama +6; Mitchell, Romney +1; and PPP, obama by a whopping +14!  In 2008, obama won Michigan 57/41 over McCain (+16).  PPP would have us believe that support for the Hopey-Changey One has remained virtually intact among Wolverines.

What’s behind the disparity?  Mitchell is a local firm about which I admittedly know very little.  Public Policy Polling (PPP) is an openly pro-Democratic shop.  Founded by a prog activist, and frequently working hand-in-hand with Daily Kos and SEIU, PPP readily admits it skews its samples.  It also relies on IVR, generally considered less accurate than live calls.

PPP cleverly varies its methods of distortion from poll to poll.  Usually, its Democrat proportion hovers in the mid-forties. Other times, it will increase union household representation three-fold.  As a favor to Kos, PPP notoriously found Scott Walker and Tom Barrett dead even just before the Wisconsin recall vote.  PPP always makes sure to issue one honest poll just before an election to substantiate its boast of accuracy.

In its recent Michigan survey, PPP had a D/R/I of 32/28/40 — only +4 Dem, in line with that state’s voter registration. But the high indy is odd.  Delve deeper into the crosstabs, and we find 31% of respondents described themselves as “moderate”.  Yet these moderates split 70/20 obama v. Romney.  Has PPP detected a silent groundswell of obama support not reflected in any other poll in the country, or is something fishy going on?

Many other pollsters release skewed results without bothering to weight the samples.  A May national poll by Reuters with a D/R/I of  47/38/15 (D +9) had obama up by +7.

Again:  +9 Dem yielded +7 obama.

On the whole, big media outlets polls consistently skew democratic, including, for reasons unknown, FOX.

Even without all the intentional distortion, it’s foolish to equate polls of RV with LV.  In the past, RV polls have averaged +2 to +4 support for Dems vs. LV.  RCP blends 24 Michigan polls for its latest average, which has obama +4.2:

  • The 15 surveys of 10,768 LV, yielded +1 obama;
  • The 9 surveys of  7,082 RV yielded +10 obama.

Of the nine RV polls, six were by PPP and two by NBC.

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Why Serve Fudge?

Wouldn’t it be in the best interest of polling firms to produce the most accurate results possible?  It would if their only motivation was their reputation.  Hence, the results from the established firms all fall within a narrow range, and show a very close race with low approvals for both candidates.  But as we saw, places like PPP are in the bag, while others hire out to the highest bidder; MSNBC is nothing less than obama’s ministry of propaganda.

Falsely inflating obama’s support helps his campaign in a number of ways.  If approvals for Romney can be shown as weak, it bolsters OFA’s attempt to portray its opponent as unlikable.  And a recent Pew poll shows many voters still forming an impression of Romney.

That same Pew poll, however, revealed that 90% of voters feel they already know enough about obama to make up their mind  — and most find him unpalatable.  From these figures, analysts have extrapolated that “the president’s approval rating among undecided voters is languishing in the 20s.”

Which makes preventing despondency from infecting obama’s own base paramount.  Enthusiasm among Democrats is down 22% from 2008, while GOP enthusiasm is up 16%. (Yet another poll, this one by Gallup.)  Until news outlets like RCP get more discriminating, a smattering of outrageous polls will suffice to mask the crumbling of obama’s support.

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Call It What It Is

We now live in a fact-free society, where everyone feels they have the right to say whatever and believe whatever.  Enough is enough.  Next time you read or hear someone cite one of these ridiculous polls, speak out and call it what it is: ‘a load of horseshit!’


(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All Rights Reserved.


Elizabeth Warren’s Struggle With Truth

June 3, 2012

Whatever else can be said about Elizabeth Warren, one thing is certain:  she is no less than 96.875% white.

And yet Warren, the anointed Democratic nominee for the Massachusetts Senate race, has presented herself for decades as a Cherokee Indian to the public, to professional organizations, and to employers.  This despite no hard evidence, only family lore foggily recalled from childhood.

Ever since the story broke on April 27th, Warren’s heritage controversy has blotted out all other aspects of the campaign.  Warren’s detractors see it as indicative of her untrustworthiness, while her supporters insist it is all much ado about nothing.  The media has, with few exceptions, been reluctant to cover the story at all, much less dig deep, and even then, has rarely gotten the details straight.  So, before passing judgement on Warren, a closer look at the facts is in order.

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Is Warren Really a Cherokee?

Given their turbulent, tragic legacy of ethnic cleansing and forced assimilation, the several Native American tribes face a daunting task in the preservation & revival of a fragile, once fading culture.  In defining their community, they must balance inclusiveness with dedication to values.

Every Tribe, Band or Nation has its own admission requirements, all based on some ancestral link.  While many “official” Indians may look white and have white names, each has made a life-long commitment to immerse themselves in, and work to keep vibrant, their respective culture, language, and national identity.

Warren admits she never formally applied for Cherokee citizenship.  A good call, as Warren’s ancestry fails the citizenship test of the three Federally-recognized Cherokee tribes.  The largest, The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has no “blood quantum” standard, but does require the applicant have at least one ancestor listed on the Dawes Rolls, a 1906 federal census of Cherokees.  It’s important to stress that what’s being defined is not membership in an ethnic group, rather citizenship in a sovereign nation.  The Cherokee Constitution is explicit on this, and the Dawes Rolls enumerated many freedmen who’d joined the tribe, as well as whites who’d intermarried.  Warren’s allegedly Cherokee great-great-great-grandmother, O.C. Smith, died in the mid 19th century. Neither of  Warren’s maternal ancestors alive when the Dawes Rolls were compiled, John H. Crawford and Hannie Crawford, appear anywhere on them.

Warren would also be rejected by the United Keetoowah Band, which, in addition to a Dawes Rolls ancestor, requires its citizens possess at least 1/4 quarter Cherokee blood.

The 1/16 blood quantum requirement often mentioned by the media is for the Eastern Band of Cherokee  of North Carolina, which also requires an ancestor listed on the Baker Roll.  Warren, at best of 1/32nd Cherokee descent (or, as she most recently intimated, 1/64th), and lacking a Baker roll ancestor, would not be permitted to join this tribe, either.

As a fall-back, Warren could have paid the $35 fee to submit her genealogy to the Cherokee Heritage Documentation Center in hopes of receiving a Declaration of Cherokee Heritage “suitable for framing” that would allow her “to display and be proud of [her] heritage,” while shielding her “from being labeled a ‘wannabe Indian’ rather than someone seeking their true heritage.”

Even here, Warren may have struck out.  Frantic efforts to unearth documentation confirming Smith’s Cherokee status have come up with nothing, other than evidence that Warren’s great-great-great grandfather may have belonged to a local militia that participated in the notorious “Trail of Tears”, the brutal relocation of the Cherokee to Oklahoma.

Cherokee historian and genealogist, Twila Barnes, offers convincing evidence that the sole scrap of documentation for Warren’s claim, a marriage license listing Hannie Crawford, Warren’s grandmother’s, race as “Indian”, actually lists her residence as “Indian Territory.”  Warren’s “mammaw” was just another white Sooner who stole land from the Cherokee.
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Does Warren Have the Right to Call Herself Cherokee?

None of this matters to Warren, who choses to ‘self-identify’ based on vague family lore. “Being Native American has been part of my story I guess since the day I was born,” gushed Warren.  “I still have a picture on my mantel … of my grandfather. And my Aunt Bea has walked by that picture at least a 1,000 times remarked that he – her father, my Papaw — had high cheek bones like all of the Indians do.”

The exotic notion of being a secret indian princess must have proved irresistible to the plain, bookish daughter of a janitor.   Yet Warren also nurtured this fantasy as an adult, listing herself as “Cherokee” when contributing WASPy recipes like crab dip with mayonnaise to a fundraising cookbook with the kitschy title “Pow Wow Chow.”

Nothing offends actual tribal members more than “Pretendians” who, for cachet, claim Indian ancestry, but have no desire to participate in tribal life.  “If you’re going to claim it, you have to help your people out,” admonishes Rhonda LeValdo, president of the Native American Journalists Association.  “Don’t just use it when you want to use it.”

In direct response to Warren’s claims, Barnes and another prominent figure in the Cherokee community, David Cornsilk, have formed a group  to convey their sense that “false claims like Elizabeth Warren is making are harmful to the Cherokee people.”  No one, they feel, “has the right to try to rewrite it or make up fictitious stories so they can fit in it or take advantage of it.”

What did Warren Claim and When?

One can, of course, acknowledge one’s Native American ancestry without professing to Native American identity.  Warren, who is at best 3.125% Indian (see update below), has the right to embarrass herself at cocktail parties by saying she’s a Cherokee.  Nor is there any law that prevents a person, whose family tree is pure white for four generations, to fancy themselves a member of an Indian tribe.  Definitely odd-ball, but not illegal.

Warren’s assertions would have fallen merely into the realm of tacky or kooky, had she not also listed herself  as a minority in a professional directory frequently referenced by hiring deans.  It has been confirmed that, even while depicting herself as a minority in the law professors’ directory, Warren listed herself as “white” on her U Texas application.  Warren has reluctantly confessed to telling two of her employers, Penn and Harvard, that she was a minority.  Warren insists this played no role in her hiring, something the schools officially verify.  Both Penn and Harvard, though, listed her as a minority on federally-mandated diversity hiring reports.

This is a clear violation of Federal Affirmative Action hiring policy, which stipulates that a Native American is “a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America, and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.”  (My emphasis.)  Accepting a recipe cribbed off of Martha Stewart does not count as “community recognition.”
_

Dances With Lies

Since the story broke, Warren has issued a series of explanations, each one contradicting the previous.  Initially, she denied ever listing herself as a minority.  When that was proven false, she insisted it was in hopes of being “invited to a luncheon, a group or something with people who are like I am,” but abandoned the practice when no one asked her out.   Yet, since she was only listed as a generic “minority” (h/t Legal Insurrection), how did she expect to connect with fellow 31/32nd non-indian law profs to share memories of sticking turkey feathers in their hair as little girls?

Warren next denied she even knew her employers had listed her as a minority.  “I think I read it on the front page of the Herald,” Warren responded, when asked about Harvard’s having promoted her purported minority status.  When this was also proven false, Warren claimed she’d misunderstood the ‘When did you first learn…?’ part of the reporter’s question.

Faced with persistent demands for clarification, Warren re-shuffled the facts, creating a tale in which, while she had listed herself as a minority in a directory, she’d never told her prospective employers she was a Cherokee.  When that was exposed as untrue, Warren insisted she only told Penn (1987), and Harvard (1992) after being hired — each time in passing, to make chit-chat over lunch.

In politics, this is known as “spin”.  In the real world, it’s called getting caught making shit up.  No wonder wags have dubbed Warren “Lie-awatha” and “Dances With Lies.”
_

Is Warren Fit For Public Office?

Warren’s performance under this character test is disconcerting for a number of reasons.

First, her inept handling of the accelerating controversy raises doubt as to whether Warren, a life-long academician and political tyro, has the chops for a Senate campaign.  Her refusal to promptly to tackle the crisis head-on (her literal fleeing from reporters and slamming doors in their faces evoked memories of John Edwards cowering in a toilet stall), was belatedly followed by series of stumbling, unconvincing retractions.

Second, her rapidly-shifting story indicates a comfort with mendacity all too common among today’s office-seekers.  More alarming, Warren’s struggle with truth is not limited to her Cherokee claims, but rather pervades every aspect of her public persona.

Trying to establish her hard-scrabble origins, the wealthy, Ivy-League academic told a story about her grandmother, who “drove a wagon in the land rush to settle territory out west. It was 1889, she was 15 years old…She lived to be 94, to see her youngest grandchild -– that’s me -– graduate from college.…”  Except her Sooner “mammaw”, mentioned above, died nearly a decade before Warren graduated.  It was Warren’s other grandmother who attended her graduation.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never mixed up my grandmothers.

Warren’s chief selling point is her reputation as a “watchdog” over fraudulent mortgage practices, someone who identifies with and protects struggling home owners “being hammered” by predatory lenders.  Yet now comes the revelation that during the 1990’s, Warren made hefty profits ‘flipping’ foreclosed houses she and her brother bought on the cheap.  And she financed this enterprise with an interest-free loan from Harvard.

A recently dug-up video clip shows Warren declaring, in all earnestness, that she was “the first nursing mother to take the bar,”  perhaps just in the State of New Jersey, perhaps in the History of Western Civilization.  As one of her fellow law students observed, since the NJ Bar most assuredly does not track statistics on breast feeding, how can Warren make this claim?   Of the few plausible explanations, the least-damaging is that someone at the time cracked wise, ‘Gee, Liz, you must be the first …’ and Warren’s fertile imagination later transformed it into a bullet point for her CV.

Scott Brown and Co. have another five months to poke around for more.
_

Donnie Darko for Senate

All this leaves one with the impression of Warren as a fabulist disturbingly out of touch with reality.  Here is an adult professional, an Ivy-league professor & former head of a federal regulatory agency, who for decades has indulged in a self-aggrandizing childhood fantasy.  It leaves one with a queasiness not unlike if, during a stump speech, a candidate gave a shout-out to their long-time supporter and imaginary friend.

When caught lying, your typical candidate at first denies it, then, if that doesn’t work, ‘fesses up and tries to move on.  Yet Warren’s inability to admit she’s not really an Indian princess is seemingly pathological:

“It’s who I am, it’s how I grew up. It’s me, part of me, through and through. I can’t change that.’’

“I won’t deny who I am, I won’t deny my heritage.”

“This was real in my life. I can’t deny my heritage. I can’t and I won’t.”

These soul-baring plaints were uttered by Warren just Friday, when, instead of putting the issue to rest, she felt compelled to fly to Oklahoma and stand in front of her childhood home to spin a new yarn about her parents needing to elope because her mother was part (1/16) Cherokee and Delaware.  (Now it’s Delaware, too?)  It took but a few hours before the breitbarters exposed this as yet another confection of Lizzie’s fertile imagination.  For their nuptials, it seems, Warren’s parents traveled all of 14 miles to the county seat, to be wed by the local minister.
_

A “Liberal Champion?”

Is this is the best the Dems can do?  Is an inexperienced, completely un-vetted, thoroughly nutty professor really their idea of a “Liberal Champion” to lift the Mongol Yoke from Teddy’s seat?  If so, the Democratic Party is hopelessly inept and on its last legs.

In fact, Bay State Dems did have a viable alternative to the hapless, flawed, mendacious Warren.  Someone with a true liberal platform, a confident, feisty, yet endearing charm, a seemingly impeccable background, plus actual experience running for office.  Sounds great?  No, actually, because Dem big-wigs treated this fellow Democrat like the enemy.  Her name is Marisa DeFranco, and this weekend, party leaders took unprecedented steps to ensure that the voters of Massachusetts would have no chance to reject the anointed Warren.

We’ll look next at why Marisa DeFranco so frightened the Dem Machine.

_

UPDATE ( 6/5/12):

*  In response to my inquiries, Twila Barnes confirmed that her research team did a thorough search of the Dawes Rolls and found not a single Warren ancestor on them.  Nor can a Warren ancestor be found on any of the two dozen existing rolls, lists, musters or censuses of Cherokee;

* Barnes has also just completed an exhaustive study of Warren’s entire family tree — something Warren herself never deemed necessary — proving that every single Warren ancestor going back for five generations was listed on records as “white.”   For those of you who are fractionally-challenged, that makes Warren 0/32nds, or ZERO PERCENT, American Indian;

* Warren, insisting that Aunt Bea’s just-so fables trump cold, hard facts, sticks to her jalousie of Cherokee heritage.  In a WBZ interview, Warren declared that if elected, she’d be the first senator from Massachusetts “so far as I know who has Native American heritage”;

* At the blog Cherokees Demand Truth From Elizabeth Warren, Barnes has granted Warren’s long-time wish, an invitation to a luncheon date with a real live Cherokee Indian.  To date, Warren has not accepted.

_
(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


Murder Drone

May 8, 2012

The obama administration finally responded to mounting outcry about its campaign of targeted killings with drones — by bragging about it.

Until this week, the White House had deflected criticism and blocked Freedom of Information requests by refusing to either confirm or deny the existence of the drone operations, which opponents say violates both federal and international law.  But with activist groups like Codepink holding anti-drone rallies over the weekend, and following a Sunday editorial in the New York Times by the ACLU, which urged the courts to intervene if the president did not direct the CIA to release relevant documents, the time had come to address their concerns. The response came not by the president himself, rather in a prepared statement recited before the Woodrow Wilson Center by a White House designated liar, John Brennan.  Long-winded and obtuse, it not only confirmed the existence of president Nixon’s obama’s secret bombing of Cambodia drone killings in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, it attempted to defend it under international law and on moral grounds.

Through Brennan, the obama administration made five main claims about it’s murder-by-drone spree is:

  1. Effective
  2.  “Transparent”
  3. Legal under Federal Law
  4. Legal under International Law
  5. Ethical

All five are brazen lies.

_

1. It’s Effective?

With obama having launched five times as many drones strikes as Bush (267 vs. 52), Brennan gave a glowing report on the “great progress” made and the pending demise of al-Qaeda:

  • ” a shadow of its former self”
  • “left with just a handful of capable leaders and operatives”
  • “ranks have dwindled and scattered”
  • “on the road to destruction”
  • “struggles to communicate with subordinates and affiliates”
  • “Morale is low”
  • “struggling to attract new recruits”
  • “In short, al-Qa’ida is losing, badly.”

But check that sigh of relief, children — the al-Qaeda bogeyman under your bed is still very, very scary:

  • “the dangerous threat from al-Qa’ida has not disappeared”
  • “continues to look to its affiliates and adherents to carry on its murderous cause”
  • “worrying to witness al-Qa’ida’s merger with al-Shabaab, whose ranks include foreign fighters, some with U.S. passports”
  • “still have the intent to attack the United States”
  • “a mistake to believe this threat has passed.” 

It would be foolish for us to trust two proven lairs, Bush and obama. Yet, since everything is secret, it’s impossible for the public to assess whether the drone attacks are doing much good. We really have no idea how strong al-Quaeda is, or ever was. Over the course of eleven years, al-Quaeda has launched a grand total of three terrorists attacks against the West. In comparison, from 1967 to 1977, the Baader-Meinhof Gang/RAF, a loose network of urban radicals, pulled off dozens of bombings, assassinations and kidnappings. Groups like RZ, ETA, and the IRA were even more prolific.

One thing we can be sure of — so long as it aids obama’s agenda, obama will always spot the bogeyman under our beds.

_

2. There’s Transparency?

The obama administration’s idea of “transparency” is to send John Brennan to the Wilson Center to issue platitudes. “I’m here today because President Obama has instructed us to be more open with the American people about these efforts.”

After reminding us that obama “had pledged to share as much information as possible with the American people ‘so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable’”, Brennan refused to “discuss the sensitive details of any specific operation today.   I will not, nor will I ever, publicly divulge sensitive intelligence sources and methods.”

In a fatherly tone, Brennan noted that counter-terrorism tools,

do not exist in a vacuum.  They are stronger and more sustainable when the American people understand and support them.  They are weaker and less sustainable when the American people do not.  As a result of my remarks today, I hope the American people have a better understanding of this critical tool, why we use it, what we do, how carefully we use it, and why it is absolutely essential to protecting our country and our citizens.”

So, children, trust Dear Leader.  And stop asking annoying questions.

_

3. Legal Under U.S. Law?

“[A]s a matter of domestic law,” Brennan assured us, “the Constitution empowers the President to protect the nation from any imminent threat of attack.”   Hmm. Art. II, Sec. 2 states: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the Unites States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.” Art. IV Sec. 4 states “The United States shall … protect each [State] against Invasion….”

In Congress is vested power to:

  • Declare war
  • Make rules concerning capture
  • Raise and support Armies, maintain a Navy
  • Make rules for the regulation of the armed Forces
  • Call forth the militia
  • Etc.

The Framers were exceedingly cautious about granting the president war powers. “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates,” wrote Madison to Jefferson, “that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.”

The claim of iron-clad constitutionality is actually thinly based on the standard interpretation of the president’s role as CiC & ‘first responder’ to invasions or imminent threats of attack on the US. Such a scenario envisions the United States at peace but about to be hit with an invasion or attack. Following his handling of this initial attack, the president is still required to get Congress’ approval to continue hostilities, as now codified by the War Powers Act.  If 9/11 counts as the first blow in a war, akin to Pearl Harbor, then we have been “at war” with Al Qaeda for over a decade. Any of the subsequent attacks the enemy is allegedly concocting — and the drone strikes allegedly thwarting — are no more “imminent threats” than was the Japanese fleet’s action at Leyte Gulf.

Our Republic has long struggled to check the propensity of presidents to recklessly engage in war without the consent of the people. On the eve of the Mexican-American War, a young congressman, Abraham Lincoln, wrote words that resonate today:

“Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose — and allow him to make war at pleasure…. how could you stop him? You may say to him, ‘I see no probability of [an invasion]’ but he will say to you ‘be silent; I see it, if you don’t.’

“The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress,” Lincoln believed, was to prevent the oppression of kings, who “had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object.” So the Framers “resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.” To do otherwise” places our President where kings have always stood.”

While our current flock of sheep Congress has acquiesced in obama’s usurpation of its war powers, that does not make it constitutional.

_

4. Legal Under International Law?

The obama administration’s justification for its drone campaign so twists & perverts what international law actually says, it’s worth debunking it in detail.

_
A State of Armed Conflict
“As a matter of international law, the United States is in an armed conflict al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and associated forces”

Under the Geneva Convention, only sovereign entities employing regular military forces are granted belligerent status.  The Taliban, as the deposed former government, could be considered a belligerent fighting a war of liberation in afghanistan.  But al-Qaeda is neither a sovereign entity, nor do its personnel operate as regulated soldiers under arms.  International law is explicit on this — al-Qaeda is a terrorist group, its members civilians subject to civilian criminal law. Using a drone to kill a suspected terrorist violates international humanitarian law — for one, the drone is incapable of offering the suspect the required chance to surrender.

Like Bush before him, obama chooses to treat al-Qaeda as a sovereign belligerent to justify using military force against it. While this may be convenient, it creates a conundrum.  International law treats everyone in a combat zone as either a lawful combatant or a civilian. Combatants receive what is known as privilege — they cannot be punished for any (militarily legitimate) violent acts they may commit. Combatants may, however, be proscetuted for war crimes: violent acts not militarily justified.

Civilians in a combat zone may not be the targets of combat actions. Civilians who directly participate in hostilities (“DPH”) lose that immunity (i.e., they may be targeted while engaged in combat) and are considered unlawful combatants subject to trial and punishment. Ironically, this makes the CIA employees piloting the drones war criminals.

If al-Qaeda is a belligerent at war with us, then its acts are legitimate acts of war, its members lawful combatants immune from criminal prosecution.  To circumvent this, obama has adopted the Bush administration’s expediency of fabricating a new class unrecognized by international law, “unlawful enemy combatant”, and denying this class either due process as civilians or fair treatment as PoWs.

_
Right of Self-Defense
“…We may also use force consistent with our inherent right of national self-defense…”

This assumedly refers to Chapter VII, Art. 51 of the UN Charter: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations….”  But again, this is irrelevant when dealing with a terrorist group. The UN has only ever approved non-military sanctions against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and in 2011 de-linked the sanctions to better distinguish between the Taliban’s “insurgency” vs. al-Qaeda’s “terrorism.”

_
No Ban on Drones
“… There is nothing in international law that bans the use of remotely piloted aircraft for this purpose …”

It comes as no surprise that drones are not mentioned by name as one of the weapons banned in either the 1925 or 1980 Geneva Protocols.  The 1977 Additional Protocol I, however, does declare that “the right … to chose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited”, prohibits the employment of “weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering”, and obliges signatories to determine whether the “adoption of a new weapon, means or method of warfare” is subject to these prohibitions.

Regardless, any conventional weapon can be misused in the commission of a war crime.

_
“Active” Battlefield

“.. There is nothing … that prohibits us from using lethal force against our enemies outside of an active battlefield…”

The treaties governing the conduct of war (Geneva Convention IV & 1977 Additional Protocols; Hague Convention V) stipulate distinct rules for conduct permissible inside a “combat zone” vs. outside. In brief, engaging in military actions outside of a combat zone is a grave violation of international law.  The obama administration has concocted the neologism “active-“ or “hot battlefield” to cloak in a fig leaf of propriety its illegal use of military force outside of combat zones.  In effect, obama has declared the entire world to be a battle zone. This reckless and unprecedented act has alarmed the international human rights community and badly tarnished the reputation of the United States.

_
Sovereignty
“…at least when the country involved consents or is unable or unwilling to take action against the threat…”

Outside of Afghanistan,  our co-belligerent whose territory is a combat zone, drone attacks are a clear violation of the sovereignty of neutral nations.  Simply having John Brennan utter the words “The United States of America respects national sovereignty and international law” does not make it so. The same day as Brennan’s speech, Pakistan’s foreign minister declared: “[w]e consider drones as illegal, non-productive and accordingly unacceptable.”

The US could claim that, by failing to meets its Hague IV obligations as a neutral, Pakistan has become a co-belligerent of al-Qaeda … and declare war. As it stands, Pakistan has the right to shoot down our drones, and appeal to the UN.  Under Hague IV, individual nationals of belligerent states enjoy extensive protections, their neutral host in fact is enjoined from interning or handing them over.

_
Targeting of Civilians

“…Targeted strikes conform to the principle of distinction—the idea that only military objectives may be intentionally targeted and that civilians are protected from being intentionally targeted…”

Who we target for murder-by-drone, and how we decide, may well constitute a war crime. The International Red Cross clarifies DPH as including:

  • Capturing, wounding or killing military personnel;
  • Damaging military objects;
  • Disturbing military logistics through sabotage or road blocks;
  • Interfering electronically with military computer networks;
  • Transmitting tactical targeting intelligence for a specific attack;
  • Laying mines or booby-traps.

Distinct is ‘indirect’ participation in hostilities “which contributes to the general war effort of a party, but does not directly cause harm and, therefore, does not lead to a loss of protection against direct attack. (my emphasis). It is hard to shoe-horn into the DPH definition the activities of Anwar Al’Alawki, his 16 year-old son, people administering first-aid and attending funerals, or couples driving down the road on their honeymoon, all who obama has sentenced to death.

Thanks to a leak by a former obama administration official, we now have confirmation of how targets are selected for murder by drone. A name is selected off a “hit list” by an administration official, and permission (sic) is given by one of ten attorneys to have the person killed. This clearly violates Geneva IV, Art. 3 prohibition of “the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

The obama drone doctrine is hopelessly muddled. It conflates one nation’s right to defend against an imminent attack by the armed forces of another nation, with the right of a law enforcement officer to use deadly force against an individual criminal suspect who poses an imminent danger.  It attempts to justify killing al-Qaeda members by pretending they are military commanders, or soldiers engaged in combat, then admits they are criminal suspects by insisting “[i]t is our preference to capture suspected terrorists whenever feasible” in order to “prosecute them in our federal courts.”

Boiled down, the obama drone doctrine states: ‘If a terrorist suspect is in a “hard-to-reach place” and thus a pain to capture and bring to trial, we reserve the right to call him a ‘soldier’ & assassinate him with a missile.’

_

5. It’s Ethical?

Brennan claims that obama’s drone killing conform to the ethical principles of “the law of war that govern the use of force”:

  • Necessity — “the requirement that the target have a definite military value”
  • Distinction — “the idea that only military objectives may be intentionally targeted and that civilians are protected from being intentionally targeted”
  • Proportionality—“the notion that the anticipated collateral damage of an action cannot be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage”
  • Humanity — “which requires us to use weapons that will not inflict unnecessary suffering.”

Accept, for the sake of argument, the Bush/obama fiction that we are at war with a sovereign entity, and one is still hard-pressed to match drone killings to Brennan’s lofty list of ideals:

  • Necessity — How the center of an entire village is a target of definite military value;
  • Distinction — how firing missiles at funerals, first-aid responders, or children gathering firewood protects civilians from being intentionally targeted;
  • Proportionality — how killing six civilians for every one suspected terrorist is not “excessive”;
  • Humanity — how a “signature attack” on a single suspect using two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, each of which carries a 20 lb. thermobaric warhead “that can suck the air out of a cave, collapse a building, or produce an astoundingly large blast radius out in the open”, or the 500 lb. GBU-12 fragmentation bomb, does not inflict unnecessary suffering.

Indeed, under international law, obama’s use of drones meets every definition of a war crime.

_

American Tyrant

barack obama has expanded the imperialism of the presidency to a level unprecedented even under Nixon and Bush. He has brazenly and repeatedly usurped war powers from a sheepish Congress while bullying the Judiciary.  One by one, he has stripped away the Constitutional civil liberties of the citizenry.

With a chilling aptness for orwellian double-speak, obama declares

secrecy = transparency

indiscriminate killings = effective & ethical

 disregard for international law = respect for that law

 war = peace

Like Orwell’s Big Brother, obama casts himself as the all-wise, benevolent yet also vindictive supreme leader. He smugly lectures us lowly prols, chides us for sloth, sneers when we doubt his infallibility. With FISA and the Patriot Act, obama also has BB’s universal powers of surveillance.

In short, barack obama personifies what our Founding Fathers feared most: an omnipotent tyrant. “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy”, warned Madison. Under Bushama, we have spend eleven years, hundreds of billions of dollars, and caused tens of thousands of deaths, to defeat a chimerical terrorist group that’s struck the US (counting the 1993 WTC garage bomb and the 2000 USS Cole bombing) a grand total of three times in two decades. Were our efforts commensurate to the threat? Or was this just the ruse of all tyrants through the ages — to oppress the people at home with endless wars abroad. Madison again:

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended … and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people…. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

We’re told we’re waging war against a foe who by definition cannot wage war, on a battlefield that encompasses every point on the globe, where any civilian in any nation can be labeled a combatant and murdered. Under cover of continual, infinite, boundless warfare, obama has already negated much of our Constitutional liberties.  With the “flexibility” of a second term, is there any doubt that obama will complete the conversion of our Republic into a tyrannical police state?

Freedom-loving Americans have one last chance to avert tyranny by defeating obama this November.  Failing that, our options will be few:

The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood.  It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men. — Sam Adams

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus. All rights reserved.


Top 10 Campaign Slogans for Obama/Biden 2012

April 20, 2012

With OFA struggling to come up with a catchy slogan to replace 2008’s “Change We Can Believe In“, True Liberal Nexus decided to brainstorm on the difficult task of  conveying, in a few words, all the many, powerful reasons to re-elect barack obama.  David Axelrod, feel free to use any of the following:

10. Democrats: We Suck Less

9. Take A Look At Those Rich People!

8. Did I Mention I Killed Osama Bin Laden?

7. Romney Hates Women; I Just Pay Them Less

6. WTF

6. WTS (“What Toure Said”)

5. We’re The Ones We’re Still Waiting For

4. Believe Me — I Can Change

3. Happy Days Will Be Here Again, Once Republicans in Congress Start Cooperating

2. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!

2. Jobs!

1. Never Mind the Bollox; He’s Still Black


(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


Obama v. Marshall

April 6, 2012

According to barack obama, John Marshall, the greatest Chief Justice of all time, was a reckless, activist judge.

Professor obama Gives a Lecture

In a response to press corps questions about last month’s obamacare hearings, our erudite professor/president lashed out at the Supreme Court, in what many saw as a blatent attempt to influence its ruling, in the process embarrasing himself by making several patently false statements about our Constitution and the Judiciary Branch.

Sensing — or perhaps tipped off — that last Friday’s initial vote had gone against his eponymous health care law, obama whined that the High Court was on the verge of taking “what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” The boy genius went on to refer to our nation’s highest court as “an unelected group of people [who] would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

Ignoring for the moment obama’s standard demogoguery (and, admittedly, calling a slim 7-vote victory as “a strong majority” is better than the Nancy Pelosi’s earlier description of a strict party-line vote as “bipartisan“), it’s important to emphasize the temerity of the president’s comments.  obama insinuated that the Judiciary never does, nor should it ever, overturn laws passed by the Legislative branch.

Activist Judges — Proglodyte Version

That’s a false meme which crops up among right-wingers and proglodytes alike whenever rulings don’t go their way.  As one dolt at The Atlantic wrote following the first ruling against obamacare, “contrary to what many Americans believe, our Constitution actually doesn’t provide for judicial review. The power of courts to invalidate state laws is perhaps implied in the text….”  I guess that’s true, if you count ‘something some Alexander Hamilton dude wrote in this obscure & irrelevant book, The Federalist Papers’, as “implied.”

The “general liberty of the people”, Hamilton argues in Federalist #78, “can be preserved in practice no other way than through” independent courts “whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.”

Hamilton rejects the claim “that the legislative body are themselves the constitutional judges of their own powers” as unsupported by “any particular provisions in the Constitution.”  To suppose “that the Constitution could intend to enable the representatives of the people to substitute their will to that of their constituents” makes no sense to Hamilton.

It is far more rational to suppose, that the courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature, in order … to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority. The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts.

obama and the jacobins also choose to ingore another important document.  Art. III, Sec. 1  of the U.S. Constitution, establishes “The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordaind and establish” (94 of them at present, including the several that ruled on obamacare).

Art. III. Sec. 2’s provision that “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution,the Laws of the United States … under their authority”, including “controversies to which the United States shall be a Party….”

Faced with the prospect of a ruling he won’t like, our constitutional law professor-in-Chief simply wished away that part of the Constistution that actually provides for judicial review (albeit, not in so many words.)  And this is where the ghost of John Marshall needs to get medieval on obama’s scrawny ass.

Judicial Review — 209 Years Young

If you, non-Harvard-matriculated, non-constitutional-law-lecturing plebeians need to know of one Supreme Court case, it should be Marbury v. Madison (1803), when the Court first struck down a federal law, establishing forever more the principle of Judicial Review.

The great, acclaimed first Chief Justice, John Marshall, whose opinions are considered touchstones by all (legitimate) legal scholars, declared in Marbury v. Madison that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department, to say what the law is.”  Following the ruling, this principle became known as Judicial Review.  It’s pedantic semantics to argue that Judicial Review was only implied, simply because the 1803-vintage coinage didn’t appear in the 1788 text.

Since 1803, the Supreme court has used its power of judicial review to repeal  nearly a thousand state statutes, including (progs take note) Roe v. Wade. Another 160 acts of Congress, including 6 New Deal laws that overstepped the limits of the Commerce Clause, plus over 50 in the just the past three decades, have been struck down.  That’s about five a year — hardly “unprecedented.”

Homework Assignment … for the Professor

Alarmed by obama’s apparent direct challenge to Judicial Review, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ordered Eric Holder to respond in writing whether “the Department of Justice recognize[s] that federal courts have the authority in appropriate circumstances to strike federal statutes because of one or more constitutional infirmities.”

Holder complied by confirming that “the power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute” while insisting his bosses comments were “fully consistent” with that principle.

Following what must have been a crash refresher course on constitutional law, obama back-tracked on his comments:

The point I was making is that the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it, but it’s precisely because of that extraordinary power that the Court has traditionally exercised significant restraint and deference to our duly elected legislature, our Congress. And so the burden is on those who would overturn a law like this….

They should have left it at that.  But White House spokesman Jay Carney  blurted out  that the president was specifically referring to “the precedent under the Commerce Clause” regarding a legislature’s ability to address “challenges to our national economy.”  Then the Harvard Law grad put his foot right back into his mouth:

We have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on an economic issue, like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce, a law like that has not been overturned at least since Lochner.  So we’re going back to the ’30s, pre-New Deal.

For the record, Lochner v. New York (1905)  predated the New Deal by three decades, is today considered largely irrelevant, and dealt with the Due Process Clause, not the Commerce Clause.

Real-life legal experts were quick to remind obama of U.S. v. Lopez (1995) and U.S. v. Morrison (2000), two quite recent Supreme Court cases where Congress was indeed found to have overstepped its Commerce Clause powers.  Both ruled that, even though a private act (packing a gun to school; beating up women; resp.) might have some aggregate effect on commerce, if not in itself commercial activity, it cannot be subject to regulation.

Calculated Ploy, or Emotional Outburst?

obama’s fractured-fairy tale version of Constitutional law may have been the first shot fired in a ploy to use the obamacare ruling in the election. Or, as fellow true liberal and political commentator, John Smart, surmised, “he lost his temper because he didn’t get his way.  That’s how narcissistic personalities act.”

Quite likely, the primary motive was to save the mandate by shifting a swing vote — Kennedy’s, most would guess.  But consider another possibility — the result obama was trying to influence was not a 5-4 in favor, but to avoid a 6-3 against.  Although the comments & questions of four leftist judges during the hearings mostly indicated support for the law, one line of questioning by Justice Sotomayor raised speculation.  “So … you’re answering affirmatively to my colleagues that have asked you the question, can the government force you into commerce,” she asked Verilli, the government’s attorney.  When he conceded that point, Sotomayor followed up rhetorically, “And there is no limit to that power.”  The need to establish a clear, limiting principle to the scope of Congress’ regulatory power — in this case, why insurance but not broccoli — was the central question on all nine justice’s minds.  It was the lack of clear limits that led courts nearly identical in philosophical spectrum as this one to rule in Lopez and Morrison.
Pols like James Carville believe obama can campaign successfully on a 5-4 loss, presenting it as part of the GOP crusade against ‘our values.’  Tacitly acknowledging that Republicans will control both houses come 2013, obama can offer himself as a ‘last line of defense’. The standard argument, that we need a Democrat in the White House to nominate new justices, will of course be made.  The fresh defeat of a law passed by Democrats contains more potency than the stale, vague threat to Roe, which three decades of conservative majorities on the Court have yet to repeal.

All these propaganda tools are seriously compromised were one of the four presumed ‘solid’ votes for the mandate to flip, especially an obama appointee.  Then the story line goes: ‘This guy devoted the entire first year of his term to getting this law passed,and now it’s wiped off the books.  He wasn’t smart enough to realize it had constitutional issues, nor could he even pick the right judge to uphold it.’

If obama did indeed learn that Sotomayor will rule against, it’s no wonder he lost his cool.

Do I Get My Single Payer Now?

Many progs, in sudden shock & disillusionment that the entire ACA may be overturned — not to mention fearing taunts by coworkers over their “Healthcare: Reformed!” coffee mug — desperately seek a silver lining.  If obamacare must be defeated, they reason, maybe it’s the first step to passing real healthcare reform: a single-payer system that covers absolutely everyone.  The more severely mentally ill believe losing before the Supreme Court was all along part of obama’s secret, multi-dimensional plan to implement single-payer.

Not so fast, gang.  Even assuming you somehow re-elect barry with Dem majorities in both houses while, barry’s simply not interested in single-payer.  In his impromptu teach-in he insisted that “in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care.”   Yet, as Single Payer Action —  you, know, barry, those liberals who filed that amicus curiae brief arguing against your mandate — stated in said brief:

[T]he Government characterizes the provision as necessary to the effective regulation by Congress of the national healthcare market, but disregards the proven success of single payer systems currently operating in the United States…. Congress has already implemented successful single payer systems that provide universal coverage to certain subsets of the population, including Medicare … and the Veterans Health Administration….

No surprise that healthcare experts who supported a national single payer system were banned from testifying before Congress.

A Tough Sell

Whatever the vote, if obamacare is struck down in whole or part, it will make touting the president’s list of accomplishments a tough sell.  To rally ‘the base’, obama may well be forced to promise of single-payer in his second term.  The GOP can easily counter by spinning it: ‘We just got rid of the obamacare y’all hate; now he’s promising to do obamacare all over again!’

Even from people who’d hoped for any kind of healthcare reform, giving obama a mulligan may be too much to ask.  He was handed a ‘mandate’ and large majorities in Congress, and he screwed up.  Those ideal conditions will not be recreated.  When the ACA was first introduced in 2009, it was a major disappointment to those on the far Left.  Now, a failure of obama’s healthcare juggernaut  may bring those long-supressed resentments back to the surface.  Given the efficiency of obama’s propaganda machine, it’s easy to forget the stridency of the voices on the Left originally opposed to obamacare:

  • Democrats “lost the initiative the minute that our party jumped into bed with the insurance companies,” complained Dennis Kucinich.  “This bill represents a giveaway to the insurance industry”
  • “This is essentially the collapse of health care reform” lamented Howard Dean. “Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill [it.]”
  • “From what we know about the bill, it is worse than passing nothing, ” seethed Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, who found the bill “worse than passing nothing. If I wanted Joe Lieberman writing a health care bill, I would’ve voted for John McCain.”
  • Huffy Poo opined that the bill failed to pass “the first rule of medicine … ‘do no harm.'”

Even those obama slut-monkeys, MoveOn.org, protested outside the White House, issuing a press release complaining “[w]ithout a public option, it’s just a giveaway to the insurance companies, and it does nothing to control costs.”
While obama’s team eventually quelled dissent from the Left,  it has been unable to remedy overall discontent with obamacare.  The latest Gallup poll reported that only 20% of Americans, and just 37% of Democrats, thought the mandate was constitutional; that only 11% of swing state voters feel the law has helped their families; that 53/40, voters favored repeal of the law.  Of the 28 states that filed suits against the ACA, 12 went for obama in 2008.  And Scott Brown tells us all we need to know about how Massachusetts feel about obamacare.

This November, when trying to get out the vote, OFA may find itself fighting the resentment of otherwise dependable voters like this MoveOn member picketing outside the White House in 2009:

“To me, it’s the death of health care.  And that’s sad, because this was a real opportunity. I think people voted heavily Democratic because they wanted something done to solve the health care problem, and instead we’re just getting something that will benefit the insurance companies.”

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


Zimmerman, Martin, and the Trampling of the Constitution

March 28, 2012

The Mob Rushes to Judgement

Within hours of the news of the shooting death in Sanford, FL, the mob had already found George Zimmerman guilty of the “murder” of Trayvon Martin, then spent the next weeks cherry-picking facts to support their verdict.   A superfluous exercise, really, when a single headline had been sufficient for their ‘verdict’:  ‘unarmed black teenager wearing hoodie shot and killed by white man in gated community.’   To the reactionary minds of proglodytes, this was incontrovertible proof of a racially-motivated attack.  The photo of the angelic teen victim was plastered across the MSM, and the Outrage Brigade girded its loins for yet another crusade against  Governor George Wallace   The Sparta, Mississippi PD  the pervasive institutional racism in our society.

The crusade hit a speed bump when the first photo of Zimmerman showed a face possessing decidedly hispanic features (his mother is Peruvian).  For, while proglodytes are convinced that racism lurks in the soul of every Caucasian, they seem incapable of imagining a member of a minority ever hating another minority.  They quickly got over this shock and back to interpreting every nuance of the case as evidence of anti-black bias.

As further, less angelic details about Martin started to trickle in, the Outrage Brigade blocked these from their minds, instead labeling the  revelations  — Martin had been suspended for marijuana possession and/or trespassing, he may have been dealing, a stash of stolen jewelry had been found on his person, he may have punched a bus driver — as a racially-motivated “smear campaign.”

Acceding to the mob’s demands, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Zimmerman’s actions as a hate crime.  Regardless of what will eventually be revealed about the events, the DOJ investigation should cause great alarm to all freedom-loving Americans.  To understand why it is so dangerous, we need to first review some of the legal aspects of this story.


A Legal Analysis of the Incident

(Note:  hereafter, I shall refer to Zimmerman as “Z”, and Martin as “M”.  Not for convenience, rather to emulate the standard presentation of case law examples, where the particular characteristics of the participants are irrelevant.)

As far as we know, neither Z nor M did anything illegal up until the moment they encountered each other.  Foolish, or unwise, perhaps, but not illegal.  Z had a right to drive and walk around his neighborhood, and to challenge a stranger.  M had the same right to walk, or even run, around that neighborhood, and to tell a stranger to piss off.

There are also several as-yet undetermined things that may have occurred prior to the confrontation, which we can only speculate on.  In listing them, I make no assertion of their respective validity.

Z may have:

  • been earnestly trying to stop a perceived criminal;
  • been stalking M solely because of his color;
  • recklessly precipitated a physical confrontation;
  • uttered a racial epithet.

M may have:

  • been wandering lost on his first night in the neighborhood;
  • been casing houses for burglaries;
  • been stoned;
  • been scared for his safety;
  • decided to physically confront Z, instead of fleeing or calling for help.

While a few of these possible actions would be, in & of themselves, minor crimes or inchoate offenses, none can be considered the legal cause of M’s death.

Causation & State of Mind

When assessing culpability for a tort or a crime, the law looks for two things, causation, and state of mind (“mens rea”, or criminal intent).

The causation question is commonly phrased thus:  ‘BUT FOR A’s act, would B have suffered the harm?’   The causal link may not be extended infinitely.  But for his suspension, M would not have been in that neighborhood that night.  Yet that does not mean M’s school principle caused M’s death.  The focus is normally placed on the most proximate cause.

The proximate cause of M’s death was the firing of the gun by Z.  This does not necessarily mean, however, that Z is guilty of murder, or any crime.  The circumstances surrounding the action, the events leading up to it, and Z’s state of mind, all are factors.

Criminal codes vary from state-to-state, but most adopt a standard hierarchy, ranging from premeditated murder, through reckless-, then negligent manslaughter, on down to lesser crimes.  The incident does not fit the definition of murder, but could conceivably be deemed manslaughter, were Z found to have acted with reckless disregard of the potential consequences.  Z’s state of mind at the time, as compared to what the average person could reasonably be thinking in that situation, would then be a factor.

Z’s act could also be deemed justifiable homicide, which is not a crime.  You have the right to use deadly force, if you reasonably fear you will be killed or suffer serious bodily harm.  If it is true that, as Z was dialing his cell phone, M violently assaulted Z, knocking him to the ground with a punch to the nose, then straddling him to repeatedly slam his head against the concrete, Z’s fear for his physical safety or life would be eminently reasonable.

All this is for the The State of Florida to decide.  If the District Attorney chooses to make a charge, a grand jury must then be convened to indict. If an indictment is issued, a court would then hear the case, and a jury reach a verdict. If a guilty verdict is returned, finally a judge would levy a sentence.  That’s known as due process under the law.


Reserved Powers

The mob is impatient of that process, though, and has persuaded the DOJ to proceed with a prosecution of Z for hate crime under the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (“HCPA“).  That poses dangerous threats to our Constitution, our form of government, and to all our civil liberties.

First, the Constitution reserves for the states what are known as police powers.  These are not just cops issuing speeding tickets, rather all form of regulation in the interests of the health, safety and welfare of the state’s citizens.  The federal government is only supposed to assume police power within the narrow confines of its enumerated powers.  When the HCPA was passed in 2009, some observers noted with concern that it “greatly expands the federal government’s jurisdiction to prosecute cases that properly belong in a state court.”

Laws that expand federal police power always require a “hook” for justification, usually the Commerce Clause.  For the Shepard Act, the 13th Amendment’s banning of slavery was also pressed into service as a “hook” via a painfully convoluted argument:

“For generations, the institutions of slavery and … involuntary servitude were enforced … through widespread public and private violence directed at persons because of their race, color, or ancestry, or perceived race, color, or ancestry. Accordingly, eliminating racially motivated violence is an important means of eliminating … the … relics of slavery ….”

Second, many argue the HCPA violates the 5th Amendment by subjecting citizens to Double Jeopardy, facing multiple trial & punishment for the same offense.  Under the HCPA, the federal government may prosecute “[w]hoever … willfully causes … or … attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person” simply if the U.S. Attorney General determines that either:

the verdict or sentence obtained pursuant to State charges left demonstratively unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence; or a prosecution by the United States is in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice.

In plain English, if Eric Holder feels Florida’s ultimate punishment of Z is not sufficiently harsh for his taste, he can try Z again in federal court.   Many activists feel this is justifiable, to make up for the “long history in this country, where African-Americans are victims, and state authorities failed to act in a timely and appropriate manner ….”

Additionally, the HCPA seems to punish hatred/bias in isolation.  A main defense of bias crime statutes is that they punish the hate only after it has been manifested in a criminal act.  Z has yet to even be charged with a crime, yet the DOJ is ramping up to prosecute him.  DOJ’s case against Z rests on two elements, and two alone:

  1. M’s skin color was different than Z’s skin color;
  2. Z allegedly uttered a word.

Even if Z did say “coon”  — even if saying “coon” is indicative of his hatred of blacks —  does that merit a life sentence?  The HCPA says it does.  Were Z to be acquitted of all charges in Florida, many believe he still deserves to spend the rest of his days in a federal penitentiary.

Finally, although the Shepard Act contains language assuring that “[n]othing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech”,  its sanctioning of extremely harsh penalties, based entirely on what a person says, nevertheless creates a Chilling Effect on free speech.

Z, along with every citizen, has a 1st Amendment right to say “coon” or anything they like, however “distasteful and repugnant”.  We also have a right to hate certain groups and to express that sentiment in public (cf. Snyder v. Phelps)  But if certain words are enough to send anyone to prison, no one can ever feel safe saying those words.  Like all hate crime laws, one unavoidable side effect of the HCPA is a gross infringement of our 1st Amendment rights.


The Constitution Trampled Underfoot

The furor over the incident in Sanford, FL is but the latest example of a clash between increasingly polarized philosophical camps.  In their angry scrum to define the narratives that influence both public opinion and public policy, the combatants are trampling our Constitution, and our civil liberties contained therein. The polemics need to end, and the rule of law restored.

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


Infidel, Go Home!

February 29, 2012

By now, everyone is familiar with how it was discovered that US military personnel at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan had been sending copies of the koran to the incinerator.  Afghanis continue to riot in protest; four US soldiers have been killed, and eight wounded, to date in retaliation.  In response to the rioting, obama issued a lengthy, written apology addressed to Hamid Karzai, mayor of Kabul president of Afghanistan.  Karzai nevertheless insists that those responsible for the burnt korans be handed over to stand trial.

Around the world, moslems are protesting in solidarity.  In America, the Right attacks obama for apologizing, while the Left defends him.  In Afghanistan, tempers continue to flare. A young Afghani who worked at Bagram Air base said of his American employers:  “The people who do this are our enemies.  How could I ever work for them again?”

The general consensus in Afghanistan is that us Americans should go home, leaving them in peace to practice their medieval religion.  We should take a hint and start packing our bags.


Apology Not Accepted

Immediately following the revelation of the koran burnings, obama sent a three-page, written apology to Karzai.  In it, he offered his “sincere apologies” and expressed “deep regret” for the torching of the sacred Muslim texts.  “The error was inadvertent,” obama insisted , “I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”

Similar prostrations were offered by the US military, NATO, and the State Department:

“We apologize to the Afghan people and disapprove of such conduct in the strongest possible terms. This deeply unfortunate incident does not reflect the great respect our military has for the Afghan people. It’s regrettable.”

“The desecration of religious articles is not in keeping with the standards of American tolerance, human rights practices and freedom of religion.”

The claim that the burnings were accidental seems genuine — to a point.   The korans had been removed  from a library the base ran for prisoners.  It seems the prisoners had scribbled marginalia next to sura, or passages, that justify the use of armed resistance against NATO forces.   (These must have been heavily annotated copies, as the koran contains over a hundred sura promoting violence against infidels.)

So, although knew they were burning korans, our soldiers may well have been unaware that burning korans was such an affront to moslems.  They certainly weren’t burning the korans as an intentional affront to moslems.  They were just following orders:

6.1.2  Utilization of the Bagram incinerator or a properly authorized burn barrel is mandatory for burning classified/sensitive information that cannot be properly disposed of in a shredder authorized to destroy classified information.  All other documents should be shredded before they are discarded.

(It’s doubtful that moslems would be any less irate had the korans been shredded.)

In fact, waste disposal at our many far-flung bases has become a problem that the military has tried to address over the past two years, primarily by building incinerators.  Coincidentally, Bagram was the subject of a 2009 Air Force study on improving waste handling.

NATO has agreed to investigate the burnings, and the US military will be conducting sensitivity training sessions for all personnel in Afghanistan.


When In Bagram…

None of this will appease moslems, however, who believe that any desecration of their magical book is an inexcusable affront to Allah, punishable by death.  Karzai continues to insist that those responsible be handed over to the Afghani government to stand trial.  Under Afghani law — which is essentially sharia — the punishment is death by hanging.

No US president would ever comply to such a request, certainly not one seeking re-election.  Nevertheless, under international law, we may be obligated to do just that.  It all depends on where the burnings took place.

The grounds of an overseas military base, like a consulate or embassy, are considered sovereign soil of the nation operating it.  Within these tiny enclaves, the laws of the operating nation, not those of the host, are in force.  Once they step off-base, however, or out the embassy door, our military and diplomatic personnel are subject to the laws of the host country.  So-called “diplomatic immunity” means embassy staff who violate local laws are simply shipped home.  Soldiers get handed over to the local authorities.  One news outlet described the location of the burnings as “an incinerator near the Bagram Air Base.”   True Liberal Nexus, however, has located documents (link and link) that indicate that the burn piles or incinerator used to burn the korans would have been situated within the base perimeter.  The nuances of international law, though, are unlikely to sooth the rage of the moslems.


Burn, Baby, Burn

It may surprise you to learn that this is not the first time religious texts were burned at Bagram Air Base.  In 2009, thousands of holy books were sent to the incinerator.  Christian bibles.

The Air Force had received an unsolicited shipment of bibles, translated into local languages, from a Christian group.  They’d first been put in the base library, but were recalled to avoid any appearance that part of our mission in Afghanistan was to convert.   At first, the Air Force was going to mark the bibles “Return to Sender.”  Then it reconsidered, fearing that, were the bibles to be later redistributed, it might be misconstrued by Afghanis that the US military was the source.  So they were burned.   No one protested; no one complained; no one was killed.

In 2011, religious freak Terry Jones held a koran burning, condemning a single copy of the words of the prophet/misogynist/rapist/pederast, Mohammed, to the flames.  Worldwide, moslems rioted for two days. In afghanistan, a mob attacked a UN office, killing 24 inside.  In the West, Jones was widely blamed for causing the violence, implying that the moslems who actually did the rioting and committed the murders are either 1) mindless beasts incapable of checking their emotions;  2) justified in their actions.

“It was intolerant and it was extremely disrespectful and again, we condemn it in the strongest manner possible.” — Gen. David Petraeus

“I wish we could find some way to hold people accountable. During WWII, you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy. Free speech is a great idea, but we are in a war. Any time in America we can push back against actions like this that put our troops at risk, we ought to do that.”  – Sen. Lindsay Graham

“I am disgusted and saddened at the outcome of Mr. Jones’ narrow vision of the world. While we respect freedom of speech, this is tantamount to crying fire in a crowded theater.”  — Rep. Maxine Waters

“Mr. Jones did this, even though he was warned of the consequences..  It is illegal to falsely yell fire in a crowded theater because doing so presents a clear and present danger, and it should be illegal to set fire to the Koran for the same reason. Authorities should immediately begin considering the prosecution of Mr. Jones for inciting a riot.”  — Letter to the editor of the Washington Post

“If the stakes were not so high, if his threatened action did not portend international riots, increase the danger to American troops, and jeopardize the nation’s global standing, the whole thing would be downright laughable”  — Seattle Times

The planned burning of Korans this weekend would not just be a national disgrace or dangerous for our troops abroad. It could set fire to the very fabric that makes America strong and righteous.” —  Christian Science Monitor

Like Jones’ pyromania, all this threw much heat but little light. One of the few voices defending our tradition of Free Speech was Glenn Greenwald:

“The whole point of the First Amendment is that one is free to express the most marginalized, repellent, provocative and offensive ideas. Those are the views that are always targeted for suppression…. If you’re someone who wants to vest the state with the power to punish the expression of certain views on the grounds that the view is so wrong and/or hurtful that its expression should not be permitted … then you’re someone who does not believe in free speech, by definition; what you believe is that one is free to express only those viewpoints which the majority of citizens (and the State) allow to be expressed.”

What Greenwald understands, contra the State Department, is that the desecration of religious articles is in keeping with the standards of American tolerance, human rights practices and freedom of religion.


Apologizing for the Apology

Yet, for the proglydites of the Left, this double standard is perfectly acceptable.  If a pack of intolerant, illiterate goat-herders think a collection of pulp, ink, glue, and cardboard can be desecrated, then who are we to question that?

Mika Brzezinski, perhaps the dimmest of all the dimwits at Pravda MSNBC, vociferously defended obama’s mewling apology:  “What am I missing?  Let’s say the American flag was inadvertently burned, would that not require an apology from another leader?”

Um, they do burn the American flag all the time, Mika, and on purpose.  I guess you missed how they just did it again in Yemen.  Go ahead, Mika, demand an apology.  Now, people also burn the American flag (or step on it in an alleyway) in America.  The difference is, while some Americans do get all touchy about flag etiquette, burning a flag in America won’t get you executed.

Mika, perhaps you also missed how they burned your obama-messiah in effigy the other day.  Aren’t you offended, Mika?  Or is that sort of thing “understandable” when it’s done by foreigners?

Why, of course it is!  Mika, and the rest of the proglydites at MSNBC set an higher bar for Western civilization than the rest of the world.  Just last April, the Hardball gang twisted themselves into contortions to explain how burning a koran is far worse than burning a bible:

“The thing to keep in mind that`s very important here is that the Koran to Muslims … is not the same as the Bible to Christians…. [I]f you`re a Muslim, the Koran is directly the word of God, not written by man….  That makes it sacred in a way that it`s hard to understand if you`re not Muslim. So the act of burning a Koran is … much, much more inflammatory … than if you were to burn a Bible.”

The pathology that afflicts the Left, causing it to always belittle Western values while ever making excuses for the abominable behavior of other cultures, is a subject better left for another day.  But here’s the sort of apology a real president, who

  1. Treasured and respected our Constitution and our Western values;
  2. Had a pair;

might have issued:

Gosh, I am so terribly sorry this little peccadillo upset y’all so much!  It’s not like we went out of our way to upset you.  I’m sure our boys didn’t even realize that burning a little book was such a big deal to y’all.  See, in our country, we burn things all the time that are sacred to others — like posters of the Pope, rival versions of the bible, and Dixie Chicks CDs.  That’s because, in our country, we value free speech and the separation of church and state.  We came to your country ten years ago to rescue you from the oppressive clutches of the Taliban  — that and to build a pipeline.  But if you insist on remaining stuck in the Middle Ages, then we best be on our way.

In all seriousness, this was an opportunity for the American president to reaffirm the best of American values — not coca cola or consumerism, or drones, but rather freedom of speech, secularism, and tolerance.  Yes, tolerance, because unlike Western society, Islam (and I intentionally paint here with a broad brush; prove me wrong) is utterly intolerant of the beliefs of others.


What Mission?

We initially invaded Afghanistan to rout out the Taliban,  which allegedly had a hand in the 9/11 attacks.  We stayed to reform Afghan society, to bring it into a state of democratic grace, to eliminate corruption in its government, to kill the opium trade, to modernize its infrastructure.   Some say we are there to exploit the country’s natural resources, or to have a springboard for a future attack on Iran. According to General David Petraeus, the primary objective is to create an Afghanistan that is “never again a sanctuary to al-Qaida or other transnational extremists that it was prior to 9/11.”

In December, 2010, when his surge was in full swing, obama paid a surprise visit to the troops in Afghanistan, telling them:

“We said we were going to break the Taliban’s momentum, and that’s what you’re doing. You’re going on the offense, tired of playing defense. Today we can be proud that there are fewer areas under Taliban control and more Afghans have the chance to build a more hopeful future.  You will succeed in your mission.”

US policy, bent on preventing the return of the taliban at all costs, has coddled and propped up the perfidious Karzai, while placating the brutal local warlords.  The 2010 parliamentary elections saw a new generation of warlords “that has risen since 2001 and attained wealth and power through NATO security contracts and lucrative reconstruction deals,” gain office.

As a sop to a populace increasingly squeezed by Kabul and the warlords, half-hearted attempts were made to implement public works projects — which ended up rife with further graft.  Our statesmen are puzzled how this policy could fail in Afghanistan, when it was such a smashing success in Vietnam.

Whatever our motivations, noble or base, we have failed across the board.  The Taliban still controls much of the countryside, and we now are begging them to come to the table and accept a power-sharing agreement.  The heroin trade is like a weed — we hack at the head, but the roots remain, ready to spring up anew.  A decade after we installed him in power, Karzai’s regime is ranked as one of the top three most corrupt governments in the world.  The country is as impoverished and undeveloped as when we arrived.

As implemented by Bush and now by obama, our agenda in Afghanistan is the spawn of the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which, among other things, assumes that forcibly grafting democracy onto a country leads to economic prosperity and an open society.  The fatal flaw of the Wolfowitz doctrine is that it got the causal relationship backwards:  only prosperous, open societies have the wherewithal to sustain a democracy.   In destitute, reactionary Afghanistan, democracy is a farce.

Malalai Joya, one of the few woman elected to the Jirga (parliament), has spoken out against both US policy and the corrupt Karzai regime.  Joya laments that “there are no human rights or democracy in Afghanistan because [the government] is infected with fundamentalism.”

As reward for her efforts to battle corruption and defend women’s rights, Jaya has been kicked out of the Jirga and threatened with rape.  “In our country, to express your point of view is to risk violence and death.”


Welcome to Beautiful Koranistan!

Not sure what we expected, because the Afghan constitution, written in 2004 with our blessing, establishes the country as an islamic republic.  While it includes lip service to equal rights for woman, free speech, and freedom of religion, the Afghan constitution also clearly states that “In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.”  In practice, the law of the land is sharia:  the 1976 penal code is still in effect, and the constitution gives jurisprudence to Hanafi law (a sharia variant) on matters religious.

Some human rights highlights since the Constitution was ratified:

  • 2005 — Journalist Ali Mohaqiq Nasab receives a two year blasphemy sentence for questioning harsh punishments imposed on women and the punishment of apostasy;
  • 2006 — Abdul Rahman is arrested for converting to christianity — “an attack on Islam”,  punishable by death– but is later released following international pressure;
  • 2007 — The Afghan Supreme Court rules that membership in the Bahai Faith is blasphemy and that Muslims who convert to the Bahai Faith are apostates;
  • 2008 — Following a four-minute trial, journalism student Parwiz Kambakhsh is convicted of blasphemy for allowing an article critical of Islam’s treatment of women to be published in the school paper.  His death sentence is later commuted to 20 years imprisonment;
  • 2009 —  Ghows Zalmai is sentenced to twenty years in prison for publishing an unauthorized translation of the koran;
  • 2009 — Karzai signs The Shiite Personal Status Law, which allows police to enforce a woman’s role as “obedience, readiness for intercourse, and not leaving the house without the permission of the husband,” and affirms that a shiite wife is “bound to preen for her husband, as and when he desires.”  Under the law, a husband may deny his wife food and shelter if she does not meet his sexual needs, including anal intercourse;
  • 2010 — Red Cross worker Said Musa is convicted of conversion to christianity and sentenced to death.  After suffering torture in prison, Musa is released following intervention by NGOs;
  • 2011 — Shoaib Assadullah is arrested for converting to christianity, but later released due to international pressure;
  • 2011 —  After reporting her rape by her husband’s cousin, a 19 year-old woman is sentenced to 12 years in prison for adultery;
  • 2011 —  A case involving an 8 year-old bride, (which technically violated the country’s legal marriage age of 16) is turned over by the government to local tribal leaders for adjudication.  The elders rule that, as the groom had violated the marriage agreement by already having sex with the girl, he must pay a larger dowry.  A human rights report notes that 57% of brides in Afghanistan are under the age of 16.

What do our Western leaders have to say to all this?

“We are not in Afghanistan … to see to it that we make everything right in Afghanistan.  We’re there to defeat al Qaeda.”  — Vice President Joe Biden

“We believe that if we help them secure themselves, by training the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police, then we enable that government structure to become much more experienced than it has been.  It’s a young structure and they’re still going through some growing pains.” — Captain Elizabeth Mathia, spokesperson for IFOR

“There is no point in imposing some external model that bears no relation to Afghan realities or traditions.” — Dominic Grieve, UK Attorney General


Infidel, Go Home!

We must face the fact that the people of Afghanistan are stuck in the 9th century, and they like it there.  They have no intention of abandoning the oppression of islamic law, and Western leaders turn a blind eye to all but the most notorious cases.

The Afghanis find our continued presence in their country incompatible with their religion and their culture.  They don’t want our promises of roads and schools and prosperity.  They just want us to leave.

We live in a world where the inadvertent burning of someone’s holy book may be inconsiderate, but can be smoothed over with an apology.  They live (not unlike certain christians in this country) in a pre-modern, shamanistic world, where inanimate objects like books — almost 3/4 of the population are illiterate — are imbued with spirits that can be offended and “defiled”, and where such defilement can only be atoned with blood.

These strict adherents of islam (like the strict jews they cribbed their religion off of) are obsessed with cleanliness, following edicts written long before the discovery of bacteria.  Hence is Allah, the god they fabricated, so enraged over unclean foods, unclean practices, unclean persons.

So we teach our troops not to touch the locals with their left (ass-wiping) hand. Still, our very presence, coming and going as we please, sullies their land and their daily lives.   The frequent contact with our infidel soldiers, especially the female ones, frustrates the good moslem in his obligation to pray several times a day:

“Muslims, draw not near unto prayer….  [If] ye have touched women…then go to high clean soil and rub your face and your hands.”  — sura 4:43

“…if ye have had contact with women, and ye find not water, then go to clean, high ground and rub your faces and your hands with some of it.” sura 5:6

“When one of you prays without a sutrah, a dog, an ass, a pig, a Jew, a Magian, and a woman cut off his prayer, but it will suffice if they pass in front of him at a distance of over a stone’s throw.” Abu Dawud 2:704

To comport with Mohammed’s description of women as domestic animals, we order our female soldiers to wear scarves on their heads.   Yet our very use of women– who islam considers inherently unclean, especially when menstruating — as soldiers is confrontational.  Since the US military does not take female personnel off active duty once a month, a good moslem man stands a high risk of being contaminated when encountering our troops:

“… women’s courses … are a hurt and a pollution: So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean.” Sura 2:222

Our practice of placing women officers in command of male soldiers must seem barbaric to them:

“Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other…. Good women are obedient…. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them … and beat them.” sura 4:34

Any surprise, then, when a member of the Afghan parliament, in response to the koran burnings, announces at a rally that  “Americans are invaders, and jihad against Americans is an obligation”?  Or that a local worker feels the Americans “should leave Afghanistan rather than disrespecting our religion, our faith.  They have to leave and if next time they disrespect our religion, we will defend our holy Koran, religion and faith until the last drop of blood has left in our body.”


Religious War, Culture War

The Right in America are happy to treat this as a religious war.  Both Rick Santorum (in earnest) and Newt Gingrich (as demagoguery) have slammed obama’s apology.  The idea of asking Santorum or Gingrich whether the burning of a bible would merit a similar apology has yet to creep into the empty skull of any journalist.

If America is not a “Christian nation”, it is nonetheless a nation of Christians, and most Americans seem to share Santorum’s, et al. — and the Afghanis’ — view of this as a struggle between Christianity and Islam.  The soldier who shot a bullet through a koran a while back didn’t do so because he despised religious tracts in general; he did it because islam was heretical to his particular brand of faith.

The proglydites insist that in this case, we must chose between religious zealotry and touchy-feely, United-Colors-of-Benetton relativism, where every world culture, no matter how odious, must be “respected”, “valued” and “understood.”

That is a false dichotomy, and the Left are as wrong as the Right.  The koran burning, and the reactions to it, highlight a very real culture war, a clash of values.   And our modern, western culture, as exampled by the rights enshrined in the US Constitution, is better in absolute terms than the backwards, islamic culture of Afghanistan, as exemplified by their sharia.  The framers of our highest law were well-read children of the Enlightenment; theirs are superstitious relics of the Dark Ages.

Time to Pack Up and Go

It’s over. Our stated mission has failed, and conditions in Afghanistan have gotten steadily worse over time, not better.  The ways in which we want to improve society in Afghanistan are not ways in which Afghan society wants to improve.  obama’s standard foreign policy approach is to hope a problem just goes away, and he’ll let this problem fester.  Rioting will continue.  The call to bring the “burners” to justice will intensify.  More US personnel will be ambushed and killed. Tensions will rise. The risk that a beleaguered group of our soldiers shoot Afghanis — our Boston Massacre — will increase with each passing day.  The sooner we leave, the better.

A president with intelligence and integrity would realize that the game in Afghanistan is lost; that maligning our cherished Western values is a line that should never be crossed, no matter what’s at stake.  We don’t have that kind of president.

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.


Official Holy Book Burn Days

February 24, 2012

This advisory clarifies confusion over which day is the most offensive to burn a particular holy book.  (Disputes over competing sabbaths were decided by a coin flip, using a ceremonial coin with the face of Mohammed designating Heads, and a graphic depiction of the Virgin Mary being inseminated during the Annunciation designating Tails.)  For maximum outrage of religious fanatics and other mentally ill persons, please torch an holy book only on its designated Burn Day.

 Burn Day Schedule

Friday:  anon. ghost writer — The Koran, 3 Volumes (Vol. I: Mohammed and His Flying Horse; Vol. 2:  Mohammed Seduces Other Men’s Wives;  Vol. 3: How To Decapitate Infidels and Assorted Pork-Eaters)

Saturday:  Leviticus, et al., — Tanakh/Torah, Talmud, any Kabbalah, & asst. Midrashim (subtitled: Why The Thunder God Told Us To Commit Genocide And Avoid Shellfish)

Sunday:  Eusebius, ed. — New Testament (subtitled: A Compilation Of Preposterous 3rd Century Fables About Some Guy Not Found in The Historical Record). Note:  Please properly dispose of rosary beads, crucifixes and assorted statues by depositing them in the Idolatry bin at your local transfer station.

Monday:  Smith, J. — Book of Mormon (subtitled:  Being An Thrilling Account of Jesus’ Sold Out North American Tour, And The Phoenicians Who Used To Live There And Build Pyramids and Other Cool Stuff, As Revealed On Magic Gold Plates That Up And Disappeared One Day; Also Including Interesting True Vignettes Of The Prophets Who Live Inside My Closet)

Tuesday:  Baker Eddy, M. — Science And Health (subtitled:  Or, How I Conquered Psycho-Somatic Illness Through Fantasy).  Tuesday is also the designated day to burn Battlefield Earth, plus all copies of Watchtower and Awake! that create a fire hazard by accumulating behind your screen door.

Wednesday:  anon. — The Atharva-, Rig-, Sama-, & Yajur Veda series.  (transl: The More Gods, the Merrier!;  The More Arms, The Merrier The Gods!;  101 Useful Spells, Incantations, and Curses;  Reincarnation For Dummies).  Note: please do not attempt to burn stones that are shaped like phalluses.

Thursday:  Thursday is a Day of Rest, to collect kindling.

Important:  To reduce smoke nuisance to your neighbors, please burn only one pile of holy books at a time. And never leave piles unattended, or mix books of different, stupid beliefs into one pile.  But no need to ever apologize.

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.